All Articles by jeffhoron

31 Articles

Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Core Facility Investment to Enable Research – NORDP 2015

Download “Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Core Facility Investment to Enable Research” from the National Organization of Research Development Professionals (NORDP) 2015 Conference, Bethesda, Maryland: [PDF]

Full text:


NORDP 2015

Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Core Facility Investment to Enable Research

Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier Research Intelligence

Abstract

In “Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Enable Research,” authors Grieb, Horon, Wong, Durkin, and Kunkel present a comprehensive set of best practices for providing leading-edge core facilities that contribute to the successful execution of research and increase competitiveness for external sponsorship. The authors conclude:

“…. This approach has created a number of standardized, transparent processes to effectively manage central infrastructure that enables enterprise-wide research, including a process for capital equipment planning, a procedure to evaluate new cores, a method for reviewing and managing the lifecycle of existing cores (invest, maintain, or sun-down), an investment in the administration and operational efficiencies of the cores, and support for the development and implementation of new methodologies for our investigators. The execution of these processes has provided faculty with forward-looking technologies to facilitate innovative research and provide a competitive edge for extramural support.”

Therefore the mechanisms for improvement of core facility management and the tangible benefits thereof are understood, but it is often initially not understood how to identify and diagnose sub-optimal funds flows and investment decisions. Funds flows, particularly those related to capital equipment depreciation, can have significant effects on core facility fees to investigators, indirect cost recovery, and availability of funds for equipment replacement/upgrades and provision of new services. Increased understanding of these funds flows can lead to better investment decisions involving strategic allocation of funds to urgent equipment and facility needs as identified by scientific advisory (versus haphazard or ‘hat in hand’ voluntary fundraising models) and periodic review, both to elicit new services investigators would benefit from and to phase out services that have become inefficient or commoditized.

Understanding Funds Flows

Capital equipment ‘on core facility books’ vs…

Capital equipment costs may:

-be factored into investigator-facing costs, reducing the need for subsidization and providing automatic return of funds to repair, replace, and upgrade equipment; however, higher investigator-facing costs may also reduce perceived competitiveness and/or utilization

-fall into capped cost pools, reducing overall indirect cost recovery to the institution

…. ‘on university books’

Capital equipment costs may:

-be factored out of investigator-facing costs, increasing perceived competitiveness and/or utilization; however, funds flows need to be understood and managed such that there are funds to repair, replace, and upgrade equipment; increased subsidization may be required, and some of the benefits may accrue to users external to the institution

-fall into uncapped cost pools, increasing overall indirect cost recovery to the institution

Investment Decision Framework

(adapted from Grieb, et. al., [i] Fig. 1)

nordp-2015-core-facility-investment

By understanding funds flows, institutions can enable strategic decision-making, such as the core facility investment decision framework presented in Grieb, et. al.

In particular, the existence of designated funds for equipment repair, replacement, upgrades, and new equipment purchases implies that there will be input from a scientific advisory board (“What sorts of new equipment and services do our investigators require?”) and/or executive leadership, determining how funds will be allocated from a strategic perspective.

This comprehensive view may lead to further improvements in business processes, e.g. phasing out services that have been commoditized.


 

[i] Grieb, et. al. “Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Enable Research.” Journal of Research Administration Fall 2014. Vol. XLV. No. 2: http://srainternational.org/publications/journal/volume-xlv-number-2/optimizing-institutional-approaches-enable-research

Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks – COINs15 Tokyo

Download “Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks” from the Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs15), Tokyo, Japan – Paper: [PDF] [arXiv] [arXiv PDF] Presentation: [PDF] Poster: [PDF]

Full text:


Proceedings of the 5th International Conference on Collaborative Innovation Networks (COINs15)

Emerging Methods and Tools for Sparking New Global Creative Networks

Jeff Horon, Elsevier Research Intelligence, 360 Park Ave S, New York, NY, 10010, USA

Abstract

Emerging methods and tools are changing the ways participants in global creative networks become aware of each other and proceed to interact.  These methods and tools are beginning to influence the collaboration opportunities available to network participants.
Some web-based resources intended to spark new collaborations in creative networks have been plagued by dependence on fragmented or out-of-date information, having shallow recall (e.g. by being limited to a list of manually curated keywords), offering poor interconnectivity with other systems, and/or obtaining low end-user adoption.

Increased availability of information about creative network participants’ activities and outputs (such as completed sponsored research projects and published results, aggregated into global databases), coupled with advancement in information processing techniques like Natural Language Processing (NLP), enables new web-based technologies for discovering subject matter experts, facilities, and networks of current and potential collaborators.  Large-scale data resources and NLP allow modern versions of these tools to avoid the problems of having sparse/fragmented data and also provide for deep recall, sometimes within and across many disciplinary vocabularies.  These tools are known as “passive” technologies, from the perspective of the creative network participant, because the agent must undertake an action to use the information resources placed at his or her disposal.

Emerging “active” methods and tools utilize the same types of information and technologies, but actively intervene in the formation of the creative network by suggesting connections and arranging virtual or physical interactions.  Active approaches can achieve very high end-user adoption rates.

Both active and passive methods strive to use data-driven approaches to form better-than-chance awareness among networks of potential collaborators.  Modern instances of both types of systems generally support interconnectivity with other systems, and therefore expand the size of participants’ networks, resulting in a larger pool of potential collaborators from which to draw upon, within the system and additionally wherever the data is repurposed (e.g. into federated searches and customized applications).

Examples and Case Studies

“Passive” Networking Applications

The most widely deployed applications (providers) are: the Pure Experts portal (Elsevier), VIVO (DuraSpace), and Harvard Profiles (Harvard Medical School).  Each of these applications facilitates search and discovery of subject matter experts and their research activities and outputs.  These systems are generally organized and supported at the university level.  These applications are also federated into multi-institutional search frameworks including Direct2Experts and CTSAsearch – both of which are open to all three of the networking applications above, as well as other less widely deployed applications.

“Active” Networking Applications

Efforts toward active networking interventions are sometimes made with ‘researcher speed dating’ activities, but these generally rely on an audience with some mutual interests being gathered together (e.g. at a conference or symposium) and pairings are typically random.  Despite the existence of predictive factors for propensity to collaborate and likelihood of achieving team goals (e.g. obtaining external funding for research projects)[i], data-driven active networking methods are comparatively rarely used.  Prior case studies in active networking include:

Team design for large center and team science proposals

The University of Michigan Medical School assisted a principal investigator applicant for a large center grant with team formation, based on identifying potential participants publishing or having sponsored projects in subject matter related to the center.  This allowed for discovery of related expertise by analyzing term co-occurrence, and then discovery of the subject matter experts working with those concepts.  Multiple rounds of iteration resulted in a list of keywords, stemmed to related key terms, such that the list was both inclusive of the desired family of concepts and exclusive of ‘false positive’ matches.

Suggested casual interactions at a physical event

At an institute launch event, the University of Michigan employed search methods similar to those above for objective detection of researchers working in related topic areas, to supplement institute founders’ knowledge of researchers working in relevant topic areas with information about previously-unknown researchers also working in these topic areas.  Objective detection allowed for increased inclusiveness and comprehensiveness of the launch conference invitee list.

Launch event organizers solicited survey responses from participants concerning areas of methodological expertise, methodological needs for upcoming projects, and areas of interest within several pre-identified areas related to the institute.

Attendees were matched based upon expressing strong mutual interest in a topic and/or by study method, in situations where one researcher expressed a need for expertise in a method and another research expressed the ability to share methodological expertise in the same method.  Reciprocal methodological need/provision matches were considered especially strong matches (Figure 1):

coins15-figure1

Figure 1:   A generalized example of an especially strong match

Existing collaboration data covering co-authored publications and co-participation on sponsored projects were used to rule out matches who had collaborated in the past.

To maximize the chances strong matches would interact, the seating chart was also arranged to place strong matches at the same tables.  This event also included conversation-provoking material, including a visualization of attendees arranged in a social networking diagram according to indicated areas of strong interest.

The matching process proved to be very flexible and was used to support a novel approach to bridging mentorship gaps in pediatric research[ii].

Scheduled interactions at a physical event

The University of Texas System M.D. Anderson Cancer Center has in recent years built into a key global cancer conference activities for scheduled networking interactions.  The survey mechanism is similar to the University of Michigan example above, as are the recommendations, but there is also accommodation for arranging meetings including generally a mix of online meeting coordination, dedicated meeting time available, and dedicated meeting spaces available.  Given rotating global locations and varied attendees from year-to-year, priority is given to matches from different institutions as there may only be one time they are physically co-located.

In addition to the meetings booked during a specific speed dating event window in the conference program, the project team also noted a number of off-hours and informal meetings taking place, driven in part by the recommended matches.

Conclusion

These emerging methods and tools suggest the existence of repeatable strategies for facilitating data-driven matching and better-than-chance interactions designed to spark new global creative networks.  As these methods become further systematized and see wider adoption, they are poised to influence larger numbers of creative networks and their participants.


[i] Lungeanu, A., Huang, Y., and Contractor, N.S. (2014) “Understanding the assembly of interdisciplinary teams and its impact on performance.” Journal of Informetrics.  8(1):59-70.

[ii] Nigrovic, P.A., Muscal, E., Riebschleger, M., et. al. (2014) “AMIGO: A Novel Approach to the Mentorship Gap in Pediatric Rheumatology” Journal of Pediatrics 164(2):226-7.e1-3.

University, Industry, and Government Partnership: A Science and Technology Roadmap to Drive Innovation – APLU 2014

Download “University, Industry, and Government Partnership: A Science and Technology Roadmap to Drive Innovation” from the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) Annual Meeting 2014, Orlando, Florida: [PDF]

Hosted by: Elsevier Research Intelligence

The Illinois Science & Technology Coalition (ISTC) in September 2014 issued the Illinois Science & Technology Roadmap (S&T Roadmap), an innovative, data-driven report that identifies key technology areas where Illinois has a comparative advantage in innovation.  As one of the Roadmap’s key data partners, Elsevier helped ISTC identify the science and technology research strengths of Illinois.  Drawing on data from Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database, Elsevier and ISTC analyzed indicators of research output and citation impact, cross-sector collaboration, patent citations, and research usage to determine what are Illinois’s main competitive research strengths vis-à-vis other peer states and the US as a whole.

You will see results from the S&T Roadmap and learn how universities’ research offices, tech transfer and commercialization offices, and corporate relations as well as those from industry (tech/company incubators, VC funders) and government (national labs, Department of Commerce, etc.) can work together to impact innovation at the state level.

Speaker: Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier Research Intelligence

Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Enable Research – Journal of Research Administration

Our article “Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Enable Research” is now available in the Journal of Research Administration Volume XLV, No. 2.

Society of Researchers International members can access the article at: http://srainternational.org/publications/journal/volume-xlv-number-2/optimizing-institutional-approaches-enable-research

From the editor:

In “Optimizing Institutional Approaches to Enable Research”, Grieb and co-authors focus on a key requirement of research administrators, that of ensuring there is adequate infrastructure to create the backbone for cutting edge research. Within the constraints of a university budget, core facilities must be sustained and replaced in order to compete for extramural funding. “The historic high-end, self-sufficient laboratories have been mostly replaced by laboratories that rely on institutionally supported infrastructure (i.e. core facilities).” Decision making about what to support, the cost of the support and the replacement of the core facilities is often not well managed. An institutional approach for enhancing the effectiveness of core infrastructure operations by implementing process improvements, managing the lifecycle of core facilities, and monitoring key core facilities’ metrics is described. In doing so, it addresses one of the key concerns raised in the article by Derrick and Nickson, that strategies that engage researchers, promote communication between administrators and researchers, and lead to a collaborative approach to streamline bureaucratic processes engenders success.

Expertise and Resource Portals for University-Industry Engagement – UEDA Annual Summit 2014

Abstract:

University systems, state governments, and economic development organizations are developing new expertise and resource portals to foster university-industry engagement. These portals expose subject matter experts conducting research and university resources like core facilities willing to engage with industry, making experts and resources discoverable by search and easier to connect with.

Download slides from our panel at the University Economic Development Association Annual Summit 2014, Santa Fe, New Mexico: Jeff Horon: [PDF] [View on SlideShare], George Raudenbush [View on SlideShare], and David Knowles on behalf of Sharlini Sankaran [View on SlideShare] or view the embedded SlideShare presentations shared by UEDA.

Jeff Horon, Elsevier Research Intelligence (moderator):

David Knowles on behalf of Sharlini Sankaran, ReachNC:

George Raudenbush, Arizona State University:

Data-Enabled and Spontaneous Researcher Networking at an International Conference – SciTS 2014

Download “Data-Enabled and Spontaneous Researcher Networking at an International Conference” from the Science of Team Science [SciTS] 2014 conference: PDF

Abstract:

This case study explores the use of both data-enabled and spontaneous researcher networking activities among attendees at an international conference based in Seoul, South Korea, in an attempt to utilize knowledge from the Science of Team Science field and discern best practices in their application.

Data-enabled networking activities included an advance survey of all attendees to find participants willing to participate in networking activities, and then suggesting networking partners based upon methodological expertise, methodological needs, and common interests. Response rates and participant feedback will be discussed.

Spontaneous networking activities were also made available to attendees stopping by a physical networking space made available for the duration of the conference. Activities included live browsing of research networking tools and a system for making requests related to research and responding to the requests of others, based upon sociological theories of reciprocity. Participation rates and participant feedback will be discussed.

Visualization for Research Management – VIVO 2014

Download “Visualization for Research Management” from the VIVO 2014 conference: PDF

Abstract:

Universities and funding bodies are placing increasing emphasis on return on investment (ROI) related to research. Research managers at all levels need objective metrics and data, further developed into visualizations, that provide insights to support decisions about investments and that also promote understanding of the outcomes of those decisions.

It is critical to have visibility to both inputs and outputs related to research, and VIVO-compatible data can be used for these purposes. Examples include:

-An organizational dashboard used by top-level administrators at a large research organization (>$0.5 Billion annual research expenditure)

-Benchmarking and collaboration analysis

-Faculty activity reporting

-Recruitment and retention analysis

Strategies for Increasing the Competitiveness of Team Science and Center Grant Proposals – NORDP 2014

Download “Strategies for Increasing the Competitiveness of Team Science and Center Grant Proposals” from the NORDP 2014 Conference: PDF

Co-presenters

Christine Black, Assistant Director, University of Michigan Medical School Office of Research

Jeff Horon, Consultant, Elsevier Research Intelligence

Problem statement

Multiple factors in the research landscape are converging to make the competitiveness of an institution’s team science and center grant proposals critical to long-term financial sustainability. Science is increasingly performed in larger teams. Funding bodies are receiving more proposals for the same award dollars. These factors, combined with the larger financial scale of team science and center grant proposals, make it more important than ever to submit proposals that will stand apart from the crowd.

Best practices

Christine Black will discuss the array of resources and services available to investigators at the University of Michigan Medical School, including:

Direct proposal assistance – defraying the costs of proposal preparation, editing services, and peer review

Informational resources – a database of previously funded proposals,

CTSA resources for team science

Attention to resource-based competitiveness – maintenance of leading-edge cores / shared service facilities and equipment, and a database of the resources available

Jeff Horon will discuss further non-traditional and data-enabled support, including:

Team formation assistance – discovering new team/center participants via searches of subject matter expertise data

Evidence to increase proposal impact – utilizing network analysis of prior co-authorship and co-participation on sponsored projects

Direct proposal assistance – establishing data resources to complete exhibits and supplementary data requirements with minimal burden on pre-award staff

Topic tracks: Managing team science/team research, Large proposal development

Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies – NORDP 2014

Download “Evidence-based Metrics for Research Performance Strategies” from the Pre-NORDP 2014 Workshop: PDF

This presentation covers:

What are metrics?
+How to develop good metrics

Metrics for research
+How to develop good research metrics

Expanding research dashboard metrics to benchmarking and collaboration

Drilling beneath research dashboard metrics for advanced use

Abstract:

With increased competition in the US R&D landscape, research institutions are taking a strategic approach to research and collaboration strategies. Structured data sources, evidence-based metrics, and collaboration and benchmarking tools, as delivered by the new Pure Experts Portal, are increasingly being used by research managers to inform decision making and to enhance their institutions research strategy. Current users of SciVal Experts will share case studies and how they have used the web services and functionality of SciVal Experts to address critical institution needs.

Blood in the Footsteps of Emperors – Noryangjin [노량진] and Deoksugung [덕수궁], Seoul, South Korea

Landing at Incheon International Airport [ICN] around 6:00 AM, my wife and I were ready to begin the day in Seoul.  We had a several-hour layover to make the most of, and faith that a visit to the Noryangjin Wholesale Fisheries Market [노량진수산시장] would make the lengthy and expensive taxi ride (>1 hour, >$70) into town worthwhile.

It was a very cold February morning and the market was dotted with small stoves heating meals, tea kettles, and of course the vendors.

We walked up and down each aisle, observing the variety of sea life represented – some familiar, some unfamiliar, and some of it mounting an escape attempt.

We exited to the south and refueled with pretzels and coffee (lattes were about $4.50) at Tom N Tom’s Coffee, a chain with several locations throughout Seoul in the red hot – some say overheated– café culture, before hailing a taxi.

The warmth of the taxi and the enclosed space revealed to us that we smelled bad.  BAD.  Like seafood restaurant dumpster bad.  We had spent the earlier part of the morning tramping through blood and puddles of runoff.  In the cold, open air of the market, it didn’t seem like much, but all the while it was wicking up into our jeans, and now it was decomposing.  Our driver was polite and cracked a window without saying a word.  I made a mental note to stay outside until we dried off.

Arriving at Deoksugung [덕수궁], I couldn’t help but notice the juxtaposition of the new and the old.  The ancient palace was across  a very busy street and an open square from the very modern Seoul City Hall [서울특별시청] building.  The traditional palace guards face down a Dunkin’ Donuts.

We weren’t quite sure what we’d find inside, but the entrance fee was only ₩1,000 (about $1).

Inside, the ancient nestled among the modern, with a heavy dose of surveillance technology.

But gradually the distractions melted away into palatial grandeur.

The gift shop was stocked with tasteful merchandise, with attention to traditional Korean motifs and supporting local artisans.

Our pant legs dry, we hailed another taxi back to the airport and bid Seoul goodbye.

Follow this itinerary:

Wherever you’re going in Korea, be sure your smartphone will reproduce Korean characters or that you bring a printed version of the name of your destination in Korean characters.  The proportion of English-speakers is lower than you might expect and in some cases Romanized names (e.g. Deoksugung instead of 덕수궁) can be of no help.

Expect to pay about $70 each way for a taxi from and back to the airport.  It’s a long ride.

Buses are about a quarter of the cost, but take a little more time.  Seek help at the bus information desk.  You’ll likely find an English-speaker there to write out your destination in Korean.  The experience feels a little like when the teacher pinned a note to your shirt in grade school.

An exchange rate in the ballpark of ₩1,000 = $1 means that currency conversion is easy.  Just chop off three decimal places.  That alarming ₩15,000 bus ticket is about $15.

Incheon International Airport [ICN] to Noryangjin Wholesale Fisheries Market [노량진수산시장 – free to enter]:

Noryangjin Wholesale Fisheries Market [노량진수산시장] to Deoksugung [덕수궁 – ₩1,000 (about $1) to enter]:

And Deoksugung [덕수궁] to Incheon International Airport [ICN]: