Improving Efficiencies: Assessing the Sponsored Research Operation

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In today’s research environment there is heightened attention on reducing administrative burden and maintaining compliance by both increasing capacity and effectiveness of an institution’s sponsored research operation. This publication explores a number of approaches to conducting assessments and presents models for and considerations when incorporating these activities as a standard management practices. It describes and reviews various assessment mechanisms and ways to use them effectively. Many forms of assessment are possible with a modest investment of resources. It also provides a toolkit of assessment materials that are adaptable to a variety of sponsored programs operations.

(63 pages, PDF)

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1   What Is Assessment?

      Why Consider an Assessment Program?

      What is an Assessment Program?

      Designing an Assessment Program                                             

Chapter 2   Preparing for Assessment

      Office Structure



      The Assessment Program

      Background Materials                                                                 

Chapter 3   Forms of Assessment

      Self-Directed Assessment Activities

      Externally Directed Assessment Activities                                     

Chapter 4   Using Focus Groups for Assessment                                                  

Chapter 5   Using Surveys for Assessment                                                           

Chapter 6   Using Metrics for Assessment                                                            

Chapter 7   Using Self-Audits for Assessment                                                       

Chapter 8   Using Self-Studies for Assessment


      Staff Roles

      Focus and Content                                                                      

Chapter 9   Using External Evaluations for Assessment

      Setting Up the External Evaluation

      Organizing for and Conducting the Evaluation

      Evaluation Results

           Recommendations and Developing Action Plans               

Chapter 10   Using Quality Improvement Programs for Assessment                       

Chapter 11   Responding to Assessment Results

      Developing an Assessment-Management Cycle

      Strategic Planning                                                                        

 Chapter 12   Conclusion


Peggy Lowry, Emeritus Director, NCURA Peer Programs
Director, Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Compliance, Oregon State University, Emeritus

Peggy Lowry has been a team member or lead on almost 50 reviews of research administration offices, received evaluations of her offices, and taught national workshops on sponsored program assessment. She has led office self-studies and participated in institutional accreditation self-studies. Her university career includes 34 years at research universities and 7 years at predominantly undergraduate institutions. Peggy has given over 300 national, regional and local presentations and workshops for multiple organizations.

Peggy received NCURA’s Distinguished Service Award in 2006 and NCURA’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research Administration in 2011. She began developing the NCURA Peer Programs (Peer Advisory Services and Peer Review Program) in 2007 and served as Director until her retirement in 2018.