T
he institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of results in the following area: research within its mission, if appropriate.

Compliance Judgment:  In compliance

Narrative

Through ongoing assessment of outcomes of each research unit, documentation of the analysis of assessment results to inform improvements, and institution-wide recognition of improvements through the use of assessment results, East Carolina University (hereafter, ECU, the university, or the institution) is in compliance with outcomes assessment of research within our mission.
This narrative includes sections that describe an ongoing assessment process inclusive of the following areas:

I.                     Research Within ECU’s Mission

II.                  Organizational Approach to Research Assessment

III.                Research Units Assessment Plans and Reports

IV.                Use of Assessment Results for Improvement

V.                  Periodic Reviews

VI.                Assessment Activities of the Division of Research and Graduate Studies

VII.              Research-Intensive Instruction and Degrees

VIII.           Telling Our Research Story


Summary of Evidence

Evidence of compliance is summarized in several tables which are introduced and fully elaborated upon in designated sections in the narrative.

Table 1: Assessment Units and Reports - Research

Table 2: Assessment Methods for Research Units

Table 3: Summary of Use of Results

Table 4: Alignment of Assessment Units to Strategic Directions

Table 5: Stategic Directions Stories – Research Units

I.  Research Within ECU’s Mission

Research is an important dimension of ECU’s mission and is referenced frequently within ECU’s Strategic Directions.   A vision for ECU’s research future is contained in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies’ recent White Paper, ECU’s Response to Our Region’s Grand Challenges, and its Strategic Plan, 2010-13, which is carefully aligned with ECU’s Strategic Action Plan, 2010-13. To summarize, five research-related goals are highlighted within the White Paper and the Strategic Plan: 1) increase research productivity, 2) expand research opportunities for students, 3) expand the application of research and engagement to benefit the region, 4) improve research infrastructure and support services, and 5) address the need for greater diversity.  In addition, seven research foci are established for strategic investments: 1) metabolic disorders, obesity, and diabetes, 2) coastal science and policy with an environmental emphasis, 3) military support including disorders, therapies, and technologies, 4) health disparities and public health, 5) sustainable tourism, 6) distance education research and advanced learning technologies, and 7) bio/medical technologies and processing.

II.
Organizational Approach to Research Assessment

ECU has adopted
a systematic approach to assess research outcomes and to use these assessments to improve the performances of those units that either support research as a significant portion of their stated missions or units which directly engage research as a significant part of their stated missions.  ECU’s Research Workgroup was established in June of 2010 to assist individual units with assessment plan design and implementation, to assemble assessment plans and outcomes, and to evaluate the uses of assessment to improve performance.  The primary mechanism for the Research Workgroup’s assessment activities is with periodic workshops and subsequent digital communication.  Since its creation in 2010, assessment workshops for research units have been conducted on: 08/26/2010, 04/01/2011, 10/13/2011, and 03/16/2012.  While the focus of workshops has varied as the units have matured in their assessment activities, topics include writing assessment plans, effective reporting of results, illustrating the uses of results to improve, and technology demonstrations in using TracDat , the institutional strategic and assessment tracking system.  The Research Workgroup provides group-level and unit-level feedback on assessment activities using a standardized Rubric to Evaluate Research Unit Assessment Reports.  For example, all assessment reports were blind reviewed in September of 2011 in preparation for the workshop on 10/13/2011.  At that workshop, each unit received written commentary on its assessment report and these were aggregated in graphical form in a Summary of Reviewer Recommendations to illustrate ways to use the data to improve our assessment processes. 

The Research Workgroup reports on its assessment activities
through the Institutional Effectiveness Council to the Compliance Certification Council.  The Research Workgroup is purposely comprised of wide-ranging representation from varied campus units including those that support or engage research.  ECU assesses performance, develops metrics, establishes standards, and reviews activities for improving performance and service within research units.

III. Research Units' Assessment Plans and Reports

The Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies and the Research Workgroup originally identified 26 research units that either formally support ECU’s research enterprise (e.g., Office of Sponsored Programs, Office of Grants and Contracts) or directly engage in research activities (e.g., Institute for Coastal Science and Public Policy, Center for Health Disparities Research) as parts of their units’ missions.  The North Carolina Coastal Studies Institute was removed from ECU’s inventory of assessment units in the spring of 2012 as a result of a UNC system presidential mandate, described in a letter from UNC System President, Thomas Ross . The inventory of these current 25 research units and their assessment plans for 2010-11 and 2011-12 are provided in Table 1: Assessment Units and Reports - Research .  The current (June 2012) Assessment Audit Report for all research units reveals a strong commitment to assessment that is on-going and broad-based across the full domain of the University’s research enterprise.  The audit indicates that 100% of research units (25 of 25) possess assessment plans involving 82 outcomes and 151 assessment methods. Assessment methods used by individual units to measure performance vary considerably. Units that support research, e.g. pre-award services (Office of Sponsored Programs) and post-award services (Office of Grants and Contracts) inventory their turnaround times and conduct client surveys. Several of the methods are imbedded within the university system of accounting and regulation, e.g. UNC Finance Improvement and Transformation. In still other cases, inventories that are mandated by and reported to accrediting agencies, (e.g. Institutional Animal Care and the USDA) are employed as assessment methods. Units that conduct research (e.g., Institute for Coastal Science and Policy or East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute) frequently inventory measures of dissemination (publications), support (external funding), and impact (citations) of affiliated faculty.  These approaches, in the collective, illustrate a broad range of assessment methods as illustrated in Table 2: Assessment Methods for Research Units. The audit further indicates research units reported 311 measurement results and 317  actions taken to improve the research enterprise at ECU.

IV. Use of Assessment Results for Improvements

While the full inventory of assessment plans (including results and actions) are contained in Table 1, select examples highlighting the variety and creativity employed in the use of results to improve research at ECU are summarized in Table 3: Summary of Use of Results for Research Assessment Units. These examples come from the two broad based categories of assessment units, those that support research and those the conduct research. In addition, the chosen examples span the divisional structure of our university (Academic Affairs, Health Sciences, and Research and Graduate Studies). They range from implementation of new policies and procedures to revision of old ones.  Others focus on new types of services or requests for additional resources. 

V. Periodic Reviews

Periodic review of research centers and institutes is mandated by ECU’s Centers and Institutes policy governing the establishment and continuation of these research units. To date, the committee has reviewed and made recommendations for all new centers and institutes. In addition, the committee considers requests for changes (e.g., name change or reporting structure change). Those centers and institutes located within the Division of Research and Graduate Studies submit an annual report that forms the basis of an annual review by the Vice Chancellor for the Division.  In addition, external review has been conducted for the largest of these entities (Institute for Coastal Science and Policy) and several related centers (e.g., RENCI@ECU and the Center for Sustainable Tourism).  In this particular review Dr. Susan Avery, President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, provided valuable feedback on the performance and organization of ECU’s coastal studies capacity. Reviews of centers and institutes outside of the Division occur on an ad hoc basis within the appropriate college.

VI. Assessment Activities of the Division of Research and Graduate Studies

In addition to assessment activities among the individual research units, the Division of Research and Graduate Studies (RGS) aggregates assessment data from all campus sources to monitor the institution’s general research performance and to design approaches for research improvements.  The Division is committed to assisting in the growth and development of the University’s research enterprise.  That growth and development is revealed in
RGS annual reports published at the end of each fiscal year: 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09, 2009/10 and 2010/11. Trend data compiled from these individual annual reports serve to illustrate the progress of our enterprise.  For example, implementation of a systematic process for awarding research start-up requests and initiation of a competitive internal seed grant program correspond with an impressive expansion in the value of external funding from $33.1 million in 2004/05 to $48.6 million in 2009/10.  This represents an expansion of nearly 50 percent in just six years, a vigorous annual growth rate of nearly eight percent. 

Much of the research conducted on our campus resides outside of the research units included and assessed here.  Faculty and students across Health Sciences and Academic Affairs are engaged in the research enterprise at ECU within their departments.  Scholarship activities of all variety accelerated with the number of refereed articles authored at ECU increasing by 27% in just two years (2007/08-2009/10) and books/book chapters increasing by 56% in the same two year interval.  While the Divisional Annual Reports from Research and Graduate Studies contain much of the aggregate data, greater detail can be found in college-level reports, assembled in the ECU 2011-2012 Unit Annual Progress Report.  The full breadth and on-going nature of research activity at ECU is referenced in in this detailed document.   

A good example of the Division’s use of assessment data to address a pressing campus issue is highlighted via Goal IV.c of the Strategic Plan: “Provide more physical space for ECU’s Basic and Translational Research Enterprise.”  Within this goal, one objective is to analyze existing research space utilization and productivity.  This has involved a labor intensive audit of assigned research space (at the individual level) and then a merger of these space data to external awards formally logged by individual Principal Investigators with the Office of Sponsored Programs.  The type of space productivity analysis facilitated by these data collection activities is illustrated in the attached Individual Lab Space and Productivity graphics.  Based on these data, the Office of Space Planning and the University Space Planning Committee are now developing an Allocation of Research Space regulation. This type of activity is intended to optimize the use of ECU’s available research space. 

VII. Research-Intensive Instruction and Degrees

Research is a very important part of ECU's instructional mission.  At the undergraduate level, these efforts are organized and stimulated in the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) which is housed in the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.  Some of the aggregate measures are contained within the assessment report for OURThe Office of Undergraduate Research provides undergraduate research and creative activity awards (URCA) on a competitive basis and supports student research travel.  Undergraduate (and graduate) research accomplishments are highlighted each year during ECU’s Research and Creative Achievement Week (RCAW) activities.  ECU hosted North Carolina’s Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium (SNCURCS) in November of 2011.

At the graduate level, there is a strong research expectation among many of ECU’s degree programs, especially among those programs that provide a thesis or dissertation option as part of degree requirements.  Much of the detail concerning the research intensity and quality of ECU’s graduate programming is summarized in the content associated with SACS 3.6.2: Graduate CurriculumThere it is clearly illustrated that the institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure students’ engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences.  A cogent review of related literature is a fundamental element to all theses and dissertations.  A comprehensive exposition and analysis of pertinent published research validates the project’s hypotheses and methods.  In particular, SACS 3.6.2: Graduate Curriculum illustrates the graduate programs with research expectations and quality of graduate programming at ECU.  As is the case with undergraduate research and creativity, graduate research activities are highlighted at ECU during RCAW.  In addition, ECU Academic Library Services provides preservation and access to published student scholarly work at The Scholarship portal.

VIII. Telling Our Research Story

ECU’s research story is documented and highlighted for internal and external partners with the annual publication of Edge magazine, which has been produced continuously since 1998.  The Division also publishes a newsletter, Exploration and Discovery, to keep campus scholars well informed of accomplishments and opportunities.  ECU’s research units are highly aligned with the University’s Strategic Plan and the Five Strategic Directions referenced earlier as illustrated in Table 4: Alignment of Assessment Units to Strategic Directions.  In order to better highlight the connectivity of ECU’s research enterprise with its Strategic Directions, the following table of examples is provided.

Table 5: Strategic Directions Stories – Research Units

Research Unit

Story Title and Link

Education for a New Century

DRGS - Office of Undergraduate Studies

Early Exposure. High School Students Explore STEM Majors at ECU

DRGS - Institute for Coastal Science and Policy

Changing Tides. Although We Cannot Control the Oceans ICSP is Working to Better Understand the Relationship Between Land and Sea

The Leadership University

DHS - East Carolina Heart Institute

Chitwood Receives Pair of Recognitions

DRGS - Institute for Coastal Science and Policy

Symposium to Honor Retiring Distinguished Biology Professors

Economic Prosperity in the East

DRGS - Office of Engagement, Innovation & Economic Development

ECU Partnership Stimulates Economic Development Across the Region

DRGS - NC Center for Sustainable Tourism

ECU Establishes the First MS in Sustainable Tourism Degree in the Nation

Health, Health Care & Medical Innovation

DRGS - NC Agromedicine Institute

Beyond the Fields. The NCAI at ECU is Keeping Not Only Farmers Safe and Healthy, But Our State's Fishers and Foresters as Well.

DHS - East Carolina Heart Institute

Game-Changing Technology. Aortic Valve Procedure Proves Successful for High-Risk Patients

 

 Documentation

Reference Title

Location

Allocation of Research Space

Res Space REG

Assessment Audit Report

Audit Research June 2012

Assessment Report for OUR (Office of Undergraduate Research)

OUR Assessment Report

Beyond the Fields. The NCAI at ECU is Keeping Not Only Farmers Safe and Healthy, But Our State’s Fishers and Foresters as Well

Beyond the Fields Agromedicine 1-24-11

Centers and Institutes Policy

Executive-Audit Comm  2-24-06

Changing Tides. Although We Cannot Control the Oceans ICSP is Working to Better Understand the Relationship Between Land and Sea

Changing Tides 1-5-11

Chitwood Receives Pair of Recognitions

Chitwood Recognition 4-26-12

Dr. Susan Avery, President and Director of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute

ICSP_REVIEW_AVERY_2012

Early Exposure. High School Students Explore STEM Majors at ECU

High school students explore STEM 4-20-12

ECU 2011-2012 Unit Annual Progress Report

2011-2012 Annual Report Summary -Research (2)

ECU Establishes the First MS in Sustainable Tourism Degree in the Nation

First MS in Sustainable Tourism Degree 1-13-11

ECU Partnership Stimulates Economic Development Across the Region

Stimulate Economic Development 10-4-11

ECU’s Strategic Action Plan, 2010-13

ECU Strategic Action Plan 2010-13

ECU’s Response to Our Region’s Grand Challenges (RGS White Paper)

ECU RGS Whitepaper

ECU’s Strategic Directions

ECU Tomorrow and Research

Edge Magazine

Edge Magazine

Exploration & Discovery

Exploration and Discovery

Game-Changing Technology. Aortic Valve Procedure Proves Successful for High-Risk Patients

Aortic Valve 4-26-12

Individual Lab Space and Productivity Graphics

Research Space Productivity

Letter from UNC System President, Thomas Ross

Ross Visit Letter March 9 2012

North Carolina’s Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium

State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium

Office of Space Planning

IPAR - Space Planning

Office of Undergraduate Research

The Office of Undergraduate Research

Research and Creative Achievement Week

Research and Creative Achievement Week_Creating a Better Tomorrow

Research Workgroup

Research Workgroup

RGS Annual Report, 2006-07

ECU RGS Annual Report 2006-07

RGS Annual Report, 2007-08

ECU RGS Annual Report 2007-08

RGS Annual Report, 2008-09

ECU RGS Annual Report 2008-09

RGS Annual Report, 2009-10

ECU RGS Annual Report 2009-10

RGS Annual Report, 2010-11

ECU RGS Annual Report 2010-11

Rubric to Evaluate Research Unit Assessment Reports

Research Assess Rubric

SACS 3.6.2: Graduate Curriculum

Evidence of Graduate Student Research Involvement

Strategic Plan 2010-13, Division of Research and Graduate Studies

ECU RGS Strategic Plan 2010-13

Summary of Reviewer Recommendations

Assess Review Summary

Symposium to Honor Retiring Distinguished Biology Professors

Distinguished biology professors 4-26-12

Table 1: Assessment Units and Reports - Research

Assessment Units Research

Table 2: Assessment Methods for Research Units

Assessment Methods Research April 26 2012

Table 3: Summary of Use of Results for Research Assessment Units

Summary of Use of Results Research Assessment Units

Table 4: Alignment of Assessment Units to Strategic Directions

Alignment of Assessment Units to  Strategic Directions - Research

The Scholarship

The ScholarShip at ECU

Trend Data

ECU Funded Research Growth