Facilitating faculty development and research through critical review of grant proposals and articles

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Abstract

BACKGROUND. In 1983 the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston established a faculty development program to address faculty needs for continuing education and improved resources for research. At first a part-time coordinator was hired; then, in 1985, a full-time, faculty-level science communicator provided help with strategic planning of projects and intensive review of grant proposals and journal articles. Faculty participation in the program was voluntary. METHOD. Pre- and post-intervention data for 1983–1992 included numbers of faculty using the program, faculty evaluations of the program, grant dollars awarded, counts of grant submissions and awards, and numbers of published articles. RESULTS. The review services were used heavily for grant proposals (75% of the department's proposals), but were used lightly for research articles (18% of publications). Grant funding quadrupled from 1983 to 1988; although funding peaked in 1988, it thereafter remained at three to four times the 1983 level. In contrast, the mean number of publications per faculty per year dropped between 1983 and 1990. CONCLUSION. The program provided valuable assistance to the faculty in writing grant proposals, and it helped to generate critically needed resources. However, the program's failure to increase the publication productivity of the faculty suggests that despite financial pressures, similar programs should use their influence and resources to promote a balance between scholarly publication and grant acquisition.

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