Research compliance crucial with growing interest in university research

Central Michigan University officials consider research a growing priority despite faculty members' perceived lack of research focus.

In June 2013, HRP Consulting Inc. released a report to the university, outlining its concerns and recommendations for CMU’s human research protection program.

Through questioning faculty and staff, the consultants grew concerned that research has taken a backseat at CMU.

“Based on interviews with stakeholders throughout CMU, there appears to be a pervasive perception that CMU does not value research or the importance of the (human research protection program),” according to the report.

While Vice President of Research John McGrath released a report earlier this month showing progress in all 10 recommended areas, CMU's research program is still working toward compliance with government regulations.

Problems with CMU’s research program are more than 20 years old, said Institutional Review Board Chairman Richard Backs.

Provost Michael Gealt said he is focused on the future.

“I don’t know what happened in the past and, to a certain extent, it’s irrelevant,” he said. “I know where we are now and where we have to be."

CMU ranks No. 244 as a research university in Forbes’ most recent list of top colleges in the nation. It sits behind most Michigan universities, including Michigan (No. 20), Michigan State (No. 79), Michigan Tech (No. 137), Oakland University (No. 218) and Western Michigan (No. 232). Grand Valley, Saginaw Valley and Eastern Michigan were not ranked.

In relation to similar sized schools across the Mid-American Conference, CMU sits behind Miami (No. 80), Ohio (No. 149), Ball State (No. 220), Northern Illinois (No. 222), Bowling Green (No. 231), Akron (No. 233) and Toledo (No. 237).

CMU is one spot ahead of Kent State (No. 245).

The scope of research is continuing to change at CMU as personnel grow more research-minded.

“The faculty we’re hiring are more interested in research. Professional accreditation agencies are evaluating our faculty on their scholarly output, so there’s a lot of pressure on us to increase our scholarly output,” Gealt said.

With higher education funding support from Lansing declining over the past decade, Backs said increased research has helped schools across the nation bring in more money.

"Most institutions are trying to do that. CMU is not unique in that respect, but we’re starting from a very low baseline,” Backs said. “Research has never been as much of a priority at CMU as it is now, so the infrastructure was never developed to the extent that it really needs to be.

"It can’t bear the demands of the increases in research that are the result of the new faculty that we’re hiring or the new initiatives that we’re doing.”


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