A review of the research grant and contract support services offered by the Office of the Vice-President (Research) has been released for community consultation.

Dr. Richard Marceau, vice-president (research), initiated a study in July 2013 to develop a proposal for streamlining and formalizing the processes within the Office of the Vice-President (Research) related to research grant and contract support services. Almost 100 people participated in the review process.

“One of my goals is to strengthen the tradition of service and research excellence that has characterized the Vice-President (Research) portfolio,” said Dr. Marceau. “This draft report is a first step on the journey of establishing a stronger customer-service focus in all aspects of the portfolio, and I hope that all members of Memorial’s research community, faculty, students and post-doctoral fellows, at all campuses, will take the time to review and share their feedback.”

The review, which was led by Richard Meaney, director of Technical Services, identifies 12 recommendations to improve the research grant and contract support services within the Office of the Vice-President (Research) by streamlining and simplifying processes, empowering Memorial’s academic units at all campuses, intensifying its partnerships with the Office of the Vice-President (Finance and Administration) and the School of Graduate Studies, and aiming to provide a superior customer service experience wherever possible.

The recommendations include using technology-based tools to better manage information, giving academic units at all campuses greater autonomy in the administration of startup funding for tenure-track and tenured faculty, and providing adequate resources for the establishment of research accounts to ensure the average account opening time does not exceed one week.

The review also recommends reviewing and simplifying research-related policies, including simplifying Memorial’s policy on Indirect Cost of Contract Research, establishing a new overhead rate that is more generally acceptable and reviewing the policies related to the ownership of intellectual property to clarify the principles governing its implementation on research contracts.

The review found that the informed consent process does not normally fit within the mandate of the Offices of Research Services and Collaborations and Partnerships, and recommends that the progressive transfer of this process be discussed with the School of Graduate Studies and academic units at all campuses.

Grant and contract review and approval in the Office of the Vice-President (Research) was identified as an area that should be brought in line with best practices, including concentrating all pre-award activities in one unit to avoid unnecessary confusion.

The review also recommends an adjustment of base funding to ensure the sustainability of CREAIT, Memorial’s network of shared major research equipment, and greater involvement of academic units in its daily operations and management to improve customer service.

Three of the 12 recommendations relate to creating a culture of customer service through clear objectives and performance metrics, mentoring, a modest investment in personnel and ensuring that academic units at all campuses have the minimum capabilities to interact with the Office of the Vice-President (Research) and its related units.

Underlying all of these recommendations is the need to recognize and respect the campus-specific culture of Memorial’s Grenfell and Marine Institute campuses, as embodied by their own respective policies and procedures.

The entire report can be viewed online as a pdf document.

“I’d like to thank all those who contributed to the development of the draft report,” said Dr. Marceau. “To ensure that we are moving in the correct direction, everyone with a stake in timely, effective and customer-focused research support services should carefully review the findings to ensure that this report accurately reflects the current practices and procedures and that the recommendations we have outlined make sense for Memorial.”

Feedback on the report will be accepted until Nov. 15, 2013, via email, vp.research@mun.ca, or internal mail, Office of the Vice-President (Research), A-2021, St. John’s campus.

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