Research administration is a risky business. It involves diverse processes requiring careful, even meticulous, management. With any project comes risk, but there are ways to mitigate this risk and improve the chances of success. Let’s explore the best ways to help your research administration team reduce risk, cost, and burnout.
Research administration risks
In research administration, risk is a foundational challenge because research projects can be complex, involve multiple stakeholders, and have significant consequences. These projects also are frequently expensive and require considerable investment, in terms of both time and resources. Consequently, a high degree of risk often comes with this critical work.
Below are some of the major risks in research administration:
- Reputation is a constant challenge in research administration since negative outcomes can damage the reputation of the organization or research institution and hurt future grant or sponsorship opportunities.
- Financial penalties are another major risk, including fines or penalties for noncompliance.
- Funding disallowances can also result from noncompliance or failed research projects, which can have financial consequences for research institutions.
- Research integrity is an essential risk to manage. Process problems can put the validity of research outcomes at risk, compromising the scientific process.
- Harm to research participants is a real and present risk in many types of research and of utmost importance to avoid.
- Burnout can occur among researchers and staff who are responsible for managing research projects, leading to a decrease in productivity and morale.
5 ways to reduce risk
Minimizing risk in research administration is key for the safety, integrity, and validity of the research. Here are five ways to reduce the risk:
- Improve transparency. Improving transparency is crucial to reduce risk in research administration. By providing clear communication channels, research administrators can enable stakeholders to understand their roles and responsibilities, making it easier to identify and address potential risks.
- Be proactive. Proactive risk management can help avoid potential issues before they arise. Organizations should anticipate potential problems, develop contingency plans, and conduct regular reviews of existing policies and procedures.
- Document all aspects of research administration. Documentation provides evidence of compliance and can be used to address any issues.
- Use checklists. Checklists can help guarantee compliance with policies and procedures, reducing the risk of errors or oversights. By using checklists, research administrators can confirm all necessary steps have been taken to mitigate risks and promote success.
- Offer training. By providing training, research administrators can ensure staff are aware of their responsibilities and understand all policies and procedures. This can help prevent errors and minimize the risk of noncompliance.
Examples of how to reduce risk
Cayuse helps research administration teams reduce risk through a comprehensive suite of software tools designed to simplify the sponsored research lifecycle, from proposal preparation to post-award administration. These tools not only can decrease errors and increase efficiency but can also improve compliance. The smart automation platform addresses each area of risk management, enhancing transparency across teams, providing reminders and checklists for compliance, reporting and documenting data without errors, and tracking certifications and training.
According to Lorraine Bell, training program manager at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, “Cayuse has completely enabled us to be ahead of regulatory compliance. We’re proactive instead of reactive.”
The team at LSU Health Shreveport agrees. “Cayuse has really changed our organizational culture — the culture of sharing information and transparency of information,” says Valarie White, director of sponsored programs and technology transfer at LSUHS. “It has helped to break down silos between departments and increased collaboration across departments.”