Faculty research, funding follows long road

By Stephanie Bradley and Katrina Kelly

A faculty member who wants to do research and get funding for it must follow a long road before the research and consequent book or article is completed.

Linda Schwarz, director of NIU’s Office of Sponsored Projects, said a professor who wants to research a subject and have his work published must find out which funding agencies support the type of project he wishes to do. Schwarz said her office finds out the rules and criteria that professors must follow in order to apply for a research grant.

NIU psychology professor Wesley Kasprow said the sponsored projects office asks for background to make sure instructors wanting to do research have knowledge in those fields. He said researchers are asked what format their research will follow, including the research design, the data they have collected and the subjects of their research. The background information also must state how the research will advance their field of knowledge.

Schwarz said a researcher must read trade publications to find out which subjects have been or are being researched to prevent redundancy or rejection.

The research can change in terms of procedure after the proposal is approved because it is only a proposal, “not written in stone,” Kasprow said.

The researcher must anticipate the length of the research project, which usually ranges from one to five years, Kasprow said. Most researchers ask for a certain amount of time, and usually are given that amount. Extensions can also be obtained if needed, he said.

Funding, however, is a different story, Kasprow said. If researchers are granted a certain amount of money, they usually cannot obtain any more funding after it runs out, he said. Researchers usually receive 90 to 100 percent of the funds they ask for, he said.

Kasprow said only about 10 percent of all proposed research is funded nationally, and the NIU average is similar to the national average.

If a researcher finds information that is worth sharing, he or she can choose to publish it, he said. Certain steps must be followed in order to get something published.

Kasprow said the researcher first must write a manuscript, then find a journal that fits the type of research done. A researcher can expect rejection or acceptance from the journal within three months, he said.

When the selected journal’s editor receives the manuscript, the editor and two others knowledgeable in the research field review the manuscript for soundness, Kasprow said. He said the editors then decide to accept, reject or suggest revisions of the manuscript before sending it back to the researcher.

This is the point where a researcher can expect a big delay from the time the research is finished to the time it is published, Kasprow said. Since many researchers want to have their work published, there is often a wait—as long as six to eight months—to get material published, he said.

These steps only apply to an accepted manuscript. Kasprow said there are several reasons a research manuscript might be rejected.

If the question the faculty member researched is pertinent but the research is not, the researcher has to assume the critics are “wrong or didn’t understand what was written. The manuscript has to be rewritten,” he said.

Another reason for a delay might be the critics’ reservations about missing information in the research. Kasprow said the researcher often is asked to find out more information for their work to be accepted.

Kasprow said another, less common reason for rejection is that the research is inappropriate for the journal chosen.

Wednesday: Research conducted by NIU professors and the contributions of the Social Science Research Institute to faculty research.

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