Organization of Research
5.2 Research Council
5.6.2 Review of Proposals
Research is one of the basic missions of the university and is a cornerstone for the teaching and communication of ideas and concepts that may help to promote a culturally and technologically informed society. The university expects faculty members to conduct research and/or pursue creative activities as part of their academic obligations. Peer-reviewed research and creative achievements play an essential role for faculty in questions of promotion, tenure, and salary review.
The senior administration of the university, including deans, directors of research units, and department chairs, is responsible for exercising strong research leadership by encouraging, assisting, recognizing, and rewarding high-quality research. The senior vice president for research and associate provost is specifically charged with providing leadership and support of research activities throughout the university. Several organized research units also foster the development of working relationships with local, state, and federal governments, as well as with business and industry. The content and conduct of research is primarily the responsibility of the faculty and research staff. Research and creative activities may be conducted by a faculty member either alone or with other faculty and research staff in a research team in a department, college or research unit. In all cases, the guidance of students in these projects is considered an important part of faculty research involvement.
The Research Council provides a forum for the interchange of information on research activities of broad interest, coordinates long-term collaborative research venture developments, reviews recommendations for the creation, continuation and dissolution of research units, and periodically reviews the research institute, research administration, and other research-support operations. The Research Council consists of the directors of research units as designated by the senior vice president for research and associate provost, the director of the research institute, the deans of schools and colleges, and two faculty representatives chosen from a list of four recommended by the Faculty Senate. The Research Council is chaired by the senior vice president for research and associate provost, who provides a written annual report on the research performance of all units of the university.
The administration of university research contracts and grants is carried out under the direction of the senior vice president for research and associate provost and under the management of the associate vice president for research. Several institutes, centers, consortia, and laboratories report to the senior vice president for research and associate provost. An organization chart follows.
The Research Administration Office (Contracts and Grants) provides both pre-award and post-award services in support of sponsored research programs. Pre-award assistance includes identification of potential sponsors and the preparation of non-technical portions (budget preparation and the business/management aspects) of proposals. The research administration staff assists principal investigators in complying with the policies and procedures of the university and the external sponsor. It is the responsibility of this office to review all proposals for external support, as well as to negotiate changes in existing programs. The scientific content of proposals for contracts and grants are the prerogative and responsibility of the faculty and research staff.
After a contract or grant is awarded, the research administration staff provides post-award contract administration services, in accordance with sponsor policies and procedures, and assists the principal investigator in resolving administrative problems related to the project. The Research Administration Office works closely with the accounting staff in the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Administration to insure that contract and grant work is accomplished in accordance with the rules and regulations of the sponsor.
UAH encourages the commercial development of intellectual property, including patents, copyrights, and trademarks, that will benefit the public as well as the faculty and staff of the university. The senior vice president for research and associate provost, acting through the patents and copyright administrator, has general responsibility for the evaluation of inventions in which the university has an interest. Rule 510 of the Board of Trustees and UAH policies set forth the procedures to be followed when an employee develops employment-related inventions or copyrightable material, as well as the guidelines for distributing the revenue from such intellectual property to the employee and the university. (See Appendix G for details on the Patent Policy and Appendix H for the Copyright Policy)
The Research Mini-Grant Program is designed to encourage growth and development of research talents by members of the faculty in all academic areas. The program supports basic and applied research activities that are motivated by an effort to probe toward and discover new ideas, information or applications. The research mini-grant program is not intended for support of work that is part of a scheduled course, development of course curriculum, on-going sponsored research project, purchase of equipment for non-research purposes, or to satisfy requirements for a student's degree. The program is intended to enhance the individual faculty member's talents, scholarship, and ability to pursue research activities in his or her respective field of study. Hopefully the activities will enable the development of sponsored research from other sources. In this respect, one of the purposes of the research mini-grant program is to provide new faculty with experience in preparing a proposal.
Only full-time UAH faculty members are eligible to apply for grants under this program. Those holding a mini-grant award are not eligible to submit a new proposal until work has been completed and final report submitted on the current award. Especially appropriate are research projects of high quality by new faculty members and faculty in disciplines for which extramural funds are less readily available. Members of the research mini-grant awards committee are not eligible to apply for grants as principal investigator or co-investigator.
Awards are made by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research, based on recommendations by the research mini-grant awards committee. The awards committee consists of the senior vice president for research and one senior faculty member appointed by the dean of each of the colleges or schools, i.e., administrative science, liberal arts, engineering, science, and nursing. The senior vice president for research (or his or her designee) serves as chair of the awards committee. By majority vote, the awards committee recommends which proposals will be supported and the level of support that will be provided. Priority on proposals recommended for funding by the awards committee will be given to faculty members not previously awarded a mini-grant. Awards may be made up to $2,000.00. Guidelines on content and format of the proposal are available in the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research.
The increasing complexity of problems and research challenges faced by modern society often requires the formation of research groups comprised of faculty, students, and staff from several disciplines. Hence, the university supports the creation of multidisciplinary research units (institutes, centers and consortia) in response to regional and national needs and corresponding funding patterns. These research units are expected to foster the quality and competitiveness of UAH's research and instruction, to promote the attractiveness of UAH to outstanding prospective students and faculty, and to increase the flexibility in responding to research opportunities through the pooling of resources and interdisciplinary team efforts.
Research units may be formed within colleges or, in response to broader research tasks, as separate entities with university resources beyond and above those available to chairs and deans. A consortium will typically have strong industrial participation in its operation as well as in allocation of resources. Research units report either through a dean or directly to the senior vice president for research. The reporting route will be established at the initiation of a research unit.
At the end of each fiscal year, research units submit to the senior vice president for research a detailed report on research achievements, publications, interaction with faculty and students, teaching provided by center personnel, sponsored research funding, and short-term as well as long-term goals. The senior vice president for research appoints for each unit an advisory committee consisting of nationally recognized research leaders and chairs and deans of the pertinent colleges. This committee assists in the identification of research themes and faculty expertise.
The Research Institute fosters research within the colleges and research units through the establishment and maintenance of liaisons with research sponsors, particularly local and regional federal agencies and industries. It provides a focus for development and management of large multidisciplinary research grants, contracts, including specialized supporting laboratories. The Research Institute supports the organization and marketing of short- to medium-term teams of faculty and research staff in response to community service needs and other research opportunities. It performs research that enhances the growth and reputation of the university and creates opportunities for faculty and, especially, student participation.
Proposals for new research units are submitted through the appropriate chairs and deans, or directors, to the senior vice president for research prior to submission to potential sponsors. Proposals must include the following: a mission statement for the proposed research unit; a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of establishing the unit, including the potential impact on the university's academic and research programs; and a detailed five-year plan outlining the space, equipment, and budgetary resources required together with existing and potential funding sources.
Proposals for new research units are reviewed by an ad hoc committee appointed by the senior vice president for research and consisting of faculty of the relevant college(s) involved as well as members of the existing research units. The recommendations of this review committee are presented to the Research Council for its consideration and recommendations. The recommendations of the ad hoc review committee along with the recommendations of the Research Council are submitted to the senior vice president for research and associate provost, who will approve or disapprove the proposal after consultation and agreement with the provost and the president.
Board approval for a new research unit may also be necessary. Board of Trustees Rule 517, Establishment of Designated Centers and Institutes, requires that:
any center that has a major involvement in instruction or research must be approved by the Board of Trustees after being reviewed and approved on the campus. Centers that are primarily focused on providing service will follow the same internal campus review and approval procedures but will be submitted to the Board of Trustees as an information item, unless creating them requires a significant commitment of institutional funds and/or physical resources. In that case the proposal for creating the center will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval rather than as an information item.
Existing centers are reviewed annually for fiscally sound management and performance. The performance and relevance of each research unit are also comprehensively reviewed at least every five years, following the same procedure as the review of proposals for new units. Findings and recommendations are submitted to the senior vice president for research and associate provost, who decides on continuation or dissolution after consultation and agreement with the provost and the president. A report of the findings is made accessible campus-wide.
Directors of research units are appointed by the senior vice president for research and associate provost in consultation with the Research Council and with the concurrence of the provost and the president. Directors must have demonstrated national research leadership and in the interest of an optimal interaction with faculty should have extensive academic experience. Directors of research units should be eligible for an academic appointment at the associate professor or professor level and should be consulted by the respective chairs and deans in questions of promotion and tenure of faculty associated with their research unit.
In addition to the annual performance appraisal of all university employees, a comprehensive evaluation of the performance of a director of a research unit is conducted every five years, following guidelines similar to those used for the evaluation of deans, under the chairmanship of the senior vice president for research and associate provost.
In the interest of promoting cooperation and interaction between colleges and research units, a large percentage of the senior research staff employed by research units should be eligible for faculty appointments.
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