Find Events Find People Find Jobs Find Sites Find Help Index


March 25, 2002

Commission continues to gather research data

Aimee Pozorski is a graduate assistant in the Office of Strategic Development.


Now well into its second semester, the Commission on Research at Emory not only continues to review the philosophical questions driving its work but also investigates research in practical terms, questioning who gets tenure and why, how departmental cultures might better foster creative work, and how the University’s infrastructure affects research.

With these issues in mind, the committee for defining research has collected brief narratives from chairs on their units’ research cultures. This committee also has completed matrices capturing updated research components in order to compare Emory’s different schools as well as the University’s position among peer institutions.

The committee on cultivating researchers focuses not only on how the University’s research communities develop over time, but also—and perhaps more importantly—how their current status functions within Emory’s research culture as a whole. By focusing on how researchers develop in the present, this committee hopes to promote important recommendations for the future of research at Emory. The committee hopes that a questionnaire it sent to all department chairs will shed some light on these issues.

The committee on infrastructure has summarized and evaluated its findings from the faculty hearings it co-sponsored with the committee on cultivating researchers. This group also is discussing such key issues as “space”—including space to interact with other faculty as well as space to work—and “constraints,” such as varying service obligations across the University. In addition the infrastructure group is analyzing thoroughly the University’s education and research budget.

Finally, the committee on ethics and research held three important meetings this month. In one meeting it talked with representatives from each of the graduate professional schools and the principal departments of both Emory College and Oxford. The committee also met with Jim Keller, current chair of Emory’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), and with Tanya Sudia-Robinson, vice-chair for an IRB committee.

Commission co-chairs Claire Sterk and David Carr said the work of these four sub-committees is both impressive and paced to meet their projected deadlines.


Subcommittee spotlight: infrastructure and ethics
Both the committees on research infrastructure, (co-chaired by Sterk and Lanny Liebeskind) and on research and ethics (co-chaired by Jim Fowler and Arthur Kellermann) are questioning how research issues affect the daily lives of Emory’s faculty.

One key question, according to Liebeskind, is “What are we doing well with respect to research?” In their search for an answer, group members are compiling both anecdotal and quantitative data from the various academic units.

The group has collected statistics on faculty counts, foundation support, research expenditures and Ph.D. programs. Committee members also are interviewing representatives from the Office of Institutional Research, the Office of Sponsored Programs and the Information Technology Division, among others.

The ethics and research committee is focusing on two related questions, the first being the overall impact of research in shaping the University. Serious efforts to expand biological and biomedical research with major new facilities have created disparities in allocation of space and University support. The committee believes development policies that strengthen research in one area need to be balanced with overall concern for the long-term health of research and teaching throughout the University.

The second question concerns how research is conducted in each of Emory’s research cultures. “The ethics committee is looking specifically at the procedures by which we train doctoral candidates across our departments, grounding them in practices of research integrity,” Fowler said. “We discover that many faculty in both the arts and sciences feel that their background and training in the ethics of research were informal and uneven. These findings suggest further strengthening of our programs for faculty as well as graduate students.”