Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Jennifer Gunter Reeves

Committee Member

Katrina Pann

Committee Member

Kimberly Durham


Universities are struggling to keep up with the cost of doing research. Some are searching for new ways to improve their likelihood of getting grant funding to support their research efforts. As a function of the academic research enterprise, research development offices and research development staff at universities utilize specific activities to enhance grant funding success and support university research goals. This study examines university research development activities and research development offices to determine if formal research development offices are perceived to have value and what research development activities are most impactful. The issue of fair measures of success for research development offices is also explored. The outcomes of this study contribute to the knowledge base about research development at universities, and identify best practices currently being implemented on university campuses. The researcher carried out this sequential explanatory mixed methods study as follows. First, the researcher examined the literature on university research development activities to establish the current knowledge base on this topic. Next, the researcher collected quantitative and qualitative data, via an electronic survey and one-on-one interviews, to determine what research development activities and best practices have contributed to increasing sponsored grant funding, and to collect research university administrators’ experiences with leading a research development office. The synthesis of the data collected resulted in recommendations for establishing a successful research development office. The resulting recommendations include learning from research development colleagues and identifying the needs and strengths of university stakeholders. Study results revealed that as a relative newcomer to the academe, research development can improve the likelihood of getting grant funding and support university research goals. To demonstrate this value and to justify investment in office and personnel, it is necessary to conduct research development efforts strategically to best utilize office resources while accomplishing the research goals of the institution. Growing a university research enterprise can often involve a cultural shift. It can take years for such a shift in an institution’s research culture to happen, and this must be recognized when assessing the return on investment for research development activities and offices. Thus, metrics are needed to demonstrate impact, and while these metrics may include the level of annual sponsored funding, there are many other measures that can and should be used to assess the office fairly. Best practices identified in this study include the selection of support for large, multi-investigator project grants as the most important and impactful research development activity. Other highly ranked research development activities are internal grant programs, grant team project management, and grant writing workshops.

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