What We Do – eRA 101

If you’re not involved in research or are unfamiliar with how research works, the pages of this site will likely make little sense.  The site is designed for institutional executives, principal Investigators, research administrators, and other faculty and students involved in the research process. We invite those folks to jump right into our Solutions pages.

For those of you who are not in the field of research but are still curious about what InfoEd does, this page is for you.

Research Administration

So, what is InfoEd Global all about?  Before that question can be answered, it would be helpful for you to first understand what Research Administration (RA) is.  There is no single, agreed-upon definition of RA; perhaps the best way to illustrate what it entails is to explain how RA comes into play at research institutions and the processes that require it.

You don’t need an in-depth understanding of what research means in order to know that research, of some kind, happens.  However it happens, research is conducted at corporations, universities, science foundations and at many other entities throughout the world.  Whether that research is within the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering or medical fields, research is happening – and none of it is possible without funding.

Research funding can come from anywhere – charitable foundations, not-for-profits, and private corporations as well as local, state and federal governments.  Regardless of the source, these entities – we call them Sponsors – attach certain requirements to the use of those funds.  Regardless of what a Sponsor expects from the research itself, whether it is delivered materials, new technology or a published paper, Sponsors want the research to be managed (administered) and the activities and results of which reported; basically, they want to know what’s happening with their money.

But there’s more to it than just the money.  There are regulations that must be abided, reviews that need to be conducted by individuals and boards, certifications to be acquired, conflicts that must be averted, all of which must be tracked and managed throughout the lifecycle of the research project – something that can go on for years.  Directing these different pieces – the money, the certifications, the cooperative agreements, as well as bringing the research to a close, publishing the results and possibly transferring that work to marketing entities for sales or royalties – are all part of the administrative processes occurring behind the scenes, usually performed by administrative staff, while the pure research itself is being carried out by the researcher.

Research Administration, therefore, is pretty much what it sounds like: managing the administrative work involved in Research.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA)

Tracking the information that supports a single research project over several years is a complex undertaking.  In addition to the mountains of paperwork that can accumulate, there are volumes of constantly changing regulations and requirements with which researchers must stay up-to-date.  Getting it wrong can cost a research organization a lot of money and a researcher their reputation, or even their career.

The average research university in the US has hundreds of research projects underway simultaneously – each one carrying the weight of those same complexities.  Until the later 1990’s, most of the administration being done was tracked on paper, email and spreadsheets.  Even today, many universities continue to use these same methods for managing research administration.

In recent times, software applications have begun to take the place of paper.  Databases that collect and store information are combined with workflow applications that manage the research administration process, which serves to streamline and track the administrative requirements of a research project.  In addition, many Sponsors have introduced automated tools to assist researchers in gathering and providing the information required for a research project to be funded.

Electronic Research Administration (eRA) is the industry term for doing what used to be done on paper, except electronically – using software to manage the data and to automate many of the processes that facilitate the administrative work involved in research.

InfoEd eRA Solutions

Hopefully, what we do is a little clearer now.  InfoEd is eRA software developed by InfoEd Global – but to leave it at that would be to do ourselves a terrible disservice.

In today’s eRA, there are applications designed to facilitate many different parts of the full research lifecycle:  some software is designed simply to submit a researcher’s proposal for research to a Sponsor; some eRA software only manages financial tracking from one system to another; other applications are used by Ethics Review Boards for approving protocols; and still more software is designed to manage Clinical Trials.  The use of animals in research must follow very strict guidelines, so there is also software to track that; while different applications will assist in managing when and where completed research is published, along with other marketing functions.  As you may see, an institution’s eRA needs, with regard to the managing of all these processes and related information, are varied and extensive.

So, in answer to the question of what InfoEd Global actually does: we provide the only fully-integrated eRA solution.  It’s the only software that does it all – or what we like to say – from Concept (the researcher’s ideas that spark the research process) to Closeout (the publishing of a research paper).  We also help our clients – universities, research hospitals, private enterprise and even some governments – to move from their old, paper-based systems to the modernly efficient and dynamic InfoEd eRA system.  This takes lots of time and training, but we do that, too.

Sure, it’s more complex than what has been described here (a lot more), but hopefully it’s enough to get you started.  If you have more questions, we’d love to talk with you.  Contact us anytime.