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Archive for Tuesday, February 23, 2010

KU task force looks at ways to improve research

February 23, 2010

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A task force convened by Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little is recommending new ways to upgrade the level of scholarly research being done at the school.

Three of the group’s recommendations were unveiled at a public forum Monday afternoon:

• Create a comprehensive system for measuring research engagement by KU faculty.

• Charge the dean of each college or school with the implementation of specific actions to promote, increase, sustain and recognize research engagement by their faculty and students.

• Enhance resources available to achieve and sustain high levels of research engagement.

Kristin Bowman-James, university distinguished professor of chemistry, is the co-chair of the task force. She outlined several specific measures that could come as a result of these recommendations.

There’s a need, she said, to begin to measure research by some other metrics than what are currently available. Today, KU measures its research output primarily by using total grant funding, which doesn’t adequately represent disciplines that don’t require high amounts of external funds to do their work, she said.

Different research profiles could eventually be compiled in a centralized data location, and would lead to the creation of an annual report.

“We have to make sure no one is slighted,” Bowman-James said.

The creation of the report would allow KU to compare its research engagement with peer institutions.

The task force called for the reduction of barriers to research, and for reducing inefficiencies like too many meetings and redundant reporting.

Faculty who are not as involved in research could take on more teaching and service responsibilities, according to the task force recommendation, thereby freeing up more research-engaged faculty to do more work.

Bowman-James and Steve Warren, vice provost for research and graduate studies and co-chair of the task force, took comments from an audience of more than 50 people on subjects ranging from questions about how collaboration might hurt the tenure process to suggestions on how to create a better centralized database of research.

Warren thanked the audience for the feedback, and said the task force is seeking additional responses to the recommendations made in its report. Anyone interested in providing feedback may do so by e-mailing rgs@ku.edu by Friday.

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