Research Administration Is. . .Information Systems

Today’s post is the fourth in a series that looks at all facets of research administration within the Bloomberg School of Public Health. 

Part IPreface

Part IIFaculty

Part IIIDepartments

oris-content-imageName:                  Rebecca Riddell

Department:      Office of Research Information Systems

What is your position/title:          Research Data Analyst


At what point(s) in the research administration process do you normally get involved?

The Coeus Help Desk, staffed by the entire Office of Research Information Systems, is available to assist at any point in the research administration process as it relates to Coeus – pre-award, post-award, and everything in between!  The Help Desk receives emails on a daily basis containing questions about how to enter proposal information into Proposal Development records in Coeus.

My particular role usually begins after the proposal has been submitted to the sponsor.  Once the proposal has been submitted, I am tasked with reporting proposal trends to JHU’s Executive Committee and ensuring the accuracy of proposal information in the reports.

In addition to preparing reports in response to ad hoc requests from other university leadership, I send a monthly report to the Executive Committee describing proposal trends across the university over the past seven fiscal years.  The report includes information on the number of proposals as well as the amount of requested funding by such categories as Sponsor Type (federal, private profit, foundation, etc.) and Activity Type (organized research, instruction, etc.).  I also work constantly to discover and correct data errors in Coeus since incorrect proposal information will lead to inaccurate reporting.

When, within this process, do you generally work with ORA?

The Office of Research Information Systems works very closely with the university’s five ORAs to answer Coeus related proposal questions, support system-to-system proposal submissions, provide Coeus training to users, and ensure the accuracy of proposal information in Coeus.  I am frequently in contact with the ORAs to assist with reporting requests and address inaccurate proposal information.

What are some of the more common errors that you see that end up slowing down the process?

A common error is not starting the Proposal Development record early.  Creating the proposal in Coeus requires knowledge of the research funding announcement, the investigator’s proposal, the university’s policies, and the functionality of Coeus.  Dedicating plenty of time to work through all of these different facets is the best way to ensure a smooth proposal submission and accurate proposal reporting.

The Proposal Development records in Coeus hold a wealth of information about the proposals.  All of this information needs to be entered correctly and completely for both compliance and reporting purposes.  A single piece of data might seem trivial, but could determine the inclusion or exclusion of the proposal in a report.  For example, the Executive Committee Report only contains certain Proposal Types; choosing the wrong Proposal Type can negatively impact the report.  In addition, reports can be prepared using specific keywords in the proposal title such as ‘cancer’ or ‘vaccine.’  To ensure accurate reporting, enter the actual project title in Coeus instead of ‘Amendment 1’ or ‘Contract with NIH.’

What advice can you give to faculty and staff members that could help make the contract or grant process easier?

Start the Proposal Development record early and allow extra time for conversations and questions with ORA and the Coeus Help Desk.  If the proposal will be submitted system-to-system, submitted electronically from Coeus directly to Grants.Gov, start even earlier and submit it to Grants.Gov before the deadline date!  The proposal must successfully pass numerous Grants.Gov and sponsor validations prior to the deadline.

Effectively and efficiently using Coeus is an acquired skill.  If you are still learning the ropes, check out the Coeus User Guides and video tutorials on the Coeus Help Website (access to the website is only available behind the JHU firewall).  If you haven’t recently attended a Coeus training class, check out the Coeus Help Website and the University’s myLearning for hands-on classes in Proposal Development and Budgeting, as well as an Introduction to Coeus class for new employees.

Next Time: Offices of Sponsored Projects