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How is research infrastructure funded at your university?
We’re working on preparing for the merger of UTB and UTPA Universities in the Rio Grande Valley, and we’re looking at how other Universities do things to see if there are any areas we can improve on in the new merged University.
An issue we’ve identified is that we don’t currently have any central source of funding for research infrastructure, especially for items that benefit researchers in general but which span departments or colleges. We have lots of small ways of getting relatively small funds on a somewhat ad hoc basis, but no specific central funding for research infrastructure per se – and by that I mean, for example, things that are directly usable by researchers such as shared research labs, site licences for expensive software packages such as Matlab or SPSS, training for researchers, supercomputer access, high speed networking etc. If it isn’t something that an individual PI can acquire via their own grant, or one department can afford from their own funds, it tends to slip through the cracks.
So, do other universities support central funding for this kind of research infrastructure?
One possible area we’re looking into as a source of such funding is IDC. (IDC = “Indirect Costs”, ie a percentage that the University takes from most grants - http://tinyurl.com/ls645y3).
Currently at UTPA, our IDC is distributed as follows:
a. 50% to Business Affairs to invest into the University infrastructure to support research
b. 15% to the Dean; or to the Center if proposals were developed and submitted by a Center
c. 12.5% to the Department that the PI belongs to
d. 10% to the PI
e. 7.5% to the Office of Research
f. 5% to the Office of the Provost
(If you have a publicly documented table akin to the above, could you post it please?)
However it should be noted that the infrastructure that’s supported by the 50% that goes to Business Affairs is more bricks and mortar style infrastructure. It may support some facilities that are used by researchers such as the upkeep of the library, but it’s not for what’s commonly understood by research infrastructure or cyberinfrastructure. You wouldn’t ask for money from that pool to buy a $30K site licence for example.
So what we’re interested in knowing is whether this sort of distribution is considered best practice, or if there is any precedent from other universities, especial those already classified as research universities, to earmark funding for more directly research-related infrastructure expenditures out of IDC monies? Or if you have some other mechanism for funding research infrastructure, what is it?
best regards, and thanks in advance for any replies.
Office of Faculty & Research Support
UTPA. 956 665 7161 email@example.com