New OVPR unit informs, supports U-M research mission with data


The Office of the Vice President for Research has launched a new unit that will analyze and integrate many types of data to serve, support and strengthen U-M’s research, scholarly and creative enterprise.

The Research Analysis & Data Integration Office — known as RADIO — already has played a key role in assessing university financial metrics to measure how the research enterprise is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a decline in spending and productivity. Research spending data recently culled by RADIO demonstrates the university is moving in a positive trajectory.

“We have a tremendous research community here at the University of Michigan, and using their expertise and other important resources, they are able to identify solutions to many of today’s important challenges with broad societal impact,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

“This new unit essentially provides us with an incredible opportunity to systematically use data to help ensure the university’s continued success.”

RADIO is led by Jason Owen-Smith, professor of sociology in LSA and research professor in the Institute for Social Research, where he founded and directs the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science. Launched in 2015, IRIS is a national consortium that collects administrative data from colleges and universities nationwide to better understand, explain and improve the public value of research.

In his new role as executive director of RADIO, Owen-Smith and his team have and will continue to partner with university leaders to identify critical challenges and then use data to identify potential solutions. One of those critical challenges involves equity across the research enterprise.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused and exacerbated a multitude of challenges and disparities across the university research community, so RADIO is analyzing award, submission and publication data across all three U-M campuses to measure equity across gender, race and discipline.

RADIO also will continue to analyze the university’s vast research portfolio in order to help position the university and its faculty to remain competitive at the frontier of human knowledge, which includes measuring how U-M compares with other peer institutions regarding externally sponsored awards and expenditures.

“One of the strengths of the University of Michigan is the diversity of its knowledge and research portfolio,” Owen-Smith said. “Understanding and strengthening all aspects of our research enterprise will help prepare the university to address today’s most pressing problems and to identify and respond to opportunities and challenges we do not currently know we have.

“We developed RADIO for exactly this purpose — to responsibly develop, maintain and use data from multiple sources to produce rigorous knowledge about our research endeavors that can support our research community and the fundamental needs of this university.”


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