Basic Summary of Faculty Association Research Survey

 

The Faculty Associations' Research Council and Faculty Affairs Committee jointly created a survey to gather information from the faculty about the role that research and creative scholarly activity play in their careers here at UNF.  We further sought to gain an understanding of faculty perceptions of research and its place here at UNF, and how the university might be able to support faculty in their scholarly efforts. 

 

The survey was launched on November 7th and President Pyati sent out a call for participation to all faculty on that day.  Reminders were sent from Pyati to all faculty on November 17th and the 28th.  The deadline for completing the survey was December 1st. In all, 177 anonymous responses were collected (though not all respondents answered all of the questions).

 

Note: mis-configured radio-button options on a few questions make their results unreliable.

 

The following is a basic, descriptive summary of the results of that survey.

 

Demographics:

  • College affiliation of respondents broadly mirrors the make-up of the faculty.  Specifically, 50% of respondents self-identified as members of the College of Arts and Sciences; 10-14% indicated membership in each of the following: Brooks College of Health, College of Computing, Engineering, and Construction, and the College of Education and Human Services.  Almost 8% identified as coming from the Coggin College of Business and almost 5% from Carpenter Library.
  • The following units’ respondents each represent over 5% of the overall sample: Carpenter Library, the School of Nursing, Biology, English, Psychology, Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, and the School of Engineering.  All other units each represented less than 5% of the sample.
  • The sample includes a large (88%) representation of tenure-line faculty and librarians (with 26%-34% coming from each of the assistant, associate, and full ranks).  Almost 2% of respondents identified as Lecturers.  Seven of the 9% of the sample indicating “other” identified themselves as Instructors.
  • Almost two-thirds of the respondents (62%) have been at UNF 6 or more years, whereas37% have been at UNF less than 6 years.

 

Types of research/scholarship/creative activity:

  • Following the Boyer model, most respondents (60%) characterized their scholarship as the scholarship of discovery that includes original research that advances knowledge.  The next largest group of respondents (21%) characterized their scholarship as the scholarship of application that goes beyond the service duties of a faculty member.
  • Fifty-five percent of respondents indicated that some or all of their scholarship was community-based.
  • Approximately 19% of respondents indicated that their scholarship originated in a clinical setting.
  • Two-thirds (64%) of faculty indicated that their scholarship involves other faculty collaborators (either at UNF or from other institutions). 
  • Three-fifth (60%) indicated that their scholarship involves human subjects
  • Nearly three-fifth (58%) indicated involving undergraduate students in their scholarship. 
  • Anywhere from a third (33%) to half (50%) indicated the use of graduate students, external funding, access to resources not available at UNF, a laboratory, and specialized equipment.
  • Most respondents (87%) report publishing multiple-authored or a combination of multiple- and single-authored articles

 

Time spent on Scholarship:

  • A majority (57% of respondents) indicated spending on average over 5 hours per week on scholarship during the fall/spring terms.  However, 90% of respondents indicated that they would like to devote over 5 hours per week on scholarship. 
  • Fewer (12% of respondents) indicated spending 1 hour or less per week on scholarship. Less than 3% indicate that they would like to spend 1 hour or less per week on scholarship.
  • Over one half (53%) of respondents indicate spending over 10 hours per week on scholarship during the summer.

 

Funding:

  • A majority of respondents (57%) indicated having anywhere from 1-9 external funding applications funded during their career.
  • Some (29%) faculty indicated never having had an application funded, while 13% indicated having more than 10 applications funded.
  • Over half of respondents (53%) conduct summer research that is unfunded/not sponsored; 34% indicated that their summer research was a mixture of funded and not funded work (with an average of 38% of that work being funded).

 

Support for Scholarship/Research/Creative Activities:

  • Some (28% of respondents) indicated that additional travel or professional development funds would best enhance their scholarship. 
  • Some (23% of respondents) indicated a need for graduate research assistants. 
  • Of the 24% that indicated some “other” support, 59% described some variation on “time”, “course release”, or “reduced teaching load”.

 

Faculty perception of UNF’s research mission or identity:

Many respondents indicated that UNF’s research identity was indistinct, unclear, conflicted, or unknown to them.  Example comments include:

  • “It is interesting because our college is truly undecided. We have faculty who think of themselves as TOP SCHOLARS and want no/none/zero credit for research that is not top tier (especially those in professorships).  Others want to do research in order to enhance their teaching/ have great class room applications and help students with their own research.  At 3 classes a term, so many other projects that we do (online course development, updating courses, study abroad, search committees), we probably and not going to be top tier.  I think we need to understand, what is it that we want from our faculty wrt [“with regard to”] research?   If you give incentives for completed grant applications, I bet you will get a lot of them.”
  • “This varies from department to department, and by individual faculty member. There is no coherent institutional research mission -- which is a problem.”
  • “It's really not clear to me. We seem to vacillate with saying research is highly important but the supports to not seem to align with that.”
  • “This is a difficult question to answer.  At this university, we are expected to teach three classes a semester and have a strong research agenda including acquiring outside research grants.  I have received mixed messages over the years that we are a teaching university however there is such a strong pressure and push to do research and get papers published.  If you want UNF to be a research one institution, then we should only be teaching one class a semester.  There needs to be better and more concrete expectations set for professors.”
  • “I am not aware of UNF's research mission.”, “Extremely confused”, “Not clear!”, and “undefined, underdeveloped”
  • “Unclear.  It really depends which administrator [sic] you ask, and even then they do not know.  Is it for the undergraduate/graduate [sic] experience or is it to publish at the highest rate possible.”
  • “UNF has a schizophrenic research identity.  Some departments have a very strong research record whereas the others are mainly focused on teaching or clinical studies.  The administration failed to clearly articulate UNF research identity which is not surprising since there is such a huge difference between departments and perhaps the colleges.”
  • “UNF has not decided what it's [sic] research mission is. There are conflicting messages from individual departments and higher administration. The importance of research needs to be clarified and a uniform message should be presented from the top down.”
  • “Seems to vary by department. I feel like there are mixed messages to some degree too. Sometimes it seems like UNF wants faculty to do research but not too much.  Other times, there seems to be a lack of support or even time for research. I know that we are not an R1 and I don't think we should try to be but I do think it's time to define what we are a little better.”
  • “I really don't know what it is. Maybe I would describe it as "unclear"?”
  •  “Nebulous at best.  A means to hold untenured faculty to unreasonable expectations, given the teaching load and perverse lack of startup funds and research infrastructure”
  •  “UNF's research mission, identity, niche, or role is presently incoherent. The president and provost do not value research except as it is measurable in terms of dollars of external funding.”
  • “If there is such a thing (and I'm sure we've got some fine-sounding research mission) I suspect it says something about local engagement, and is largely ignored. We all tend to do our own thing and, as a result, I suspect there isn't much critical mass that allows us to excel at anything.”
  • “Conflicted: The promotion and tenure expectations of a Research 1 university but with fewer resources and a 3/3+ teaching load.”
  • “Conflicted--On one hand we describe our primary mission as teaching, yet scholarship seems to be the key determiner in the P&T process.”
  • “Again, I think the University needs to decide what it wants to be when it grows up and then push the colleges to embrace the vision and implement research standards that are consistent with the university's vision. Maybe we are there already, but there seems to be significant differences in research standards even among departments within the same college, which suggests that the University has taken a "we'll leave it up to you to define scholarship standards" approach, and we end up with a piecemeal approach to scholarship standards. More consistency is what I would like to see.”
  • “We need a more clear connection between all parties (administrators and faculty) on what our mission is. Depending on who I talk to, some say this is a teaching college and others say research. We cannot be both. If research is our mission, our resources and time need to align, otherwise, our responsibilities should reflect a value for teaching and lower requirements for research. While we can do both and do work on both, we are likely to either lose faculty or not recruit high quality faculty who are research-oriented without a true vision and direction. My external colleagues do not view UNF as a research institution and do not consider collaborations with some of us due to this as well.”
  • “UNF's research mission: Do research and publish if you can find the time & resources. In the meantime, teach 3 classes per semester, serve on department/college/university committees, be involved in your profession/discipline, and expect that you will continue to be underpaid compared to your counterparts.”

 

Some respondents indicate that UNF’s has a mixed research/teaching emphasis.  Often these comments mention research with undergraduate students.  Examples of these comments include:

  • “UNF's research is mission is to provide meaningful hands on research and educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.”
  • “UNF is a comprehensive university where research fits into the undergraduate education of students. Our students have direct contact with researchers (rather than doctoral students or TAs) and our background in research helps us to stay current in our field.”
  • “Most faculty are not research active, but a growing number of us are. It appears that there are some faculty whose publication and grants acquisition records are consistent with those of a Carnegie 1 research institution while most are not.”
  • “Undergraduate-focused”
  • “Good regional impact research incorporating undergraduate and graduate education in the scholarship process.”
  • “Competitive cutting-edge research with undergraduate level support”
  • “UNF's research is mission is to provide meaningful hands on research and educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students.”
  • “Most faculty enhance their teaching by staying active in research, attending conferences and publishing in their field. We are a teaching institution that does value research, but the three course load and very limited number of full pay sabbaticals make it very challenging to remain productive in one's scholarship.”

 

Faculty preference for what UNF’s research identity should be:

A large proportion of respondents indicated a preference for UNF to be a mixed teaching/research institution. Example comments include:

  • “I am amazed at the quality of researchers I interact with at UNF. My research mission (which I hope is closer to the University's mission one day) is to advance my field's knowledge base while providing intense learning experiences to graduate and undergraduate students. My research products are my publications, presentations, and students.”
  • “I wold [sic] like to see UNF having the reputation of an institution that supports both teaching as well s [sic] scholarship and not necessarily to the same degree for all faculty.”
  • “A continuous leader amongst teaching universities with blended research expertise that provides students and faculty with continuous advancement opportunities across domains.”
  • “Research based on advancing knowledge.  This may be through fundamental research, applied research or community-based projects.”
  • “Contributing (in a small way) to the creation of new knowledge, and training young students in the process of discovery.”
  • “Our faculty conduct research primarily in the interests of advancing our teaching, not as a means to win major grants, "relieve" us from teaching, etc.”
  • “Significant research completed in support of and in collaboration with our students.  Research impacts our profession, NE Florida, and in some cases, the nation as a whole.”
  • “We are already a well-regarded, inexpensive, regional university - however we need to be a university that clearly promotes research as part of the undergraduate experience”
  • “I would like UNF's research identity to be one that compliments the academics by putting what students learn in the classroom into practice.  In my mind there is no better way to learn than by doing.  UNF would then be THE place for undergraduate students because we are seen to:
    • encourage hands on learning/exploration of a subject (rather than just boring classroom academics)
    • provide a nurturing environment for exploring research
    • produce well rounded graduates that already know what they want to do”
  • “Research that is used as a tool to teach and better prepare our students, as opposed to chasing grant money.”
  • “I would like to see the University provide a clearer definition of what our mission is - teaching? Research? and then push that to the colleges so that there is some consistency in expectations. I personally favor keeping the teaching mission while encouraging good scholarship, but I definitely don't want to try and become a level 1 or even level 2 research institution.”
  • “I would like to see UNF become more distinguished as a research institution without losing its focus on undergraduate education. I think our goal should be to conduct world-class research that provides many opportunities for student involvement.”
  • “I came to UNF to teach and to make a difference in the community. I value the scholarship of teaching, especially when involved with clinical applications. This does not mean, I do not value true experimental design. I chose UNF because I could emphasize the former, rather than the latter.”
  • “It should be a research experience for our students.  Some expecations [sic] for publishing but within the context of who UNF is.”
  • “I like the identify [sic] that I described.  Sometimes it is too heavy of a teaching focus, but in general I like the idea of equal parts teaching and scholarship.”
  • “Maybe a bit more than it is. I don't want us to lose our teaching mission though.”
  • “I would like to see UNF as a place where students can be fully involved with research, and our research is used as a tool to train our students for future careers.”

 

Some respondents indicated a preference for a greater emphasis on research.  Example comments include:

  • “I would like to see research taken as seriously as teaching.”
  • “I would like UNF to be more research focused.”
  • “I know UNF has traditionally been a "teaching" school but over the last decade, many more faculty have been hired who want to do research so it seems like the notion has changed, at least among some.  I think we need to work hard to find a balance - not push too hard or hold people back when it comes to research.  Offer flexibility, opportunity, and support for research projects, particularly for those who have been a little excluded in the past (non-tenure-track faculty, for example). I want UNF to be a place people can thrive but also don't feel terrible pressure to research & publish in large quantities. That seems like a happy medium”
  • “I would like it to become more significant.”
  • “I would like to see it be top priority. It is through research that UNF's reputation will increase. It is also through research that programs will strengthen and improve.”
  • “More of a Research institution too”
  • “I would love to see more of an emphasis on research, especially for non-teaching faculty such as myself.”
  • “Without a research presence, UNF will remain a small, obscure college in northern Florida.”
  • “I'd like to see much more administrative commitment to promoting faculty research, especially in the humanities which tend to be left behind when it comes to funding and course releases.”
  • “R-1” & “Carnegie 1”
  • “A stronger focus on research, maybe like 50/50 rather than 25/75”

 

A few respondents indicated a preference for a greater emphasis on teaching.  Example comments include:

  • “I think the university needs to focus more on the education of the student.”
  • “Optional. UNF is a teaching institution. We will not and never will compete with our colleagues at the bigger schools.”
  • “We do not need a research focus.  We can't compete in that area at our size.  We should become the school of choice for excellent instruction.”
  • “We are a primarily undergraduate teaching university”
  • “We are a teaching school. We should stay that way.”

 

Faculty recommendations for how UNF can move towards having the research identity they believe it should have:

Many commenters recommended a reduction in the teaching load at UNF.  Examples include:

  • “lower teaching load would allow more focus on research”
  • “Incentivize research by offering reduced teaching loads.”
  • “Move to a different default faculty workload, i.e. 2/2 not 3/3.  Some faculty are welcome to opt out to a 2/3 or 3/3 workload but by default it should be 2/2.  This will attract better research faculty as well as transmitting that, at UNF, research is as important as teaching.”
  • “The second biggest obstacle is teaching time.  Moving to a 2/3 (or at least a 2/3 for those with an active research agenda) would do a great deal to free up the time necessary for good research.”
  • “get rid of the 3 + 3 teaching policy.  This should be a top priority.”
  • “More faculty time for research, including reduced teaching loads. It is unreasonable to expect too research with a 3/3 load.”
  • “Fund and give release time to the handful of productive researchers at the university.”
  • “Provide some teaching relief on a regular basis.  Even a course release every two years would be a welcome change.”
  • “Support for reducing teaching workload”
  • “Less of a teaching load, more summer salary support.”
  • “More flexible teaching schedules to allow for more research”
  • “Reduce teaching load, trust the faculty, and value research!”
  • “Reduction in Teaching load, direction from the TOP”
  • “I think we could move to a 3-2 teaching load. Our stated teaching load is 75%, but tenure-granting positions expect more research than can actually be done in less than 25% of our time (remembering that this 25% is divided between teaching and service.)”
  • “It will need to invest more money and give professors [sic] time to produce.”
  • “Start-up funds are not the issue, the current research productivity just seems unsustainable given the stresses on faculty and lack of institutional support services. Peer institutions with similar research goals have less teaching loads, and surely more supportive administration.”
  • “Without a path to lighter teaching loads, discussions towards increasing the quantity/quality of research and scholarly work are superfluous. Personally, I enjoy the teaching component so do not mean this remark to come across as a complaint, but UNF's primary niche should remain as an undergraduate teaching university until rebalancing the nominal allocation of faculty time can be entertained.”

 

In a similar fashion, many participants recommended the development of a flexible workload system whereby some faculty could take on a higher research load with associated lower teaching load and vice-versa.  Examples include:

  • “Research professors should possess lighter teaching loads once they demonstrate the ability to achieve tenure and promotion, while maintaining a high volume of scholarly work (e.g., 4-5 papers per year minimum).  Identify and recognize the individuals that possess lucid research agendas and consistently publish and present their work in high impact journals.  Totally disrupt the climate that one can 'fake it till they make it', which is pervasive.”
  • “There are faculty at UNF who are more interested in teaching than research. Let them reduce their research endeavors teach more. There are faculty who are more interested in research than teaching. Let them reduce their teaching load and do more research. There are models for this, especially in international universities that let faculty excel in their primary interest. I think the "one model fits all" approach here at UNF is doing the faculty and students a disservice.”
  • “By having flexible faculty appointments so faculty could focus more on research rather than teaching and by eliminating certain barriers that make it impossible for faculty to conduct research, such as the long IRB process, restrictions on using E&G funds for participant compensation, etc.”
  • “I believe we should move to a variable course load, with those faculty who publish having reduced teaching loads. I would like active publishers to have 3-2, 2-2, or 2-1 teaching loads. I would like those who do not publish to have 4-3 or 4-4 teaching loads.”
  • “UNF should allow flexibility in scholarship and teaching within departments.  Not all faculty within a department have the same research agenda.  As long as a department meets its teaching goals allow some faculty to focus on research and some to focus on teaching.”

 

Other support for faculty research was also recommended, including the following:

  • “It needs better supports for space, for assisting with grant writing and funding, for processing IRB, in assisting how to process and manage grants and budgets (e.g., lack of clarity when funds should be in ORSP vs. Foundation), financial support for graduate students. We need to decide if we are going to truly be a high level research institution and then ensure that the supports are there. NONE of these supports are there now, they are minimal.”
  • “I would like to see UNF more formally recognize the importance of student mentor-ship and involving students in research. The current discussions about how Directed Independent study etc should "count" toward our formal job duties illustrates that these efforts are not currently valued.  I think UNF could create a distinctive identity for itself as the place where students are involved with research, but faculty must be rewarded for these efforts consistently.”
  • “Funding for reseach [sic] is very small.  I typically pay a good bit out of pocket every year and have to turn down a number of other opportunities.  This is a big obstacle.”
  • “Would like to see the flagship programs increasingly known for their cutting edge research”
  • “Adequate space, funding, and support.”
  • “Have adequate support for research if UNF would like faculty to do research.”
  • “A departmental culture that provides support and accountability for research. Again, everything is left to the individual faculty member. The assumption seems to be that everyone can establish a research agenda by themselves straight out of grad. school, but I have found that is not the case. It is easy for assistant professors to fly under the radar, and reach a point at which they simply cannot produce enough scholarship to earn tenure. We need to help them. I believe we also need to foster a culture that supports and encourages senior faculty to continue their scholarship.”
  • “People who will help with statistical software and statistical analysis during both the study development phase and also when data is being analyzed. CIRT directs you to online videos which never handle the "tough" cases, only the more simplistic ones. Sometimes you simply don't know who to ask for help.”
  • “1. funding for faculty to do research 2. course releases for faculty who do more research 3. administrators who are supportive of faculty doing research”
  • “I would love to see UNF reexamine its stated goals for research vs. service vs. teaching. The reality should match what's on paper. And while I want and have a strong research agenda, my research isn't supported at the university. No space is set aside for faculty research, there are no start up funds when hired, and the teaching load should perhaps be 3-2 not 3-3.”
  • “Better research funding, more research course releases, and especially year-long paid sabbaticals.”
  • “I was awarded a four-year, $530,000 grant from the National Science Foundation over a year ago and as yet still have no laboratory space nor course release time, nor credit for mentoring graduate students.  Why would any potential faculty member interested in research as well as teaching at the graduate level want to work here?  I am becoming very disillusioned.”
  • “More support for faculty doing research, in the form of time (e.g. Summer research grants and more budget for attending conferences)”
  • “More travel funding for research conferences.”
  • “If research is to become a priority- resources to support research must be in place.”
  • “I think the administration needs to be more proactive in supporting research. This includes providing the type of research infrastructure (e.g. common-use facilities and equipment) that is common at research-active institutions. I would also like to see more opportunities for faculty with high research activity to receive course releases. (The current "banking" policy is a joke - it makes course releases, particularly in departments without graduate programs, virtually unobtainable.) At present, I feel that there is relatively little institutional support for research.”

 

Finally, many commenters indicated either a lack of rewards or recognition for scholarship effort or a need to increase those rewards.  Example recommendations include:

  • “A reward based system for research and scholarship.  Currently, research (publishing, writing proposals, funding, graduate students, etc) is not truly rewarded for faculty beyond the requirements for annual evaluation and tenure and promotion.”
  • “Be open minded and use less of the old time business models.   Recognize faculty creativity and reward it....the only recognition financially is when a faculty member becomes part of administration...and that plan is not conducive to research.”
  • “find a way to reward instructors for research efforts if undertaken.”
  • “Reward research so that talented young researchers will stay here--something that they are not, in the main, doing.”
  • “More recognition of faculty research. We have numerous stellar scholars in the humanities but are destined to lose them over time to other universities that both support faculty research and offer more competitive salaries. It's a shame.”
  • “University PR and development officials need to do a better job getting the word out on faculty research.  Faculty who do research describe it in their annual reports, which get boiled down into department and college tables, which, insofar as I can tell, get filed away, unread, somewhere in Building 1, until such time as they are entered as appendices in a SACS report.   Research should be rewarded through the annual review process as well as the P and T process. Otherwise, it becomes a double burden. That is, faculty do the work to get articles published and papers delivered, then describe the research and publication process a second time in their annual reports, and then watch as nothing happens at any level past that of department chair. The message is unmistakable: Higher administrators are indifferent to or ignorant of faculty research, unless it happens to carry with it significant overhead (rare) or significant prestige (not quite as rare, but ignored anyway.)   Thus faculty "take research at of their own hides," especially if they have already achieved professorial rank. That's not entirely a bad thing--nobody's in this line of work for big bucks--but it would be nice to have some awareness and recognition of the research that is being done. Overwhelmingly, the impression one has is of an administration caught up in a losing metrics game--to be sure, not a game of its own making--to the exclusion of the normal activities that are, or should be, at the core of institutional life.”

 

Other noted themes:

The discursive comments included 17 comments regarding the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Most were extremely negative.  Examples include:

  • “I believe that UNF's research mission is not really emphasized or taken seriously by the administration, else we would have a more efficient and effective IRB that processes protocols in a timely manner. The IRB has been exceptionally slow (3+ months for most protocols) since I have arrived at this university and although the administration says that they are interested in changing it, no real change has occurred in the past 2 years. In fact, the IRB has gotten much worse. These inefficiencies have completely demoralized junior faculty and have caused great strife with our graduate students, undergraduate students, community partners, and collaborators at other universities.”
  • “I also have found that the IRB approval process is very difficult I also feel that many university administrators do not value the professoriate or ethical IRB principles.”
  • “How can you say there is a research mission when we have a defunct IRB?”
  • “The IRB is a big problem - if the university values scholarly productivity the IRB has to be better staffed.”
  • “Must have improved IRB relationship/collaboration if research is a priority for faculty.”
  • “I'd be happy to simply see an operational IRB.  I think that's a start”
  • “I'm not as concerned with our research identity as I am with the inability to conduct research here due to IRB delays and other administrative obstacles.”
  • “Fix the IRB. My colleagues at other institutions are shocked when I tell them how difficult it is to progress with my research at UNF due to IRB delays and policies. My impression is that the administration does not realize the extent of the IRB issue or they lack the desire to fix it. I do not feel that UNF provides institutional support that would enable me to be a successful researcher.”
  • “Please put pressure on the administration to fix the IRB. There has been no change in the situation for over a year.”