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How Utah State University Upgraded Their Research Reporting

June 16, 2021

Four benefits of using Kuali Research Reporting

In the Office of Research at Utah State University, Dan Perry has utilized Kuali’s reporting to provide true transparency into the research administration across the entire campus. In a recent webinar, Perry walks us through the ways reporting has positively impacted not only his office, but the faculty and staff across the university.

First, the set up:

Before Kuali, he was creating reports in spreadsheets every single month, and even then they would not be current for very long. Inside Kuali, Perry created some standard dashboards for both proposals and awards.

With these dashboards, which are updated daily, he only needs to verify that data is accurate, and deans and department heads—or anyone with a login, for that matter—can see the data they need at any given time. Beyond these standard dashboards, he has helped various departments create unique reports just for them. For example, the Psychology Department wanted to easily see what each faculty member was working on, monitor the progress of various projects, and give recognition for accomplishments. So Perry created a specific dashboard for the department, which shows up in the department head’s login, with the pre-filtered information. He is able to run those specific pieces of data without combing through all the campus-wide data on the main Awards dashboard. And Perry doesn’t have to touch it again.

“This has really freed up my time,” Perry said. “Before this came along I was spending, on average, about 30 hours a month just creating and running reports, verifying that those reports were correct, and then sending them out to different people.”

Once the reports are created the first time, all Perry has to do subsequently is help Sponsored Programs folks verify the data to make sure it’s accurate, and these reports are available every day.

It’s hard to top a gain of 30 hours per month, but here are other ways the reporting tool has helped Utah State go beyond simply reporting numbers to fill various requirements:

1. Future budgeting

Award data is brought in to help with budgeting for future years. The research office and the departments they serve are able to look at trends, both recent and long-term. In addition, they are able to see when proposals were submitted on time or late, and how that affected the win rate of awards. Perry is hopeful to use this data to support the office’s late submission policy.

2. Promotion and tenure

In the past, Utah State relied on a self-reporting system to attach various faculty and staff members to projects. They found that people were getting attached when Sponsored Programs didn’t have any record of them being a part of the project.

Kuali’s reporting tool allows them to keep clear records. Faculty can still work with the office if they feel there is a discrepancy, but Kuali helps allow for checks and balances.

All of this information is very important when it comes to determining promotion and tenure. Department heads can look up a faculty member and see the whole history of what that particular person has done. They’ll be able to see what projects they are associated with and in what capacity. This can also be used to attribute to dollars brought into the university and other factors.

3. Effectiveness of internal grants and seed grants

The Office of Research provides a lot of internal grants and seed money to various departments on campus. They are now able to run reports to their return on investment for each of these awards. Did the number of proposal submissions go up? Is the award success rate improving? These types of questions can be answered through the Kuali Research reporting tool. For start-up funding, the office can track the faculty to ensure commitments are being upheld and the project is on track.

4. Transparency across departments and colleges

Historically, Utah State’s Office of Research has kept departmental data within the department. Perry said initially when they were looking for robust reporting, they also wanted it to be specific. When one dean logged in, they would see only their information.

In the past four years, they’ve had a change of heart. Because there is so much collaboration between faculty in different departments, it can be hard to determine who owns the data.

That change of heart has come in the form of transparency. Now, all research data is available to anyone who logs in. Perry says the philosophy is, we are a public institution and we have nothing to hide. Because of this change, the Office of Research can now be a part of the conversation about awards and dollars, instead of getting a finger pointed at them about who is getting more money, etc., and helps them stay out of the political fray.

Perry said there have been several benefits of visibility into the data:

  • Relieving the burden off of the Office of Research to provide requested data
  • Gives consistency to the data
  • Allows decision makers to have fast and easy access to the data

There were a few setbacks in the transition to opening it up to everyone. There were some who were surprised and not as comfortable with having their numbers out in the open. An example of this was when the Department of Computer Science moved out from the School of Engineering to the College of Science. Because of the transparency, the dean was able to see how much research the College of Science was doing, and it wasn’t as much as he anticipated.

Without that transparency, however, they would have had to come and ask the Office of Research for it, releasing that data would have to be cleared with the college first, and then brought back to the Computer Science dean. Because of that transparency, there is space to have the necessary conversations on a level playing field, where everyone is on the same page.

Overall, Kuali Research’s reporting tool has been a great addition to Dan’s office.

“It has helped in our discussions in the last year as we are trying to be a more transparent office,” said Perry.

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