COEUS: Behind The Numbers

Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat: We know.  We know that COEUS causes headaches.  We know that you all consider certain parts of it irrelevant, and others too confusing.  We know that sometimes our answers to your questions don’t provide as much clarity as you would like.

That all being said, the fact remains that COEUS remains an integral part of the research administration process here at JHU, and at other Universities throughout the country.  And while we can eventually see the “results” of COEUS submissions on a somewhat micro level, we can often lose sight of one of the main reasons it was established in the first place, namely the ability to provide a macro overview of the research activities of a given institution.

Here at JHU, several of the University’s higher-ups regularly receive a data package that includes (1) the fiscal year and fiscal month of proposal submissions; (2) the total requested funding; (3) the date of award; and (4) the total of awarded funding.  Besides painting an overall picture of what a particular school is doing, the report allows the University Executive Committee to identify trends and patterns in funding opportunities, which then affects how resources are allocated across a particular institution.  Additionally, the report can be used, in a general sense, to predict the future when requesting funding.  For example, the data can provide the success rates that Bloomberg PIs have when applying to different sponsors. PIs can then have a better idea as to the likelihood of receiving a Notice of Award and perhaps look for a different source of funding.

Consequently, COEUS doesn’t just provide the immediate benefit of allowing your grants or contracts associate to begin working on your project, but it is also an important resource for University administrators as they shape an institution’s research endeavors and the support provided therein.       So, the next time a string of four-letter words leaves your mouth as you try to figure out which type of proposal to choose, and you hear us say for the millionth time that accuracy in data entry is imperative, keep in mind that there is a method to the madness, and the ultimate goal is something that benefits everyone.