A laptop and a piece of paper on a table.

Miami transitions to online annual status reports for human subjects research

Screenshot of human subjects research online annual status report system. Text: Miami University. Human Subjects Research - Annual status report. This form is used to indicate a previously approved Level 2 (IRB) project is continuing, all personnel are appropriately trained and monitored, and data is secured. A link to this form is sent annually to the Primary Contact (PC) and Faculty Advisor (FA) (if a student project). Responses to the questions below are required and will indicate how records will be maintained. Submission of this form also serves as an assurance by the PC and FA that all personnel have completed the training and are competent given their assigned roles.
Annual status reports for human subjects research can now be submitted through an online system.

Due to changes in regulations for human subjects protections and Miami policy regarding what is commonly known as “Continuing Review,” Miami is transitioning to an online annual status report system. Approval will no longer lapse, and protocols will not be automatically closed unless no response is received to two annual requests for a report. Approval letters will no longer include expiration dates. However, the approval letters will include the date the next annual status report is due. It would be wise to have a personnel roster updated and available before beginning the online form. We will be transitioning next year to a system whereby all annual reports are requested and submitted during the summer break.

As has been the practice in the past, the Research Ethics and Integrity program will still accept the annual report Word template submitted by email attachment to humansubjects@miamioh.edu during this transition phase.

Laptop photo by Pixel.la Free Stock Photos via Wikimedia Commons, used under Creative Commons license.

Large stack of paper

NIH to transition to Forms-F grant application forms and instructions

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will require applicants to use a new set of forms and instructions for proposals due on or after May 25, 2020. The changes appear to be very minor. The most substantive change, in PHS Human Subjects and Clinical Trials Information, involves the separation of the current “Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children” attachment into two attachments: “Inclusion of Individuals Across the Lifespan” and “Inclusion of Women and Minorities.” Miami’s grants.gov interface, Cayuse 424, will automatically update to the new forms for applications with due dates after May 25, 2020. While we expect that many applicants won’t even notice the changes, Research & Sponsored Programs staff will be available to answer any questions that arise.

Written by Amy Hurley Cooper, Assistant Director of Proposal Development, Research & Sponsored Programs, Miami University.

Paper stack image by Egle_pe via Needpix.com. “Coming soon” image by Mian Shahzad Raza via Pixabay. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Border collie running across grass

This Halloween, I’m dressing up as a border collie

Border collie herding sheep

I’m not one of those people who love Halloween, so I’m probably not really going to don a costume today. But if I were to dress up as a border collie, my experience as a research administrator would help me embody the character. How are research administrators (RAs) similar to border collies? Read on to find out.


Border collies are perhaps best known for their ability to keep a flock together and moving in the same direction. Much like border collies, research administrators help keep their communities moving toward strategic goals established by their institutions’ leadership. We develop policies and procedures that guide researchers in certain directions, we create checklists that keep faculty headed in the right direction with proposal submissions, and we design programs and incentives that encourage the pursuit of certain paths.


Border collies help keep their flocks safe from predators. Safety is also an essential function for research administrators. The policies and procedures we develop and enforce are created, in part, to protect our researchers and institutions from outside forces that could harm them. Our guidance documents and decision trees help investigators make informed decisions about things that impact their research. We work to ensure no one is caught unawares by disadvantageous sponsor terms or becomes subject to legal action as a result of inadvertently violating federal and state law. Those of us in research compliance protect the human and animal subjects that are part of our research communities by seeing that relevant federal guidelines are followed. Contract negotiators strategize to balance the interests of the investigator with those of the institution to arrive at an optimal final agreement.


Sheep may give more thought to the border collie’s potential to nip at their heels than they do to her potential to herd them to new grazing grounds, but that’s another essential function for these dogs. A flock that keeps grazing the same depleted pasture will not be nearly as robust as one that has access to fresh forage. The same is true for research, and RAs pave the way for new opportunities. Investigators often see ours as the office of “no,” but the truth is that RAs find creative ways to make “yes”s happen. Without the financial management expertise of post-award staff, far fewer sponsors would be willing to award funds in support of the research at our institutions. Without the keen eyes of pre-award staff, far more proposals would be returned without review for non-compliance. Without those who manage research compliance and review protocols, fewer studies would meet the ethical requirements of sponsors. And, of course, without the dedication and determination of research development staff, our institutions’ investigators would have access to – and be competitive for – far fewer opportunities.


With a border collie on the job, no sheep is ever left behind. The dog helps keep the flock intact by spurring on stragglers and rounding up those who have become lost. RAs also spur on stragglers. We search for those who are lost, reaching out to check on investigators we haven’t heard from in a while. We encourage those who got disappointing reviewer comments to take those comments to heart, tweak the proposal, and resubmit. Finally, we work to remove barriers for those who might not be submitting proposals at all.


Border collies use their experience and intuition to determine when one of their flock has crossed an unseen boundary and to recognize where their pasture ends and the next begins. Likewise, research administrators – whose unofficial motto is “it depends” – are relied upon to know where the boundaries are. Where does funding cross the line from gift to grant? When does one use a vendor vs. issuing a subaward agreement? What, exactly, are the allowable and allocable expenses that can be included in a budget?

Although border collies have a natural instinct for herding, it often takes a lot of time and effort to develop a dog’s skills so that she becomes a true partner. Likewise, research administrators devote a lot of time and effort to developing our skills. We are always thinking, learning, and growing so that we can own our place as true partners to our investigators and our institutions. Without us, the research enterprise would be more chaotic and less productive.

Adapted from “Research Without Border Collies,” written by Heather Beattey Johnston and Robyn Remotigue and appearing in the Oct./Nov. 2019 issue of NCURA Magazine.

Running border collie photo via Pixabay. Shepherding photo by SheltieBoy via Flickr. Both used under Creative Commons license.

Four people, each holding an oversized puzzle piece, fit the pieces together.

Get to know Grants and Contracts staff on National Research Administrator Day

September 25, 2019 marks the fifth annual National Research Administrator Day. Last year, we began a tradition of commemorating the event by profiling staff in various research administration units at Miami University. This year, we introduce you to the team in Grants & Contracts, who set up and manage financial aspects of awards made to the university. They have 55 years’ of research administration experience at Miami between them! (To learn more about the research administration profession, check out this post from our archive, by former OARS team member Tricia Callahan.)

Cindy Green

Cindy Green, Senior Staff Accountant

How long have you been a research administrator?
September marks my 18th anniversary in the Grants & Contracts office.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Can be challenging at times

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Different agencies have different policies that must be followed.  We are always busy trying to keep people compliant with their particular grant guidelines, especially knowing that federal, state or agency audits are always a possibility.

What is your research administrator superpower?
My superpower is helping others follow and adhere to agency guidelines.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
I would like to be a travel agent.

Portrait of Kathy Kihm in her office
Kathy Kihm

Kathy Kihm, Staff Accountant II

How long have you been a research administrator?
I have worked in the Grants & Contracts office for five years.

Describe your job in five words or less.
More than a number cruncher

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
Awards are like individuals; no two alike. Awards may have the same funding agency, yet still have varying contractual obligations. Each one must be handled on an individual basis. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another.

What is your research administrator superpower?
My superpower is an innate willingness to help others. Accounting isn’t in the wheelhouse of most of our PI’s, so to be able to assist them with that aspect of their awards benefits all.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
I would probably be either a docent or a tour guide. It would be fun to share knowledge as well as learn from others. Plus I would probably be in an interesting place amidst people who are vacationing and happy and uplifting!

Linda Manley

Linda Manley, Assistant Controller

How long have you been a research administrator?
This past July marked my 20 years here at Miami in the Grants and Contracts Office.

Describe your job in five words or less.
It is demanding at times

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
We have all types of funding sources; federal, state, private and local, and they each have their own set of rules. The Grants and Contracts Office’s main responsibility is financial compliance. When we ask questions related to your grant expenses we are trying to ensure that we keep Miami out of any audit comments or findings.

What is your research administrator superpower?
Being able to resolve grant issues/problems when they occur.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
I always wanted to be an airline stewardess.

Paula Murray

Paula Murray, Staff Accountant II

How long have you been a research administrator?
I have been a research administrator for 12 of my 19 years with Miami.

Describe your job in five words or less.
Every day brings new adventures!

What’s something that seems obvious to research administrators, but is often misunderstood by other people?
All external funding comes with different expectations of its application. Our job is to be able to validate Miami utilized those funds as expected of us.

What is your research administrator superpower?
My superpower is to lead PI’s through the federal effort certification process.

If you weren’t a research administrator what job would you have?
You would find me as a Fairy Godmother at the Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

Puzzle piece photo public domain via Max Pixel. Photos of Grants & Contracts staff by Paula Murray, Grants & Contracts Office, Miami University.

A collection of chicken eggs, each stamped with an identifier

ORCID identifiers help researchers distinguish themselves

Screen shot of ORCID homepage. Text: ORCID. Connecting Research and Researchers. (Tabs:) For Researchers, For Organizations, About, Help, Sign In. (Main text:) Distinguish yourself in three easy steps. ORCID provides persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized. Find out more. 1. Register. Get your unique ORCID identifier Register now! Registration takes 30 seconds. 2. Add your info. Enhance your ORCID record with your professional information and link to your other identifiers (such as Scopus or ResearcherID or LinkedIn). 3. Use your ORCID ID. Include your ORCID identifier on your Webpage, when you submit publications, apply for grants, and in any research workflow to ensure you get credit for your work. Members make ORCID Possible! ORCID is a non-profit organization supported by a global community of organizational members, including research organizations, publishers, funders, professional associations, and other stakeholders in the research ecosystem. Curious about who our members are? See our complete list of member organizations. (Sidebar:) Latest News. Fri, 2016-09-23 Peer Review Week - The Video! Thu, 2016-09-22. #RecognitionReview with ORCID. Tue, 2016-0-20 Recognition for Review: Who's Doing What? Mon, 2016-09-12. Meet the Lens: Integrating ORCID IDs into patents. Mon, 2016-08-29. PIDapalooza - What, Why, When, Who? More news.
ORCID is an organization that assigns researchers unique identifiers.

You may recall a 2015 paper on the Higgs boson published in Physical Review Letters that boasted a record-breaking 5,154 authors. Twenty-three of those authors had the last name Wang, two each with the first initials C, F, H, and Q, and four with the first initial J.

What this example of “hyperauthorship” make clear is that there can be multiple researchers with similar, if not identical, names in the same field. That can make things difficult for researchers, funders, and publishers alike.

To help resolve this issue, a number of organizations have begun issuing unique identifiers researchers can use to distinguish themselves from others with the same or similar names, thereby protecting their scholarly identities.

One of the most popular of these organizations is ORCID. ORCID is a non-profit organization supported by research organizations, publishers, funders, and professional associations. Its iD is  “a persistent digital identifier that distinguishes you from every other researcher and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between you and your professional activities ensuring that your work is recognized.”

Specifically related to grant submission, ORCID integrates with SciENcv to make creating NIH and NSF biosketches easier. In addition, NIH will soon begin requiring ORCID iDs for anyone supported by NIH research training, fellowship, research education, and career development awards.

Signing up for you own ORCID identifier is easy — registration takes 30 seconds. Once you’re registered you can add professional information to your ORCID record.

Written by Heather Beattey Johnston, Associate Director of Research Communications, Office for the Advancement of Research and Scholarship, Miami University.

Egg identification Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito via Pixabay.

Decorative image

Everyday eSPA: Asking OARS to review before submitting for routing

Closeup of a computer keyboard and mouse, with a corner of a monitor visible. A users hand -- holding a pen -- is poised on the mouse.

“Everyday eSPA” is series of occasional posts that offer Miami University researchers quick tips for working effectively in eSPA.

Once you have completed the required information on all screens in your eSPA record, you will see green check marks next to every entry in the “Item List” on the lefthand side of the record screen.

At this point, the Submit for Routing button below the “Item List” will become active and clickable. (Note that the “Submission Notes” screen is optional, so it does not need to be completed, nor does it need to be accompanied by a green check mark in the “Item List” for the Submit for Routing button to become clickable, as shown in the screeenshot below.)

Screenshot of a record in Cayuse SP. All of the items in the "Item List" have green check marks beside them. Those checkmarks are highlighted, as is the "Submit for Routing" button below the Item List.

Before you click that Submit for Routing button, however, you should ask your OARS proposal facilitator to review your record for accuracy and completeness. The reason is that any changes made to the proposal after you click the Submit for Routing button will cause the proposal to have to be re-routed. Reviewing the same proposal multiple times can be confusing and time-consuming for chairs, directors, and deans.

If you send an email to your OARS proposal facilitator asking her to review your proposal record before you hit the “Submit for Routing” button, she can check for common errors, including incorrectly calculated sponsored effort percent, missing credit allocation, home departments incorrectly designated as affiliated units, and project names that don’t follow conventions. These errors can then be corrected before the proposal is routed, ensuring that the proposal your chair, dean, and other administrators review is accurate and complete and that re-review is rarely required.

For more help with eSPA, check out other posts in our “Everyday eSPA” series, consult our quick start guide, or contact your OARS proposal facilitator.

“Everyday eSPA” series posts:

Digital image by roaded via Pixabay. Keyboard and mouse photo by Vojtech Okenka. Both public domain.