Communicating with Research Faculty: Challenges and Strategies

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Communicating with Research Faculty: Challenges and Strategies. Rachel Dresbeck, Ph.D., Director, Research Development and Communication Katie Wilkes, B.A., Program Manager, Research Funding and Development Services Oregon Health & Science University. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation


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Communicating with Research Faculty: Challenges and StrategiesRachel Dresbeck, Ph.D., Director, Research Development and CommunicationKatie Wilkes, B.A., Program Manager, Research Funding and Development Services

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University Portland, Oregon

OHSU is scattered across multiple campuses. It is an academic health center, with 4 schools, about 1100 PIs, few undergrads, and about $360 million in sponsored projects. Our role as research development professionals and communications professionals. How they are tied. 2Communications challengesWhat information do you want people to have?

Who do you want to receive this information?

What are your barriers?

Have them spend two minutes writing down some barriers3Things weve learned working with facultyWe do not live in an economy of information.

We do live in an economy of attention.Information delivery is NOT communicaionAvoid bureaucratic language. No one will read what you have to say unless they feel its relevance.- Make it very clear who your message is targeting. Readers should know within the first sentence or two if something is relevant to just graduate students, junior faculty, or everyone.4Common Barriers:

People are busy!People dont care about what you care about!People dont perceive the need to know about the things youve done for them!

Challenge: telling people about the new F&A rate

TO All PIs:For the past nine months, a team from Central Financial Services and the Sponsored Projects Office has been has been charged with leading the development of a coordinated and institution-wide system to develop a new cost-based facilities and administrative rate agreement. West Coast U (WCU) has a long and robust history of supporting the full spectrum of basic, clinical, and translational biomedical research. Accelerating biomedical research to the benefit of human health is now a particular institutional focus. Its an opportune time to take the next step in putting together the necessary infrastructure. "Research is evolving at WCU and nationally, the NIH demands new ways of doing impactful science with fewer dollars. We too must extend and evolve the original concept that formed its foundation - a comprehensive research platform thats integrated and well-coordinated across the institution, said Dr. Vice President for Research. Serious Person, MD, WCU Provost, similarly notes that she is all in favor of creating research across the institution, schools and programs.Thus, it is important that this be a University wide message.New F&A rate memo. Example of what not to do How would you fix this?Problems: starts with the history. Audience is not clear. No call to action. Veers off into irrelevance. Thinks it can exert authority by quoting institutional leaders. 6Strategy: Make the call to action clear.A new Facilities & Administrative (F&A) Cost Rate Agreement was issued to Academic Health Center on 2/18/09 and is effective now.This will affect you in three main ways: 1) You will need to plan your budgets for new and competing renewal grants very carefully when writing the applications. Because the F&A rates increase incrementally over the various fiscal years, budgeting for F&A costs is more complex.If you spend more in the early or late stages of the grant, the direct costs may need to be re-budgeted as F&A costs.Its your responsibility to plan for this, because youll have to spend within the total cost awarded.

2) Starting on July 1, 2010, your costs may change if your spending varies from the categories you budgeted

3) You need to know the process for carry-overs and no-cost extensions. No-cost extensions related to awards issued prior to 2/18/09 will be assessed the old F&A rates. (Etc.) - Tie this back to Information delivery communication, audience targeting, etc. Subject line is KEY. The remaining strategies are designed to deal with barriers.

7Strategy: Use your tools appropriatelyWe use blogs, email, websites, newsletters, Facebook, informal networking, meetings, snail mail, presentationsand even emails.

Lots of tools, but how do you use them strategically?

Start by thinking critically about the audience. Key to using this successfully is knowing the resources you have available. Who is the communications hub on your campus? Is there someone you can partner with to share resources? Funding alerts they still like to hear from us even with SciVal Funding. That is OK.8Strategy: Target Your MessagesPeople appreciate targeted communication!

Example (targeted outreach to postdoctoral fellows):Postdoc Update newsletterPostdoc Facebook pageWhen emailing postdocs, use an email header such as:Postdocs: Learn new collaboration tools, Nov. 2

Barrier: getting through information clutter. Again, this is about knowing your audience.9Strategy: Use Old-School Methods! Never underestimate the power of informal communication!

Examples:Flyers at the elevatorsPhysical letters that is, stationery and note cards.Networking eventsTable or booth at an on-campus eventBuild a good reputation so that you get referralsBarrier: what if you dont have a communications hub? Dept of the Army invitation. Thank you notes. Welcome letters. Even postcards can work10Strategy: Document Your EffortsMeasure everything! Track success rates of communications efforts.

Examples:Google Analytics for websitesEmail management software if youre sending emails to groups of people (e.g. Mail Chimp)Keep a spreadsheet to track attendance for classes and workshops

We use Active Campaign to send out emails and google analytics. This helps you understand what to do and what not to do for example, if no one is clicking on your research development workshops for adorable kittens, maybe you should investigate other tools, target them to puppies, etc. [note here about what are good read rates.] Also comes in handy when senior faculty say they never got the email about whatever. Happened recently to me; it turned out she had opened the exact email 13 times.11A word about surveys.Before you decide to send a survey, here are some things to think about:

Do you really need to send a survey? Is the purpose of the survey clear? What will the survey information be used for?Are you going to get good information from the survey?Could you send a targeted survey to a sample population?(Recent targeted survey at OHSU had 40% response rate.)If you do send a survey, keep it short and add an incentive.Data stewardship survey story. Every week we are asked to send a survey to all faculty about all kinds of things. There are probably better ways of getting information12Case study: Implementing a Researcher Profile ToolGoal: To make faculty and staff aware that our new tool SciVal Experts is the place to go to find out who does what at OHSU.Barrier: Faculty complain that they dont know who does what and they didnt use the previous tool, but they are suspicious of change. Solution: Soft launch with highly orchestrated communication planKey messages: SciVal Experts is now powered by Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, with over 18,000 titles from more than 5,000 international publishers. More robust than PubMed!SciVal Experts is a directory of research expertise that makes it easy to find who does what, what theyve published, and who is working with whom.Contact if your profile seems to be missing publication information or if you need to make any changes to your profile.KEY: Communication plan needs to be thought about from the beginning. Communication drives strategy and program. (e.g. do we just launch it or do we tell them we launched it?13Case study: Implementing a Researcher Profile ToolProblem: OHSU requires a gateway page, which could be a barrier.

Solution: Redesigned OHSUs gateway page and create a vanity URL (

Explains exactly what SciVal Experts is and gives role-specific instructions on use.

14Case study: Implementing a Researcher Profile ToolProblem: Researchers dont always read announcements or things fall off their radar.

Solution: Post a tutorial on OHSU Research News weekly for 5 weeks that covers a new aspect of the tool (e.g. how to search by concept, how to navigate a faculty profile).

Keeps SciVal Experts in the news without being redundant.

15Case study: Implementing a Researcher Profile ToolOther communication activities we used:

Posted SciVal Experts flyers in research buildingsHosted an Elsevier training on-campusPresented at the Research Administration monthly meetingTable at New Faculty OrientationAdded link to SciVal Experts to email signaturesMentioned during Human Investigations Program talkResearch Administration trainings (RDA 101, Essentials of Grant Administration)16Case study: Implementing a Researcher Profile Tool

Track success!! Check it out!17Questions?Contact info:Oregon Health & Sciences UniversityResearch Funding & Development Services

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