Faculty members using animals in research or teaching confront a sizable amount of paperwork to ensure they comply with legal and ethical rules. There’s a 17-page application form, an annual renewal form and a final report, not to mention forms for medical surveillance, environmental health and safety, and changes in personnel and protocols.
“It’s a lot to organize,” says Judy Schledorn, director of the university committee responsible for animal care and use. Schledorn knows the procedures — and paperwork — inside and out. And she’s using that knowledge to help move the process onto NC State’s new cloud-based research administration system.
The system, called Research Enterprise Data, will include modules designed to streamline and simplify most research administration tasks, from developing proposals and managing budgets to submitting reports and complying with regulations. Schledorn and her committee are working on the animal care and use module, due to go live in April.
New and Improved
Schledorn has high hopes for the new electronic system, which she believes will benefit both researchers and administrators. “Our current process is electronic, but it’s not centralized,” she explains.
In fact, the current process is decidedly old school. Researchers must download documents from the committee website, fill them out on their own computer and then send them via email for review. If committee members have questions or need additional information, they correspond with researchers by email.
Once the new electronic module goes live, researchers will be able to access an online dashboard where they’ll be able to fill out and submit forms and track the progress of their applications. “They won’t have to call us or email us to ask questions,” Schledorn says. “They’ll be able to go to the workflow chart and find out about the status of their proposals — day or night.”
Schledorn and her colleagues have been working behind the scenes to make sure the new electronic system, developed by industry leader InfoEd Global, has the features and functions NC State users need. They’ve participated in several rounds of user acceptance testing, providing valuable feedback to programmers in NC State’s Office of Information Technology.
“The new system will certainly streamline the communication and review process,” she says. “It should make things go smoothly for everyone. What it won’t change is our dedication and commitment to our faculty.”
Schledorn, now starting her fourth decade at NC State, has seen enough change on campus over the years to know it will take time for faculty and staff to get comfortable with the new system.
“Change is challenging,” she says. “But progress happens.”