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Strengthening a Culture of Research Within Academic Units

Purpose

The purpose of this program is to strengthen the research culture within academic units where less than 60% of full-time, tenure/tenure-track faculty members are currently externally funded by increasing the number of faculty applying for external funding, improving the quality of those proposals, increasing the number of faculty receiving awards, and enabling access to internal peer review and ORE research development supports.

Challenge

Campus-wide, 42% of tenure and tenure-track faculty are currently funded. The percentage of faculty currently funded varies greatly between academic units. At UT, academic units that have a high percentage of faculty applying for funding typically have a high percentage of currently funded faculty.

In a recent survey about the resources available for faculty research support, more than 70% of faculty respondents indicated that they did not have access to departmental internal peer review of grant proposals and more than 55% indicated that they did not have access to college internal peer review panels.

This program seeks to encourage more quality proposals by enabling access to internal peer review and ORE research development supports.

Eligibility

Leaders (Department Heads or Dean/Associate Dean for Research) of academic units (departments or colleges that do not have departments) with more than 5 faculty members where less than 60% of full-time, tenure/tenure-track faculty members are currently externally funded.

Two or more eligible academic units are welcome to propose a joint program in lieu of proposing separate programs. This could be done within the context of a center or working group, if desired. In this case, the lead of the convening entity (e.g. center director) may submit the application and administer the program if the participating academic units agree and defer.

For the purpose of eligibility, faculty who received external funding during all or some of FY18 are considered currently funded. Please see the sidebar for a link to the full list of eligible units.

Academic units that are not included in the eligibility list may request an exception if circumstances within the academic unit have changed (e.g. departure of key faculty members) or if the award data overstates the current state of research within the unit (e.g. contract work that does not lend itself to scholarship).

Program Requirements

Under this program, academic unit leaders must establish a program that encourages external proposal submissions, provides internal peer review and formative feedback, and leverages ORE research development staff. Programs must include:

  • A clear description of the type or characteristics of the external proposals eligible for the academic unit’s program
  • A clear description of how much and when flexible research funds will be provided to the applicant and how it may be used (primarily for research, research-related travel, or publication costs)
  • A clear description of eligibility criteria with an emphasis on faculty who do not currently have external funding
  • A clear description of how much and when flexible research funds will be provided to reviewers and how it may be used (primarily for research, research-related travel, or publication costs)
  • A mechanism for reviewing and providing feedback from peers on proposals prior to submission
  • A mechanism for ensuring the feedback provided is considered and appropriately incorporated into the proposal
  • A systematic way for ORE research development staff to engage and support faculty pursuing external funding (e.g. participate in reviews or work with faculty to respond to reviewer comments)

Budget and Project Duration

Period of Performance: Funds may be requested for a one- or two-year project period, based on the scope of work. If funds are requested for a two-year project period, the approval and release of the second year of funding will be based on the review of the first year’s results. Carry-over requests from Year 1 into Year 2 will be considered with justification. Carry-over beyond the two-year period will not be permitted.

Award Amount: Academic unit leaders may request up to $15,000 total be allocated to their unit to increase the number of quality proposals being submitted to external funders.

Use of Funds: Funds in this program may be used to:

  • Provide flexible research funds to faculty serving as reviewers
  • Cover programmatic costs necessary for convening the review committee
  • Provide flexible research funds to faculty who utilize the review process and submit external proposals
  • Funds CANNOT be used to pay for external reviewers or faculty/staff salaries

Application Instructions

Online submission will include completion of the online application form as well as submitting the Program Narrative and Budget in a single pdf document. After submission, you should receive a confirmation receipt and if not, please contact avcrd@utk.edu.