A: Promote Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity

Provide technology services to promote research, scholarship and creative activity.

In August 2013, UNLV unveiled the Tier One initiative, a multi-decade strategy for becoming a top 100 American research university by attaining a Carnegie Foundation designation of "Research University/Very High" (RU/VH). In extensive campus planning sessions the Tier One initiative was honed, expanded, and renamed Top Tier. The Top Tier strategic plan reaffirms the university’s commitment to attaining Carnegie’s highest research classification by 2025. The new strategy also delineates plans to meet UNLV’s equally vital role in enriching the quality of life in Southern Nevada.

The Top Tier pathway goals and success measures to guide UNLV’s efforts to promote research, scholarship, and creative activities over the next decade. A high-level summary of key measures of success on that pathway are included in Table A-1 below.

Table A-1: Top Tier Key Measures of Success
Research, Scholarship, & Creative Activity
  • Carnegie Research University/Very High status
  • $150 million annual research expenditures
  • 120 new non-faculty PhD researchers
  • 5% research commercially sponsored
  • 200 doctorates per year (60% increase)
  • Increase depth and breadth of student participation in research
  • Increase in intellectual activity, patents, and entrepreneurial activity fostered by UNLV
  • University-wide infrastructure developed to support research, scholarly, and creative activity

The campus is making steady progress towards creating a university culture that augments and accelerates interdisciplinary research in areas closely tied to the UNLV mission and the State of Nevada’s plans for economic development. UNLV’s Top Tier Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity core team has identified several changes that will build an environment more conducive to achieving the university’s research goals. Those plans include:

  • Increasing collaboration
  • Improving institutional support for investigators pursuing grants
  • Re-architecting research infrastructure, space, and services
  • Elevating customer service
  • Providing mentorship for both faculty and students involved in research

As the teams prioritize resources to achieve these enhancements, engagement with campus technology governance groups is highly recommended. UNLV’s technology architecture must be designed to offer a solid foundation for the university’s planned growth.

Many of the changes recommended to improve UNLV’s research environment require a corresponding elevation and adjustment of IT infrastructure and services. Evolving methods of research, scholarship, and creative activity place greater reliance on the utilization of external digital resources, require extended resource sharing with broad multi-institutional collaborations and consortiums, and utilize increasingly resource-intensive forms of data (e.g., large data sets, video, interactive data, simulations). Seamless connection to these new scholarly resources requires supporting upgrades in network infrastructure, storage, software, authentication, and IT security. Additionally, lab upgrades and new types of collaboration spaces depend on changes in the underlying technology.

Whether one’s vision of a lab includes state-of-the-art tethered research spaces with network-aware sensors that phone home status updates to maintain a precise laboratory environment, specialized technology for set design changes in the fine arts, high-capacity computers for data analysis, or increased use of video monitoring, research spaces are increasingly dependent on a wide range of new technologies. Even researchers who envision the optimal research space as a completely untethered lab using mobile technology to bring their tools to the field, require underlying technology adaptations to ensure their labs meet research compliance requirements.

Research strategic planning

The campus is also in the early stages of developing a comprehensive Research Strategic Plan that will move UNLV closer to realizing its goal of achieving the Research University/Very High (RU/VH) designation.

In addition to articulating how UNLV will achieve the desired RU/VH designation, a comprehensive research strategic plan must address the needs of individual faculty members and the students they mentor in the field and in their laboratories, studios, and classroom. The plan must also ensure the campus objectives laid out in the UNLV Core Theme focused on research, scholarship, and creative activity are met. Finally, the research plan must address the growing reliance on the technology needed to support all aspects of research activity.

Providing the technology environment

The initiatives in the UNLV IT Master Plan contain numerous action items designed to build a technology environment that:

  • Provides a foundation for enhancing research, scholarship, and creative activity
  • Enables individual scholarly pursuits of faculty, students, and staff
  • Supports Top Tier goals
  • Adapts to accommodate the new directions that arise out of the Research Strategic Plan

Table A-2 describes how action items within each IT Master Plan initiative provide specific support for research, scholarship, and creative activity. Detailed information about each of the action items, including outcomes and interdependencies, are described in the full initiative. A summary of the timeline and resources required for these action items can be found in Section 5.

Table A-2: UNLV IT Master Plan: Enabling the Mission
Initiative IT Support for Promoting Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity
Governance of IT
  • Includes a research representative on the Technology Advisory Committee
  • Includes two committee members representing research on the Technology Review Board
  • Creates a Research Technology Group to prioritize and coordinate technology needs
Strategic Technology Planning
  • Ensures the IT Master Plan aligns with the evolving Top Tier research initiatives and the new Research Master Plan
  • Fosters long-term planning to build an IT environment that makes UNLV appealing to new investigators and helps generate new grant opportunities
  • Balances long-term planning with the creation of an agile IT environment capable of responding quickly to the needs of newly funded research
IT Leadership and Coordination
  • Provides a CIO position that advocates for campus research activities and supports the efforts of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development
  • Charges the CIO with developing relationships with local, state, regional, and federal agencies to understand changes in technology that impact research
  • Fosters collaboration across the IT community to better support research initiatives
  • Broadens UNLV’s involvement with Internet2 and other technology consortia
IT Projects
  • Ensures IT procurement and project prioritization processes accommodate research needs
  • Includes research representatives in the IT project prioritization processes
  • Leverages IT purchasing power for research tools
  • Establishes technology standards and designs IT architecture for quicker deployment of research technology
IT Service Coordination
  • Catalogs all campus IT services to identify technology resources available to investigators
  • Incorporates research technology services in the IT Service Catalog
  • Coordinates IT services to meet specialized research needs
  • Establishes service level agreements for research technologies
Sustaining Technology Investments
  • Develops a funding model to maintain and renew grant-funded equipment
  • Updates IT infrastructure, enabling investigators to rapidly implement new technologies
IT Awareness and Training
  • Expands just-in-time online and in-person technical training for research technologies
  • Promotes peer-led professional development activities focusing on research technology
  • Incentivizes technological experimentation and innovation in the laboratory and in the field
  • Provides targeted information about IT issues relevant to investigators
Information Security
  • Includes a research representative on the Cyber Security Team
  • Assists investigators in identifying and mitigating risk associated with collecting, storing, and sharing research data
  • Implements backup services to ensure the protection of research documents and data
  • Helps investigators comply with IT security requirements (e.g., HIPAA, DoD, Export Control)
iNtegrate 2
  • Reduces labor-intensive administrative processes (e.g., hiring, travel, procurement)allowing investigators to focus on their research
  • Implements a grants and contracts module for more effective management of grant funds
  • Supports interfaces between human resource and finance administrative systems and research administration tools
  • Improves investigators’ access to research budget information
Identity Management and Single Sign-On
  • Expedites cross-institutional collaboration via federated credentials for authorization and access to shared research resources through the InCommon Federation
  • Simplifies access to research resources and library collections at other institutions
  • Expedites the provisioning of credentials for access to university applications and data
  • Facilitates interdisciplinary research collaboration through role-based security
  • Increases mobile access to research-related information and services
  • Supports investigators using mobile devices in the field
  • Supports researchers developing and/or acquiring mobile applications
  • Expands wireless capacity in research facilities
Enterprise-wide Document Management
  • Increases ability to search for electronically-routed research data and documents
  • Provides automated records retention compliance for research documents
  • Assists with e-forms creation, electronic data capture, and automated workflows to increase research administration efficiency
Leveraging Institutional Data
  • Creates dashboards showing progress towards achieving Top Tier research goals
  • Adds research data to the campus data warehouse to allow cross-functional reporting
  • Facilitates the development and implementation of research data management plans
  • Expands access to data analytics and reporting tools
  • Improves access to institutional profile data used to support grant proposal development
Communication and Collaboration Tools
  • Increases visibility into research activities across key audiences
  • Improves communication with appropriate constituents through targeted messaging
  • Increases teamwork, productivity, and administrative efficiency among research teams by maximizing the utilization of existing and new communication and collaboration tools
  • Implements web-conferencing and Unified Communications to facilitate team collaboration

While each major initiative in the plan includes action items that will enhance the infrastructure and business practices that support the advancement of research, scholarship, and creative activity, additional needs that did not fit squarely within those initiatives have also been identified. Table A-3 provides a brief summary of the action items to meet needs identified in the UNLV Current Information Technology Environment Report and in the follow-up work sessions and leadership team review that are not contained in other parts of the plan.

Table A-3: Additional Action Items that Promote Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity
Type of Need Recommended Action Item
Data Management Develop options to support research-specific data management needs (e.g., archiving, curation, accessibility, rights management, security)
Data Storage Provide options for storage and access to large data sets (e.g., created by investigators, acquired from other sources, available commercially)
High-speed Connectivity Partner with System Computing Services and Switch Communications to provide additional options for high-speed connectivity for investigators
Research Network Re-architect the UNLV network core to support a virtual, secure, expandable, high-speed research network
Support for Data Scientists Provide the technology infrastructure and support needed to support data scientists (e.g., high-speed connectivity, analytic tools, programmers, statisticians)
Technical Support Increase the number of programming staff to support the development of research applications
Research Administration  Implement new and/or enhance research administration tools to provide support for:
  • Animal protocols
  • Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) protocols
  • Conflict of Interest tracking
  • Export control management
  • Tracking foreign travelers and visiting investigators
  • More effective interfaces between the major research administration applications
  • Grant acquisition and management
  • Integrations with the new human resources and finance systems