Katie Howard, Assistant Director of Grants Resources & Services and department Director, Karen Fletcher, put their hearts into competition management, from the big picture to the individual details so that research continues to thrive at Appalachian State University. As an institution of about 18,000 students, competition coordination is the responsibility of one or two staff, meaning Katie was investing time in managing the multiple systems that were used for submissions, review processes, and applicant communication.
“I was used to just scanning short, one-sentence review comments before sending them back to applicants,” she said, “but suddenly I was seeing review comments that were longer, with much more robust feedback than I had seen before.” She realized InfoReady Review’s design helped reviewers to engage more deeply with proposals, and reduced the distraction of keeping track of rubrics and assignments. Katie was thrilled at the unexpected improvement in the quality of reviews.
Katie considers that InfoReady gave her the tools to make specific improvements to her process.
- Clear instructions. Katie created the routing steps in InfoReady Review to provide instructions for specific criteria for both rubrics and comments. “Our reviewers are now leaving detailed comments for each of the routing step criteria,” Katie commented. She believes that by prompting reviewers to think about one aspect of the application at a time, reviewers are guided to think more deeply about their feedback. Removing ambiguity, such as a generalized “comments” section, allows reviewers to use energy on evaluating each part of the application rather than trying to think of what to write.
- Transparency. The centralized system improves transparency and makes the process easier for both reviewers and applicants. InfoReady Review enables Katie to configure competitions that organize all review criteria and house all the necessary documents so that reviewers don’t have to go back and forth between systems. By making it easier for reviewers to keep track of criteria, Katie’s review process became easier to manage and more productive.
So what’s next for Katie and the Director of Grants Resources & Services, Karen Fletcher? “With more time, we can now start focusing on program initiatives, like application workshops and promoting opportunities,” she says. "The Office of Research is offering other departments/colleges on campus the opportunity to work with InfoReady as the benefits of the system are wide enough to be considered as a whole-campus solution for internal processes that require review."