Faculty research is moving a few paces faster these days at West Virginia University, thanks to a new system that saves researchers time, trees and headaches.
It also connects the University with other high-powered research institutions in building an industry standard, and – as WVU is the first to offer institutional review board service on the system – puts the University in the forefront of the effort.
All that, and it saves money too.
The Office of Research Integrity and Compliance has just rolled out the first release of an electronic research administration system for the submission of institutional review board documents. For researchers, this means the institutional review board process is accessible through a few keystrokes and clicks. The old system, called BRAAN2, will be retired and used for data storage.
This is just part of a larger initiative to streamline research administration tasks into an integrated web-based application for the WVU community.
The application, called WVU Kuali Coeus, is being developed for award notifications, proposal submissions, administration of awards, human and animal research compliance, conflict of interest and a variety of other research administration tasks. It will replace existing paper and legacy applications and be fully customizable for future research needs.
When Daniel Vasgird joined WVU in 2009 as director of the Office of Research Integrity and Compliance, there had already been talk of replacing the antiquated paper systems. Vasgird's arrival helped speed up that process. He had come from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which had a similar electronic system already in place.
"The paper process is very labor intensive and the current electronic programs being used cannot converse with each other," Vasgird said.
For example, the BRAAN2 program does not communicate with other research software programs used by the University. Access to an institutional review board protocol may be useful for a researcher working with the Office of Sponsored Programs to apply for grants or other services, but the old systems limited that interaction.
WVU Kuali Coeus will not only eliminate tedious paperwork, but it will serve as a one-stop shop for researchers.
Vasgird and David Dufalla, director of WVU's Research Office of Information Technology, knew about an open-source electronic research administration system called Kuali, which is just one of a number of systems tied together through the Kuali Foundation, a consortium of universities and colleges partnering to further develop the system.
WVU joined other top research universities such as Cornell University, University of California San Diego and Johns Hopkins University as a Kuali Coeus Consortium partner in April 2011. The Kuali consortium presently has more than 50 members.
"This partnership allows us to work with other universities on an integrated system that is becoming the industry standard," Vasgird said.
As a partner in the Kuali Coeus project, WVU will contribute functional and technical resources as well as staff to develop research administration modules that will be used by the entire Kuali community.
The project's aim is to build a comprehensive system that manages the complexities of research administration by addressing the needs of faculty researchers, grants administrators and federal funding agencies.
The partnership also saves the University money.
"Individual commercial software programs can cost anywhere between $100,000 and $1 million," Dufalla said. "On top of those costs come yearly support fees. Through our partnership with the Kuali Community, we are able to reduce expenses and customize the system to meet the specific research needs at WVU."
Dufalla noted that WVU is the first university to offer the institutional review board service on Kuali Coeus.
"We've blazed that ground and are helping other partner universities adopt the module," he said.
There's more to come with WVU Kuali Coeus. Upcoming phases of implementation will include award initiation and pre-award for the Office of Sponsored Programs.
President Jim Clements noted in his 2009 State of the University address the importance this new electronic system.
"With these three steps," Clements said, "we should have some of the primary structures in place to better support our faculty researchers, freeing them to focus on the actual scholarship of their work instead of administrative tasks."
For more information on WVU Kuali Coeus, go to http://kuali.wvu.edu/.