Taking A New Approach To Research Administration
Nearly half of all basic research conducted in the United States takes place at research universities. Universities are often uniquely situated to perform this kind of work, but changes in research funding and a renewed focus on university-based research are making new demands on research administration.
For nearly 7 decades following World War II, the federal government was the primary source of basic research funding in the US. The federal commitment to research funding exceeded 70% when it peaked in the 1970’s. Since that time, federal research dollars have tracked inversely with the federal debt. As federal debt spending increased, research funding fell, and when the federal debt dropped, Congress allocated additional funds to basic research.
In 2013, combined corporate spending on basic research surpassed federal spending for the first time. At the same time, universities are increasing (albeit slowly) their own commitments to funding basic research. This funding shift is happening at a time when more scientists are entering research occupations. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of scientists engaged in research occupations will grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028 – faster than average for BLS-tracked occupations.
The confluence of these factors is introducing new pressures on research administration. With the growth in research occupations and the decline of traditional funding sources, competition for funding has increased. This is also driving the need for increased efficiency in research administration.
Addressing the need for efficiency in research administration
Declining federal research funds, increased competition for available dollars, the need to manage multiple major grant programs simultaneously and growing compliance and reporting requirements have combined to make extraordinary demands on electronic research administration (eRA) software. Legacy systems don’t provide the flexibility today’s research institutions need to support efficient workflows and modern business processes. Inefficient eRAs increase the time needed to enter or import data; search records; identify actual or potential conflicts; generate reports; reconcile budgets; create new proposals or modify existing ones; conduct reviews and perform other critical research administration tasks. Working with inflexible and unresponsive eRA software can significantly increase the cost of research administration, introduce delays in the grant-seeking and grant administration process, and limit an institution’s ability to respond quickly to new research funding opportunities.
In contrast, working with an eRA system built to address the needs of modern research administration enables an institution to modernize its business processes, and introduce efficiencies that can give it a competitive advantage when seeking research funding.
The ideal eRA system uses a modern programming architecture and modular approach to enable institutions to customize the system to meet their unique research administration needs. Seamless integration between modules eliminates conflicts between modules and eliminates the need to re-enter data. Although the demands of research administration can be complex, the ideal eRA system simplifies the work, increases efficiency, and reduces both costs and time spent on administrative tasks.
With the increased focus on research administration, a contemporary eRA system must scale to meet the needs of small-, medium- or large-sized institutions, and it must also be both highly reliable and highly available. Cloud-based deployment of an eRA means that university IT departments don’t have to devote scarce resources to planning, deploying, maintaining and upgrading another on-premises system, or ask users to tolerate scheduled or unscheduled downtime.
Streamlyne offers highly flexible, cloud-based research administration solutions that allow an organization’s business processes to determine its approach to data management. Streamlyne allows institutions to focus on creating efficient research administration processes without compromise. We also offer a highly flexible customization framework that enables you to manage compliance, and respond rapidly to funding opportunities and reporting requests.
When you use Streamlyne, you always maintain full control of your data, and if you choose, you can extract your data from the cloud and use it with your business intelligence systems. For more information about Streamlyne and to learn about how we can help increase research administration efficiency, please reach out to us. https://streamlyne.com/contact/