Sept. 8, 2011

Research support changes under way

by Erin Rosacker

Several changes are in the works at the Office for Responsible Research (ORR), aiming to improve the processes that support ISU's record-setting research enterprise. Jerry Zamzow, ORR program manager, outlined the unit's reorganization at the Sept. 1 Professional and Scientific Council open forum.

Zamzow said changes are needed to handle ISU's increasing number of research requests. ORR oversees four committees that review proposals, including:

  • Institutional Review Board (IRB), for use of human participants
  • Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), for use of live vertebrate animals
  • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC), for use of potential biohazards
  • Radiation Safety Committee (RSC), for use of radioactive materials or radiation devices

Zamzow said a series of listening sessions with faculty and staff researchers and an evaluation of current processes helped identify areas for improvement. For instance, a flow chart (PDF) has been developed to help researchers determine if an IRB review is needed.

"We've done a real overhaul of some of our internal processes to see where we can improve," Zamzow said. "There certainly were some things that we needed to fix."

The office currently is revising its applications, processes and staff assignments. Some of the changes are expected this month, including a simplified IRB application process that has been tested with non-users to make it more intuitive.

What's next

Zamzow said incomplete, inconsistent or incomprehensible applications will be returned, eliminating back-and-forth e-mails that contribute to a backlog of applications. Departmental reviews likely will be added prior to ORR submissions, a step already proven beneficial in the psychology and kinesiology departments.

Electronic submissions using the Kuali Coeus online system is planned in 2013, with implementation beginning as early as next year. An interim electronic method still is being considered, particularly for the low-risk studies which Zamzow said comprise the majority of ISU's studies.

Listening session is Sept. 14

Researchers are encouraged to give their input on the services provided by the university. Sharron Quisenberry, vice president for research and economic development, and Pam Cain, associate vice president for business and finance, will host a third listening session on Wednesday, Sept. 14 (9-11 a.m., MU Gallery).

"We have an open listening policy," Quisenberry told forum attendees. "If there is something that we can improve, we will definitely look at it and do everything we possibly can to make sure those changes are put into place to make those processes easier."