In February, OARS launched a survey to gather input from the Miami University research community about professional development opportunities. We want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated. We also want to let you know what we heard and some of what we’re planning in response.
Seventy-four percent of the 83 respondents indicated they are or might be interested in professional development related to proposal writing. The strongest interest, as shown in the chart below, was in feedback from peers and experts on specific sections of a proposal.
Breaking things down further, 30% of “yes” and “maybe” respondents expressed interest in the NSF broader impacts section and 24% expressed interest in the NIH specific aims section and budget justifications, respectively.
In addition, 64% of respondents indicated they are or might be interested in OARS’ traditional proposal writing workshop, which meets for 90 minutes each week for six weeks. For those respondents, the Summer 2018 term was preferred over Fall 2018 (58% vs. 32%).
NSF broader impacts – OARS will offer a session led by a member of the National Alliance for Broader Impacts, if not this semester, then in the fall.
NIH specific aims – We’ll be inviting an expert to conduct a session within the next year.
Proposal writing workshop – OARS will offer a summer session of the traditional proposal writing workshop, with an emphasis on peer and expert feedback.
As for other topics, respondents seem most interested in:
- Specific funding agencies (47% said “yes” and 32% said “maybe”)
- How to talk to a program officer (43% said “yes” and 26% said “maybe”)
- The review process (35% said “yes” and 35% said “maybe”)
NSF, foundations, and NIH were the agencies of greatest interest. In the “other” category, write-in candidates included the Department of Energy (5); and various defense agencies (13).
Less than half the respondents said they are or might be interested in professional development related to early career programs, applying for NSF supplements, and eSPA/Cayuse.
NSF – To address both the interest in NSF as a funding agency and the desire for more information about how to talk with a program officer, we will host a session led by Miami faculty who have served as NSF program officers.
eSPA/Cayuse – We will continue to offer eSPA/Cayuse training to accommodate new faculty and staff, but will likely keep it to just once each semester.
Early career faculty – We assume that at least part of the lack of interest in early career programs owes to fewer early career faculty participating in the survey (if for no other reason than that there are just fewer of them on campus!). So we will continue hosting a series of breakfasts for new faculty. These get-to-know you events help us learn more about new faculty members’ work and about how we can best support them in securing external funding. Limited space is available for faculty who started at Miami in 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 to have breakfast with us on one of the following dates (contact me at standeae@MiamiOH.edu for more information or to RSVP):
- Wednesday, April 11, 8-9am in Oxford
- Thursday, April 26, 8-9am in Middletown*
- Friday, May 4, 8-9am in Oxford
- Monday, May 7, 8-9am in Oxford
*We plan to host a breakfast in Hamilton during fall semester.
We asked about interest in three types of general professional development:
- Brown bag/drop-in, “ask-me-anything” sessions with OARS staff
- Interdisciplinary round tables
- Networking for specific interdisciplinary programs
We were a little surprised to find an apparent lack of interest in interdisciplinary round tables, as we have had good showings at past events of this type. When given an opportunity to provide open-ended comments, one respondent said they miss frequent, informal gatherings to discuss research, like there used to be in the “old days,” as opposed to formal interdisciplinary round tables or “speed dating” events. While we don’t have a detailed understanding of this response (few of us were around in the “old days!”), the spirit of it struck a chord with us, and we suspect it captures the sentiment of some of the respondents who said “no” to interdisciplinary round tables.
For the other two types of events, there were a significant number of “maybe” responses, as show in the chart below.
It’s possible that this uncertainty stems from unfamiliarity with the format types. It’s fair to say that you don’t know whether you’d want to participate if you don’t know what to expect.
Brown bag sessions – We will initiate a brown bag lunch series, where OARS staff will be on hand to answer ask-me-anything-type questions. We will also incorporate some themes into these sessions, to encourage like-minded faculty to come together and build collaborations. Occasionally, a session may focus on a specific upcoming funding opportunity.
Just the beginning
The plans we’ve listed here are not the end. Rather, they represent a portion of what we’ve planned in response input from you — the Miami research community. Be on the lookout for more information about the opportunities mentioned here, as well as others. And if you have any suggestions for brown bag series topics (or any other professional development!), send them to me at standeae@MiamiOH.edu.
Written by Amy Hurley Cooper, Assistant Director of Proposal Development, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.