Demystifying the Research Enterprise / VPRAD Level 1

VPRAD Level 1 is conceived as a broad overview of the research enterprise at Vanderbilt for staff members who have some experience in their position but need a wider perspective of how everything fits together. Topics include support and compliance in the research enterprise as well as a discussion of both pre- and post-award for grants and contracts.

Since its initial pilot in 2009, 320 staff members have attended VPRAD Level 1 programming and 269 participants have graduated from the program (there are currently 32 participants in pending status).  More than 100 faculty and staff members have served as presenters and mentors – in some cases, as both – in the program.  In addition to the time spent preparing, presenters dedicate more than 120 hours per cohort to delivering their presentations for Level 1 participants; while the participants’ mentors dedicate time and expertise to their mentees’ success in the program.

In a 2011 study of Level 1 outcomes, Donna DePasquale and Gannon reviewed program evaluations and conducted a survey of 126 graduates.  They found that as a result of participating in VPRAD:

100% of participants experienced some degree of increased understanding in each of 18 key curriculum components (increases ranged from 45-75%)
75% said they used their VPRAD notebook as a reference manual
63% reported their participation in the program changed the way they did their job
78% said they had shared information learned in VPRAD with a faculty member
88-95% indicated that they had an improved awareness of compliance issues and that they knew whom to contact for more information

The successful completion of VPRAD Level 1 increases administrators’ awareness of compliance and integrity issues in the research enterprise.  It increases the likelihood that administrators will utilize program resources after the program to inform compliance-minded decision-making in the research enterprise.  VPRAD provides administrators with the confidence to directly engage with faculty over these issues.

In addition to quantitative data, DePasquale and Gannon collected and analyzed qualitative data.   Respondents were overwhelmingly positive about the impact VPRAD has had on their confidence level, their ability to better support faculty and researchers, and their understanding of the research enterprise as a whole.  Many participants have observed the close-knit character of the cohorts and the camaraderie the Level 1 model creates.

In 2012, DePasquale and Gannon presented VPRAD and the findings from their program evaluation at the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity’s conference.  Gannon has also presented VPRAD at both the national and regional conferences of the National Council of University Research Administrators and the American Association of Academic Pediatrics.  DePasquale and Gannon will repeat this study in 2013 to include more recent graduates and also to examine long-term trends among graduates from the first few cohorts.  It is anticipated that the Level 1 program will continue with only minor changes in the future.

Program Components

Components of the VPRAD Level 1 program include:

  • 57 contact hours (including orientation, three modules and a capstone)
  • More than 30 subject-matter experts from across the institution
  • Experiential tours
  • Mentoring experience
  • Networking opportunities
  • Intersession activities
  • Comprehensive exam