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Activities

On this page you will find an overview of the activities organised by the Leiden Research Support Network.

Read the newsletter here. 

In response to the tender for the selection of Research Management tooling for grants and research projects, four suppliers submitted proposals and provided quotations for their tools and services. 

The quotations from the suppliers were thoroughly evaluated by an assessment committee comprising representatives from various organizational units. Additionally, all four tools were tested in a trial setup by a broad group of potential users to assess their user-friendliness. 

Based on these qualitative assessments combined with pricing considerations, the supplier Vidatum emerged as the best choice. An agreement has been reached with this supplier, and the implementation is set to commence in January. Vidatum's tooling will be introduced collaboratively with the involved users of all faculties and institutes over the next one and a half years. 

More information about Vidatum and the implementation will be provided in January. For questions or suggestions, feel free to contact Robbert Bosch (r.a.bosch@science.leidenuniv.nl) or Dennis Janssen (d.c.f.m.janssen@bb.leidenuniv.nl). 

With the Leiden Research Support (LRS) programme, we worked on strengthening available support in the pre-award phase. Following in the footsteps of fellow knowledge institutions, we are now also giving post-award project management a boost. This will enable researchers to meet the requirements for funding and relieves them of the admin burden of implementation. It increases the chances of getting grants. In 2024 we are starting a new pilot where we aim to build a small university-wide capacity-pool of research project managers, housed at LURIS, but working on larger-scale local projects that have a substantial research management task and need. The flexible capacity in this pool can be used in externally funded complex collaborative projects when local capacity isn’t available

Background

Externally funded projects make up a large part of the research at Leiden University. A growing share of these trajectories consist of large-scale EU projects or public-private and public-public partnerships. However, managing such research projects has become increasingly challenging in recent times. The main reasons for this:

  • Many grants encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers and with societal partners, resulting in more coordination requirements.
  • Effectively managing projects increasingly requires professional coordination, communication and collaboration between different disciplines.
  • Competition between research institutes and universities is intensifying. 
  • For a number of funders, the project management to be carried out (including the expected results and reporting) is already an important weighting factor in the pre-award phase.
  • The project support workload can consist of a limited number of days in a week, thereby making it difficult to fill a (nearly) full-time project manager position within any single organizational unit.

In 2022 and 2023 the LRS projects has looked into this situation and currently, there is only limited capacity available at various parts of the university to support these large projects. Researchers mention this as a reason for reluctance to enter into collaborative projects. As a result, Leiden University may be missing out on opportunities. We therefor aim to start a pilot to expand this capacity.

The pilot

The pilot research project management, will run for  24-month months and consists of:

1. Setting up the pool with, initially, two project managers. They are assigned for portions of their time through LURIS for post-award project management of collaborative projects, where project management is part of the budgeted costs and the local unit currently lacks capacity to fill in this role. 
2. Sharing and securing knowledge through the research project management community and stimulating the professional development of project managers.

The pool is expected to be available for the first research projects in March 2024.  

What are the benefits?

There are several advantages to working with a pool of project managers:

  • Project managers are available throughout the project life cycle, so researchers don't have to worry about the management burden of large projects.
  • Projects can start quickly, because project managers don't have to be recruited externally first. 
  • It provides flexibility and scalability for externally funded research projects that can vary in size and duration. 
  • Expertise is not lost, but is built, expanded and secured within the pool.
  • The role of project manager becomes more interesting and it offers career prospects, especially for colleagues with a temporary (project) appointment.

Who is the pool for?

Researchers who have been awarded external funding for a complex collaborative project (which includes capacity for project management) can request the deployment of a portion of the time of a pool project manager. The project managers are deployed based on their experience and expertise, paying attention to the needs and requirements of the specific project. It is expected that the greatest demand will come from EU Horizon Europe projects and a number of complex national projects, such as those arising from het Nationaal Groeifonds. 

The pool is a new service complementary to already existing project management capacity within institutes and faculties. If project management capacity is already available locally (faculty/institute), it is expected that the locally available workforce will first be called upon.

Which services will be offered

Project managers of the pool will unburden researchers with the managerial aspects of their research projects. Services are tailored to your project’s needs and the resources available. The support includes activities such as:

  • Close collaboration on a daily basis with the Principle Investigator (PI) of the project, who is responsible for the scientific content of the project.
  • Performing day to day management, e.g., organizing consortium meetings, trainings, communication with partners, and alleviating the workload of the PI when it comes to non-scientific tasks.
  • Maintaining contact with the funder’s Project Officer (PO) regarding the progress of the project.
  • Assistance with all aspects of the projects’ contractual documentation, including change requests, amendments, and the draft of other agreements as required. 
  • Ensuring adequate and timely reporting of the project’s progress.
  • Coordinating the support of other (research) support staff, experts in fields such as legal, finance, HR and Business Development.

Learn more

Curious about this pilot? Please contact Anouschka Versleijen via a.g.s.versleijen@luris.nl or Dennis Janssen via d.c.f.m.janssen@bb.leidenuniv.nl. They will be happy to tell you more. 

The American National Institute for Health (NIH) will update their policy guidance for subawards/consortium written agreements (NOT-OD-23-182). In response to the HHS Office of Inspector Generals and Government Accountability Offices recommendations that NIH implement enhanced monitoring, documentation, and reporting requirements and to improve its oversight of awards with subrecipients the NIH has outlined its plans to update the NIH Grants Policy Statement, section 15.2. Effective January 1, 2024, section 15.2. will be updated to include the following clarifications (changes are bold and italicized).

5.2 ADMINISTRATIVE AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS
The following highlights several areas within the consortium relationship that the recipient needs to address with consortium organizations receiving subawards under a grant to ensure compliance with NIH requirements. The requirement for a written agreement addressing these and other areas is specified in this section. NIH will not support any agreement that does not meet the minimum requirements outlined in the written agreement section below (15.2.1). NIH reserves the right to request copies of the written agreement and relevant supporting documentation as needed, as part of its oversight responsibilities. Failure to provide requested documentation may lead to remedies for noncompliance and potential enforcement actions (see 8.5, Specific award conditions and remedies for noncompliance).

NIH expects recipients to ask potential subrecipients, at the application stage, to submit language in their letters of support indicating their awareness of these requirements and the subrecipient’s willingness to abide by all requirements should an award be issued.


Note that most of these requirements only apply to a recipient’s consortium relationships with sub-recipients. When the relationship is with a vendor that is providing routine goods and services within normal business operations that are ancillary to the operation of the research program, the public policy requirements listed below do not apply. The vendor must also be providing similar goods and services to many different purchasers and provide them in a competitive environment.

15.2.1 Written Agreement
The recipient must enter into a formal written agreement, signed, and agreed to by both parties, with each consortium participant/subrecipient that addresses the negotiated arrangements for meeting the scientific, administrative, financial, and reporting requirements of the grant, including those necessary to ensure compliance with all applicable Federal regulations and policies and facilitate an efficient collaborative venture. If a subrecipient is unwilling to accept the requirements outlined in this section, by signing a written agreement, then an agreement cannot be issued. At a minimum, this agreement must include the following: Note: All current requirements remain in place, with the addition of:

  • For foreign subrecipients, a provision requiring the foreign subrecipient to provide access to copies of all lab notebooks, all data, and all documentation that supports the research outcomes as described in the progress report, to the primary recipient with a frequency of no less than once per year, in alignment with the timing requirements for Research Performance Progress Report submission. Such access may be entirely electronic.

More information on NIH subawards can be found on their Subawards page and Subawards FAQ

Please note that NIH expects recipients to update existing foreign subaward agreements within 60 days of the effective date to address the requirements outlined in NOT-OD-23-182. Thus the policy will apply to ongoing and new projects. As becomes clear from the above special attention needs to be given to the set up of the written agreement and the handling of data/privacy issues. The latter especially as it concerns US-partners and this might mean additional work concerning SCC’s and DTIA etc. in order to be privacy compliant.

If you have any questions related to your project and/or agreement please contact the related support officer: 

  • for legal or agreement related questions please contact LURIS Legal.
  • for Data/Privacy questions please contact your local privacy officer.
  • for grant advice please contact your local grant advisor.

The Executive Board has decided to continue and even expand the Leiden Research Support Network during the coming four years.

This is a significant step for further strengthening research support within our university. With the Leiden Research Support programme we have together initiated a number of important changes and built a strong support network. We must further develop the excellent initiatives that have been started so that we can continue to support our researchers as fully as possible.

Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl is happy with the positive decision and looks forward to the next phase in the network. ‘It is crucial that we provide effective support for our researchers. Your contributions to this are extremely valuable. The Leiden Research Support Network is a great example of a learning community where you are able to find one another across the borders of the faculties and institutes, and where connections and collaboration are fostered. I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation of your work thus far and I look forward to seeing the network grow further over the coming four years.’ 

What does this decision mean for the future activities of the Leiden Research Support Network? With the network, we remain committed to sharing knowledge and strengthening our partnerships. We are also starting initiatives for professional development, and colleagues will work towards further developing support for collaboration projects, including interdisciplinary projects, and implementing research management tooling for research projects. More information about the future activities of the network will follow. 
 
If you have any ideas or suggestions for how the network can develop in the future, or if you have any questions, please get in touch with Dennis Janssen via lrs@bb.leidenuniv.nl or contact your own community manager.

Read the newsletter here. 

Read the newsletter here. 

The European call for tender (public tender) for research management tooling was published on 22 July. This tooling contributes to the long-term, professional and user-friendly support of grant applications and the budgeting, monitoring and accounting of research projects, including time sheets.

A number of suppliers of research management solutions have shown serious interest in the tender. We expect, by 22 September, several offers from which to choose. In order to make this choice objectively, the bids will be evaluated, based on criteria announced in advance, by an evaluation committee with representatives from different disciplines and faculties.

One of the evaluation criteria is the user-friendliness of the tooling. This will be tested in a demo environment provided by the suppliers. Besides the members of the evaluation committee, we would like to invite other colleagues for whom this is relevant or interesting to participate. 

Call for participation in the usability test
From the tender project group, we invite you to participate in the usability test. Participation in the test is possible from 25 September to 20 October. The test can be done individually and location independent, and will require an estimated time investment of two hours. Register before 22 September. 

Although everyone is welcome, we would like to make a special appeal to researchers who have experience in conducting externally funded research projects. We would like to test the usability of the offered solution on, among other things, registration of hours. Do you know researchers who might be interested? Please feel free to forward this call.
 
Please contact project manager Robbert Bosch to apply or for more information via: r.a.bosch@science.leidenuniv.nl, 06 45658881. 

Read the newsletter here. 

Anita Wagemaker is the grant coordinator in the Policy Support - Research department of the Faculty Office of FSW (Social & Behavioural Sciences) and a member of the Research Funding community within the network. She recently organised a Veni training day with the aim of ensuring that the candidates within FSW who are eligible for an NWO Veni grant receive the best possible support for their application. 

How does a Veni application work? 
‘Candidates who apply for an NWO Veni grant first need to submit a pre-proposal. On the basis of this, the definitive group of candidates who can then submit a full proposal is selected. In this round, NWO has decided that everyone within our domain who is selected to submit a full proposal will also be invited to an interview. This will involve giving a five-minute pitch, followed by a fifteen-minute Q&A with a panel. It’s quite a challenge, and you want to prepare the candidates as thoroughly as possible for it.’

Why did you decide to organise a Veni training day?
‘We ultimately had eight people in this round who were invited to an interview. Within the faculty, we provide candidates with individual support to make sure they’re as well-prepared as possible. In view of the number of candidates in this round, we decided to organise a training day for them. All the candidates responded enthusiastically to our invitation. They thought it was a great idea to meet colleagues who were facing the same challenge, and to learn from one another. It was an excellent group, and afterwards we received highly positive responses to this training day.’ 

What did the training day involve? 
‘We called in three external trainers for the day, and they gave the researchers a lot of suggestions and tips for feeling confident when going into the interview. The trainers helped the candidates to create the best possible presentation based on the core of the proposal and what you want to achieve with your research. And it’s not only what you say, but also how you give your presentation that’s important; so they provided some tips about using your voice and breathing, and also about what clothes to wear, for example, and the background for online presentations. Another trainer offered the candidates some coaching in the effective use of images and text in a PowerPoint presentation.’

Are there any other messages you would like to share? 
‘I will be very interested to hear the results of the applications, of course! And I really hope that the candidates don’t feel discouraged if the outcome isn’t what they want. They’ve already put in a fantastic performance. We know from experience that it pays to rewrite and resubmit a proposal, so please be persistent with your applications.’

First, please could you briefly introduce yourself? Who are you and what is your role within LRS/ the Leiden Research Support Network? 
‘My name is Mark Rutgers, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and chair of the steering group of the Leiden Research Support programme.’

An element within the LRS programme was setting up the Leiden Research Support Network. Why do you think it’s important that we have this network? 
‘Research support is an essential aspect of our university. The network is intended to make it easier for colleagues working in the area of support to find one another and exchange knowledge, in order to optimally support our researchers. There are many challenges and a high workload. We’re aiming to improve collaboration so that colleagues don’t have to constantly reinvent the wheel and can work together quickly and efficiently on answering researchers’ questions.’

You led the session about the network at the Leiden Research Support Conference. Which question do you remember most/ really made you think? 
‘First of all, I especially remember the participants’ enthusiasm about the work and the network. It was really good to see that colleagues from different faculties are getting together and collaborating on their area of expertise. One of the questions I received was whether the network is going to be continued. And I want to be very clear about this: yes, the university is going to continue with the network. I was also asked about the development of the profession and the differences in career opportunities between the various faculties and institutes. In my view, this is an area where we need to take a more uniform approach within the university.’ 

The LRS programme is ending this year, but the network will continue. What can we expect next year? 
‘We will use the Leiden Research Support Network in our ongoing efforts to create interactions and connections not only through the communities we have established, but also through monthly meetings that will be organised for the whole network. And we’ve scheduled another Leiden Research Support Conference for next year, of course, on 30 May 2024. The network will also be important in further development of the (virtual) research support offices, and extra attention will be given to supporting collaborative projects.’ 

What challenges do you see for the network in the years ahead? 
‘There are many challenges, such as the ever-growing set of requirements imposed by funders, and also the complex societal issues that call for an interdisciplinary approach, transcending the individual research institutes and faculties. At the same time, the workload of researchers and support professionals is high and will remain high. However, I feel sure that if we continue along the line of collaboration, together we will withstand these challenges.’ 

Are there any other messages you would like to share with the network/ research support professionals? 
‘The success of the network depends on the contribution made by each and every one of us. It’s essential that we don’t just have the input of support professionals and administrators, but also the active support of managers to encourage participation in the network. And we especially want you to use the network to inform colleagues and administrators about where you see challenges and opportunities.’ 

The university, as an entity itself, has registered in several databases and systems that are needed for submitting applications. This is required when researchers want to apply to mainly international funds. These registrations have become increasingly more complicated. Therefore at the beginning of 2023 the Back Office Registrations has been set up and opens this summer. The back office manages the registrations together with information on other relevant documentation. You can find all information on the university’s registrations through the Research Support Portal and at the university website on the ‘registrations page’. For support staff more in depth information is shared through the Research Funding Support community knowledge base.

Besides registrations, the back office will also support with signatures where the RfA and mandate rules are unclear. If you follow the RfA flowchart, this will become apparent. 

Research support colleagues can contact the Back Office Registrations at registrations@bb.leidenuniv.nl. The back office is coordinated by Zoë Elstrodt, Grant Development Team, SAZ.

The academic playing field is becoming more complex all the time, making a strong research support network crucial. Over 100 research support professionals shared knowledge, gained inspiration and became acquainted or got to know each other even better at the third Leiden Research Support Conference at PLNT. Read more

After preparatory work in 2022 with various colleagues within the Leiden Research Support Network the preparations have started last March for a European tender to acquire research management tooling to register, monitor and report on all externally funded research projects at our university.  

The research management tooling will help researchers and research support professionals with applying for research projects as well as with managing, financially administering and reporting on these projects. The idea is that everyone involved in managing research projects will be supported by using the tool and by adding or using the information that will be collectively gathered within the tool. This will save time to collect and find information and helps to maintain compliance on various aspects, including the financial reporting. 

The current planning is that a selection will be made after the summer and the implementation will start in the last quarter of this year, gradually onboarding all institutes. 

For questions or suggestions please contact the project lead Robbert Bosch via r.a.bosch@science.leidenuniv.nl

Researchers who are planning a research project often need to have specific contracts or legal documents approved and signed. These could be, for example, confidentiality agreements or contracts for sharing data or material, or (more frequently) documents that are needed when applying for grants, such as a declaration of intent or a declaration of honour.

It is important that both the researchers themselves and the research support professionals who assist them know what steps they must take to have these research-related contracts and grant documents approved and signed – and who should be contacted for this. To make this process more efficient, it was recently revised and simplified. A visual representation of this new procedure has also been developed, in the form of a handy flowchart. The next step will be to investigate how the process can be further automated using project management and other tooling.

Flowchart

You can find more information about the new procedure on the staff members page, where you can also view the flowchart. For each type of document, the flowchart clearly shows:

  • which research-related contracts and grant documents require legal evaluation;
  • which approvals must be obtained (using the Request for Approval form);
  • who is permitted to sign, according to the applicable Mandate Regulations.

Request for Approval form

The Mandate Regulations state who has the requisite power to sign legal documents on behalf of Leiden University. The Request for Approval form is used to arrange the internal approvals that are needed from the person with financial, legal, and substantive responsibility ahead of this step. The form can be found in the contract tool provided by LURIS, the University’s knowledge exchange office.

Questions?

You are welcome to ask your faculty or unit’s research support office for advice on the procedure and filling in the Request for Approval form. You will find information about research support at Leiden University and the relevant contact persons on Research Support Portal.

Read the newsletter here. 

On February 17th, the Research Project Managers community kicked off a series of Lunch&Learn meetings with a talk by Dr. Sara Cigna (Senior Business Developer LURIS) about valorisation at Leiden University. 14 Research Project Managers from across the university attended the meeting, and were very enthusiastic about the talk and the opportunity to meet each other.

Hi! My name is Claudia Forero, I started working since December 2022 at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) in The Hague. My position is European and International Grants Officer. I attended the Lunch&Learn meeting with the Project Managers in Leiden. This meeting was an open door to get to know Leiden's systems, to learn the existence of other communities and to know who actually is behind each subject. That day, I learned about Intellectual Property and how to go about it, this was completely new to me. The ambiance was friendly, informal and open to questions. I like these communities as I want to integrate myself to Leiden's ways of working and it is a relief to know that there is always someone there to help and share their experiences. Thank you for giving me this chance to bond and I hope I can contribute as well.

Seán McCarthy is a guru when it comes to European funding and training both researchers and research support professionals. It is a great honor that he will join the RFC Quarterly on the 20th of March. The goal of this Quarterly workshop is to design a modular training programme that will help engage researchers in collaborative research projects.

Quarterly meetings

Keeping in touch with each other as a community is essential. We exchange information on developments in the funding landscape, questions and best practices on preparing proposals and how to inform researchers. What started as a physical meeting every two weeks at Luris, became online during Covid. Also, during LRS the community of grant advisors has grown substantially to 34 members. Therefore is was jointly decided that it would be best to keep the online meeting, but have a physical meeting every three months tackling a special topic. And so the Quarterly was born. 

Collaborative research

What does collaborative research have to offer? Why should we engage researchers in collaborative projects? Although the individual grants (ERC, NWO Talent) are larger, it is a fact that there is more money available for collaborative research. It offers a gateway to create societal impact, but also fundamental research can be part of a project. Nevertheless, researchers struggle with interpreting the calls for funding and do not know how to start a consortium for collaboration. 

Interactive workshop to make a training programme

Together with Seán McCarthy we will focus on how we can help researchers to get started. It will be about designing trainings and events around the knowledge and tools that we have and that Sean McCarthy offers for researchers for 2023, but also about training ourselves as grant advisors to be experts and on how to recognize the challenges that researchers face. 

If you have any questions about this meeting please contact events@bb.leidenuniv.nl

Here you can see an overview of LRS events organised from 2020 to 2023.

2023

  • january 17 | Workshop | How to write a data management plan 
  • febuary 16 | Lunch & learn | Research Project Management community 
  • febuary 23 | LRS webinar: Lump Sum Funding - how to design a work package 
  • april 4 | LRS webinar  
  • may 8 | LRS live @Archeology 
  • june 5 | Leiden Research Support conference 

2022

  • febuary 1 |How Luris Supports Knowledge Translation 
  • febuary 5 | LRS live @FGW 
  • febuary 22 | LRS live @LIC 
  • june 14 | Leiden Research Support Conference 
  • september 26 | LRS live @FSW 
  • october 31 | Nationaal groeifonds: wat moet je weten?  
  • november 21 | LRS webinar: Research Support Knowledge base and Teams environment 
  • december 12 | LRS live @LAW

2021

  • january 22 | Speciale vrijdagmiddageditie LRS Café met Carel Stolker 
  • februari 25 | LRS Netwerk Café 
  • march 25 | LRS Netwerk Café 
  • may 27 | LRS Netwerk Café: Denk en doe mee: samen maken we een ijzersterk conferentieprogramma 
  • july 5 | workshop voorbereiding Leiden Research Support Conference
  • september 27, 28 and 29 | Hybride Leiden Research Support Conference 
  • november 23 | LRS online @FGGA 

2020

  • June to december |  LRS Café: every 3rd thursday of the month

On the 21st of November we will present our new Research Support Knowledge Base. During this webinar, we will give you a tour of our brand new platform for support staff, spanning several different support areas. This platform will provide you with a place to find each other, share knowledge, work together and ask questions with regards to research support. Want to learn more? Register here!

On 26 September we paid a visit to the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, where we learned more about the Support for Research, Laboratories and Education (SOLO) department, their role in supporting research and the broader cooperation among researchers within the Faculty. During a tour of the research facilities, the more daring among us were given the opportunity to experience for themselves what it is like to be a test subject in research.

LRS live @LAW
On 12 December we will be visiting the School of Law from 15:30 - 17:45, location: Oude Sterrewacht. Sign up here to take part.

Over the recent period, we have been building further on a strong Research Support Network. We know how to interact with each other better, so cooperating and exchanging knowledge and experience become much easier. The research support staff from the various domains together make up the Research Support Network.

The Research Support Network consists of research support staff at Leiden University. There are currently five communities active. Each community has a community manager who facilitates the group and promotes knowledge exchange. An overview of the network of community managers is given below.

As research support staff, you are part of the Research Support Network and possibly one or more domains. You’re probably curious to know what this means for you, and you will shortly receive more information from the community manager(s) of your domain(s). If you haven't yet received any information and want to know more, you can get in touch by sending an e-mail to lrs@bb.leidenuniv.nl.

“I've worked here nearly nine months now and this is the first occasion that time has really been taken to listen to me. I feel heard and helped." These were the words of a researcher at our university. She was a guest at De Tuin van de Smid for the advisory session during the final meeting of the first Trusted Adviser programme for research support staff

As a research supporter, you offer support to the researcher, give practical advice and try to persuade them to take or not to take a certain strategic step. What makes you a Trusted Adviser in addition to being an expert in the relevant field? Research shows that clients (in this case, internal clients such as researchers) rarely mention knowledge and expertise as the deciding factor; it is more about the trust they have in the adviser as a person. Trust is not a given, but it is something you can influence in many ways. It certainly has to do with content and presentation, but even more with emotion and motivation.

The 12 participants set to work in practical terms with these confidence-building factors. They practised with their own cases and looked at the various influencing styles. Afterwards, the participants looked back on a valuable programme. Chris Flinterman (research support officer): "I’ve found that the course helps me handle the advisory role with a lot more awareness. I now have a good framework to work from." Marian Csillag (senior lawyer): "I’ve learned that when I use a different counselling style, the other person's reaction also changes."

As well as strengthening their own advisory skills, getting to know each other is also mentioned as a positive outcome. Alisa Kerschbaum (adviser at ISGA, FGGA): "I’ve built a sustainable network because I now really do call people up and meet with them in person. Normally it would take years to get to know someone on this level."

The first Trusted Adviser programme has now concluded and has been evaluated. The second group will start in November.

We have updated the layout of the Research Support Portal. It is now easier for you to navigate the pages and find up-to-date contacts and information specifically related to your faculty and institute.

Check out the Research Support Portal

Complete, concise & current
More content from various support areas is now available on the portal in order to help you in the whole research process. You can also find the information you need more easily with clear & concise descriptions. Moreover, when you need further assistance, you will find the right contact persons from your faculty or institute.

Spread the word
While we continue improving the portal, we would also need your help. If you find the portal useful, please spread the word to your colleagues so that they can benefit from it too. The portal has been continuously developed by a dedicated team of colleagues. Do get in touch with the coordinator of the portal Errol Neo via researchsupportportal@leidenuniv.nl if you have suggestions for improvement or information to share with researchers through the portal.

Researchers and research support staff are increasingly dealing with digital methods of conducting research and processing data. To keep this safe and workable, more and more laws and regulations on research data and complex digital processes are coming into force. In addition, grant providers are imposing stricter demands on how research data is collected, processed, published and archived. The Leiden Digital Competence Centre (LDCC) was set up to manage this process and take full advantage of developments in digital research.

The LDCC aims to relieve both researchers and research support staff of some of the concerns relating to digital forms of research data. Data stewards, for example, receive advice in drawing up faculty data protocols derived from the Data Management Regulations. The LDCC, together with other Dutch universities, is committed to providing good digital services that researchers need in conducting scientific research. This also takes into account privacy, security and ethical issues.

The organisation is currently still under construction, but in the coming period will engage with researchers and support staff through various activities, pilots and projects. The LDCC is funded by NWO and the University. If you have any questions about the LDCC, please get in touch via ldcc@bb.leidenuniv.nl.

The Grant Development Office organised the two knowledge-sharing sessions for research support staff and researchers to exchange experiences and lessons learned about supporting NWA subsidies.

The NWA-ORC funding instrument is a highly popular and demanding subsidy. Its aim is to promote interdisciplinary research and innovation so that scientific and societal breakthroughs are facilitated. It requires researchers to involve the whole ‘knowledge chain’ of the research and to make the impact as tangible as possible.

During the session on 29 September, two successful principal investigators (PIs) talked about their experience with the NWA-ORC instrument and shared advice on submitting a proposal. Some of their tips: ‘You need to invest at an early stage in involving societal partners in your project and building on existing contacts of the 'core' consortium. It’s a good idea to try to work mainly with people that you like.’

Typical issues such as the theory of change, involving social and industrial partners and administrative quirks were also discussed during the sessions. A key observation was that the pace of preparation is high and everyone needs to be on board quickly to make their contribution to getting the best use of all the financial opportunities available.

Anke Klerkx, coordinator Grant Development Office: ‘It’s important to exchange knowledge between experienced and inexperienced colleagues and to see how the different areas of support, especially grant and financial advice, can further strengthen each other in working with researchers.'

If you as support staff have any questions about NWA-ORC of about the current or coming 2023/2024 funding round, please contact the Grant Development Office.

‘We can only achieve this if we work together.’ This is what Rector Magnificus Hester Bijl emphasised as she spoke about professional research support at the opening of the second Research Support Conference at PLNT on 14 June. For the 80 research support staff present, learning and inspiration was the main theme of a day full of best practices, knowledge exchange and inspiring workshops. Read more

There is now a single contact point for research support staff from the Faculties of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Humanities, and Governance and Global Affairs who have complex interdisciplinary questions about research data. This will make it easier to find answers to such questions.

The pilot was launched because it is becoming more common for researchers and research support staff to have questions about research data that cannot be answered from a single area of expertise. The questions are often about topics where account has to be taken of data management, privacy, security and ethical, academic and legal aspects.

Ask your question
If you have such a question and are a member of the research support staff at one of the faculties above, you use this form on the Helpdesk Portal to submit your question. A team of staff from different areas of expertise will provide an answer. Please note: staff from the other faculties cannot use this form because these faculties are not part of the pilot.

The pilot will run until the end of October 2022. The process will be evaluated afterwards.

International collaboration in academia brings not only opportunities but also risks. Take, for example, knowledge misuse or theft, ethical issues relating to the use of research results or interference that could influence our academic freedom. Not every discipline is an equal target for knowledge theft, external influence or illegitimate knowledge transfer. This makes it important to weigh up the opportunities and risks. To help you answer complex questions about knowledge security, we now have a Knowledge Security Helpdesk. You can contact the helpdesk with questions such as:

  • Can international collaboration also lead to illegitimate knowledge transfer?
  • Is there a risk of covert influence or academic freedom being undermined?
  • Are there ethical issues relating to the collaboration? For instance, could the research results be misused in the partner’s country?

Although the helpdesk is there for everyone’s questions, you should first discuss knowledge security with your manager, ethics committee or data steward. If you are still unsure, the helpdesk will be happy to help. If necessary, the helpdesk can also request information (which is not necessarily publicly available) from the government or intelligence service via the National Contact Point for Knowledge Security.

This Knowledge Security Helpdesk was set up following a decision by The Universities of The Netherlands that all of the Dutch universities should have such a helpdesk. Although it is not a direct result of the LRS programme, we would like to draw attention to the helpdesk, nonetheless.

Contact: adviespuntkv@bb.leidenuniv.nl

This Knowledge Security Helpdesk is not part of the LRS programme, but we would like to bring it to the attention of the Research Support Network. 

That Humanities encompasses more than just reading books was once again made clear during the visit to the Digital Lab and subsequent vid- and podcast room in the PJ Veth building. A lively panel discussion on research support provided room to connect and ask questions. Fortunately, there is still plenty to learn from one another. Hope to see you (again) at the next LRS on Tour on 17 May when we will visit the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences.

Read more in the news item. 

What does research support involve?

The first hybrid Leiden Research Support Conference – organised for and by research support staff – took place on 27, 28 and 29 September and focused entirely on organising effective research support. Read more

Read more in the news item. 

We're off! During the first meeting of LRS on Tour we took an online look behind the scenes of the research support staff at the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. A visit in person wasn’t possible, but you can also have a good working visit online. By paying working visits to different faculties, we can get to know one another and see how things are going with other support staff. Silviu Piros is Senior Grant Advisor at the Institute of Security and Global Affairs (ISGA) and he gave an interactive presentation on issues like creating a functional support network. The session ended with a fun and informative pub quiz.

The whole year on tour

LRS will be going on tour throughout the year. During the following LRS on Tour on 22 February 2022, we’ll be visiting the LIC. Put the date in your agenda now. More information will follow soon.

Sieger van den Aardweg is Knowledge Base Manager for the Grant Development Team at the Strategy and Academic Affairs Directorate, part of Administration and Central Services. He is working within the Leiden Research Support programme on tailored information provision, in collaboration with several institutes. Tailored information provision is a way to provide institutes with specific information about research grants and how to apply for them. Read more

Three years ago, the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) started a local contact point where researchers who had questions about grant applications could go for advice. Now, this contact point has evolved to become a local project office where a team of four colleagues work closely with the Grant Development Office, helping researchers with all their questions about grant support. What added value does this local project office have and where do its strengths lie? And how does it cooperate with the central Grant Development Office? We talked to Felix Wittleben and Angela Noble to find out more. As a project manager, Felix was involved in setting up the project office from the start. Angela works as Senior Grant Advisor for the University-wide Grant Development Office.

Local support structure
When Angela started at the University as Grant Advisor five years ago, she realised that there was very little exchange of knowledge between the faculties and institutes on grant support, and that there were a few local project offices where researchers could go with their questions. ‘From my role, I have tried to show the organisation that a local support structure has added value for researchers. I have shown, for example, that you acquire more subsidies when you focus on a number of specific projects rather than on a lot of projects at the same time. The LIACS Management Team (Aske Plaat, Thomas Baeck and Eline Huisjes) had already taken the first steps towards starting a local project office. This resulted in the arrival of Felix. I supported the project office in its further development. Since the project office opened, the number of successful grant applications has increased massively. We should all be very proud of this result.'

Learning and growing together
Felix: ‘I had a lot of support from Angela and the Grant Development Team when I was setting up the office. They gave me a nudge in the right direction to grow the project office. I was able to go to them with all my questions, so I never felt I was in it on my own.’ Angela: ‘What makes our field of work challenging is that there is such a broad range of grant opportunities, so each question or problem is unique. There’s no course or manual that tells you how you can offer researchers the best  support. You mainly learn on the work floor and by getting advice from colleagues and working on the issues together. Sometimes, it’s enough just to know that a colleague is facing the same challenges as you.’ Felix: ‘The Grant Development Team has a lot of experience and knowledge that we can use at local level. As an example, Angela introduced me to the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA) and ARMA-NL. These networks organise workshops and conferences that bring you into contact with colleagues from the same field of work. Angela: ‘Our team tries to support the different local project offices. We can give them specific information, help with monitoring the financial landscape, organise information meetings and courses for acquiring grants and we translate the information we gain into handy factsheets and guidelines.’

Putting the researcher first
To find out what the researchers need, Felix spent a lot of time investing in building a good working relationship at the start. ‘I tried to just meet the researchers directly and talk with them whenever possible. At the coffee machine, over lunch, but also in the hallway, or by always having my office door open, so that they could come into my office at any time and talk to me about anything. That way I had the chance to explain what the project office can do for researchers and how we can help them with their concerns. Because the focus is on the questions from the researchers, I am in constant contact with them, but also have an open door policy. I am available for the researchers when they need help. Also, it’s a very direct path for the researcher. They don’t need to remember who to contact for specific issues. We invite our researcher to come to us with anything and we try to find a tailor-made solution for them. That’s not possible with a central office only. At the local project office we are able to work within the same institute-specific work culture.‘ Angela has more tips for colleagues in a similar role: ‘Give the researchers the confidence that you can take work off their hands. The project office is sometimes seen as an office where you can dump administrative jobs. Also, try not to force the relationship with the researcher, but focus on what they want and need. They’re always more open for help when a grant application has just been rejected.'


Scientific director Prof. Aske Plaat and Prof. Thomas Bäck about setting up the project office at LIACS: “Setting up an institute-level project office that supports and manages all the steps – from identifying funding opportunities to supporting our scientists in writing, handling the formal steps (pre-award), making grant agreements, and then managing and supporting the implementation side of projects (post-award) – was an amazing step forward for our institute.”

Building a Research Support Network
Angela: ‘I’m really pleased that within Leiden Research Support (LRS) we are now working with research supporters and researchers to build a Research Support Network within the University. That’s the best way for us to learn and grow together. When I first came to the University, I was amazed that there was hardly any cross-communication among the faculties and institutes. Luckily that communication has grown enormously over the past two years and more local project offices are being set up. We and the Grant Development Team now organise a meeting every two weeks with all the Grant Advisors from the whole University. That way you can share with colleagues the issues you are coming up against and ask all the questions you want. In our field of work it’s important to have a network, otherwise you’re having to deal with issues completely on your own.’

Are you interested in starting a local project office within your faculty or institute? For more information, please contact Dennis Janssen, program manager LRS.

See also

What does a 4-year trainee research assistant’s position cost? How much money is available for purchasing equipment or publishing research results? These and many other questions can arise when the project plan is being converted into the required project budget. A budgeting module has now been developed to make the process of setting a project budget as efficient as possible.

The budgeting module allows the project control support staff to easily calculate the project budget for several common grant applications. Each organisation’s preferences and requirements have been incorporated in the module during its development. One example of this is a budget summary for researchers. Both the grant contribution and Leiden University’s own contribution (where relevant) are automatically shown in the project budget. Handy options from various Excel budget formats that were used within the University have been combined in the module, which greatly improves efficiency. On top of that, the budgeting module also saves time because the project budget is automatically displayed in the funding organisation’s format (for the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Innovational Research Incentives Scheme and EU ERC).

From the academic year 2021-2022, the budgeting module is the standard format within the University for setting project budgets for NWO, EU and Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) grants. On September 10 a new version of the module is supplied to the project control support staff.

The budgeting module has the following advantages:

  • Efficiency has been greatly improved by combining handy options from various budget formats;
  • The HR costs for common grants, such as NWO, EU and RVO, are automatically calculated at the current rates (based on stated FTE/scales/period);
  • A summarised budget overview is available for researchers (in the new update from September);
  • The project budget is automatically displayed in the funding organisation’s format (NWO Innovational Research Incentives Scheme/EU ERC).;
  • Together with the grant contributions from external funding organisations, Leiden University’s own contributions (where relevant) are automatically shown.

Researchers who wish to set a project budget are welcome to contact the project control support staff within their own faculty/unit.

How do you persuade and activate a colleague to sort out the time sheets? Or instil information about laws and regulations relating to research projects, and the responsibilities they involve? The Influencing in one day training course gave 19 participants a better understanding of how to increase their influence. The course was provided by Schouten & Nelissen for the Leiden Research Support (LRS) programme.

Influencing
Influencing is a process that involves steering things where you want them to go without using force. You set in motion a change in the other person’s views or behaviour. This is usually an unconscious process, but the more conscious you are of this process, the better you can use your influencing skills to your advantage. As a member of the research support team (in financial or other areas), it’s important to provide guidance in managing the project portfolio. A necessary element here is activating your colleagues. While this might be quite easy for the start-up of a project, for example, it can be quite a challenge for other issues, such as compliance with mandatory guidelines.

Push and pull processes

Influencing occurs in many different situations, consciously or not. A good example is when you introduce yourself. In a first interview, you make deliberate choices about what information you include and how you convey it. You can also add some small pointers during the interview, for instance about what motivates you, to make your message more attractive to the listener. But along with the message itself, your voice and non-verbal communication are also important factors in creating the total impression. A further distinction can be made in terms of which ‘power’ (influencing strategy) you use: your intellectual power (reasoning), will power (encouraging), emotional power (investigating) or belief power (inspiring). These four strategies form the basis of the push and pull processes that together comprise influencing.

Online influencing
Now that we’re mainly working online, and often from home, using the four influencing strategies requires extra attention. For example, the position of your camera, the background that other people see and your internet connection. The participants explored the various challenges that arise with an online meeting.

Quote from a participant: “There’s a lot on offer in the candy store called influencing. Looking at your work in this way is an inspiration for me, and I go back to it every time life starts to feel complicated.”

Practising in practical situations
During the training course, the participants went into separate breakout rooms to practise their use of the various influencing strategies. They were given specific practical examples that allowed them to immediately apply the theory in this test environment. Switching between playing the role of influencer, recipient and observer, they gained more insight into the effect of using influencing strategies in practical situations. At the end of the course, the participants were given the assignment to use the various strategies in practice. A follow-up session will be held, where they will discuss their findings.

Would you like to know more about influencing?
You can take a free online training course (in Dutch) about influencing via the University. The course is provided by New Heroes
 and you can start immediately, using your own ULCN account to log in.

Does your research team need large storage quotas, and work collaboratively with other educational and governmental institutions? Research Drive is a shared-storage environment specifically designed for these requirements.

Research Drive is a national, cloud-based, shared storage service, designed for collaborative teams and offered and supported by SURF. It was demonstrated to Leiden University Data Management Network members in January 2020, and then introduced as a pilot service for a number of Leiden research groups during 2020-2021. A data steward within the group (or project) is responsible for organizing the data, managing group membership and accessing the data. Research Drive is available everywhere. 

Pilot of 3 months

Beginning in February 2022, a 3 month pilot will be run with the Humanities, Social Sciences and Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs. This pilot is a part of the Leiden Research Support (LRS) Project focussed on creating an integrated approach to compliance and ethics support (LRS Project 7). This pilot aims to create a process whereby support staff can easily and efficiently receive answers to these interdisciplinary questions. Support staff from the three faculties will have access to a point on the Leiden Helpdesk where they can submit these questions. Questions submitted to the Point of Contact will be picked by an interdisciplinary working group. Answers to the questions will be provided directly to the support staff member who submitted the question but will also be turned into generalised advice/knowledge for support staff across all faculties. 

Aim of the pilot

The aim of the pilot is to:

  1. Test out this way of working to streamline the process of getting answers to complex questions.
  2. Gain insight into the types of questions researchers and staff face.
  3. Ensure that the best advice to novel questions is made available to all support staff. 

At the end of the 3 months the pilot team will conduct an evaluation. Based on this decisions will be made about the continuation. 

More information or comments

For more information or comments please contact Joanna van der Merwe, Project Lead Integrated Support on Compliance and Ethics.

Perhaps you’ve already met Johan Verweij? He’s the new project leader of the Research Infrastructure Access and Support subproject. This subproject is part of the Leiden Research Support (LRS) programme. Who knows, you may find yourself discussing this with him soon. The aim of this subproject is to make it easier for researchers to access our existing research infrastructure.

Begin with a clear definition

In the near future, Verweij will be talking to researchers, policy officers, information managers, directors and other stakeholders to gain a clearer picture of what is happening at our university with regard to the research infrastructure. This will enable him to come up with a definition, which would be very useful. Then we’ll know what we are talking about. Verweij will then look at whether the existing lists of the infrastructure at Leiden University and the LUMC are kept up to date. So there’s plenty to do in the near future.

Talk to the project leader

Johan Verweij has worked for the past seven years as an executive secretary and head of the Faculty of Humanities policy department. He has been seconded to the Strategy and Academic Affairs Directorate. ‘I love taking on new things and improving the collaboration and coordination between the different parts of a university. I’m pleased to be spending the coming year doing that for the Leiden Research Support programme,’ Verweij says. You may have already spoken to him. But you can always plan a meeting yourself. If you have any questions, expertise or suggestions, arrange to meet him via  j.a.verweij@bb.leidenuniv.nl. He’d love to hear your findings.

More info about this subproject?

See the webpage on this subproject: Research infrastructure access and support

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