Open Proposals: Collaborative Space for Research Community


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CTSA Toolshop Presentation on crowdsourcing ideas and proposal development at biomedical institution. Insights from 5 years of practicing. Open Proposals Collaboation Tool

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  • The Clinical & Translational Science Institute (CTSI) facilitates the translation of research to improvements in health. CTSI provides infrastructure, services, and training to support clinical and translational research. Oksana Gologorskaya, Product Manager for the Virtual Program here at CTSI. I manage technology products that support various initiatives in translational research, including Open Proposals. I studied applied math then worked as a software engineer and designer for about 13 years, in tech industry,before joiningUCSF as a product manager.
  • This presentation will be about the new collaborative approach to developing proposals for academic initiatives. It started as an internal experiment with social media and crowdsourcing model and turned into a service and a supporting technology used to support various projects at UCSF. We believe it has enough value and we learned enough about it to be worth sharing with other institutions and hopefully some of you will get inspired to try this approach in your institution.
  • First a bit of theory, then I will share some practical insights.In Academia research funding is often distributed via the RFP mechanism that intends to collect and select the best ideas available for a given opportunity.RFP process is commonly used for other kinds of initiatives – infrastructure improvements, innovation projects. Traditionally, it is a black box approach.
  • This diagram is a simplified research grant submission process (NIH Grant).Every horizontal line here is a separate proposal team. Proposals that end up getting an award are shown in orange, and the purple ones are those that do not get an award.From a proposal team’s perspective, everything happens during the first phase – they put in as much time as possible to make their proposals perfect, then submit. Then they just wait to hear back. If you don’t make it through the peer review, you may not even know why exactly your proposal was rejected. And you also don’t know what your proposal was competing against. So in this process all people that submit proposals are just a bunch of competitors for the same award.
  • Now imagine there is also a friendly professional community that wants your proposal to win. What if you include this community in the process, kind of like this…
  • So you add a social phase to the process.Again, purple lines indicate non-winning proposals, and orange lines are the winners.Little black arrows are the community members contributing to proposals. This diagram shows a few possible scenarios.1) Uncompetitive proposal – drop out early and go prepare for the next round.2) Two similar proposals decide to combine their projects into one and submit one proposal, instead of competing with each other.3) a non-winning proposal was strengthened by community input or team member and turned into a winning one.4)The quality of each submitted proposal improves because authors see the level of other proposals submitted.With this structure, you can see that it is more time-efficient for proposers than black box approach. It is also more efficient for the reviewers as they don’t get to review some uncompetitive proposals, and also they get a higher quality bottom line.
  • From the Proposal Author’s perspective, the second step in the process makes all the difference – it is where the proposal may change, the people collaborating on it may change and even the decision to submit the proposal may also change based on the situation in the community.Now let’s see how this theory works in practice.
  • -not only it went mainstream, but businesses realized that they could use it to connect with the customers and grow business
  • First practical application – a 2009 strategic planning forum.CTSI wanted to prioritize projects for the next year and the leadership decided to host an open forum on the CTSI’s website. It was a success – some of the ideas submitted have come to life as complete projects and some grew into bigger programs and services.
  • In terms of technology, it was really minimalistic: a section on the website, with basic features like adding posts, comments and voting to support ideas.
  • Second use case – using the open forum to collect ideas for applying for an external grant.11 of the 53 ideas proposed were included as renewal initiatives.
  • Here comes first practical insight - in order for the approach to work, you need to meet certain starting conditions.Collaborative audience, motivations to participate and support from the top (leaders should say this is the only way to participate in the opportunity). Otherwise, people will just send their ideas the way they are used to.
  • Third use case is interesting because we added something to the process that influenced level of participation.It was a funding opportunity to improve methods of research. CTSI was the sponsor so we had the freedom to change the process.We got 28 ideas and 292 comments from community.
  • The boost in participation happened because of how the process was designed and how it was managed.We added a requirement for each proposal owner to comment on another proposal in order to be considered for funding. Also, we added this first submission deadline to make sure people share their proposal with community early enough, to allow time for community to contribute.In addition, the opportunity manager was constantly communicating with the audience to remind them about deadlines and to do some match making between proposals and potential contributors.
  • As a result, we’ve seen all the scenarios that our theoretical model suggested: some proposals were improved, people got to work together for the first time, and also, some proposals were withdrawn early.There was a case when someone proposed to build a solution for a problem with a research method. A community member commented on the proposal to point out to already existing solution the proposer did not know about. So they withdrew their proposal.
  • (comments required)Time driven process(reminders, matchmaking)
  • My next use case is about the first use outside of out own department – external customer, cross campus initiative, competing against other solutions.
  • Email = black boxSalesforce Chatter is nice, kind of like FB for employees, and we have this great arrangement with Salesforce at UCSF, but 1) not web 2.0 savvy people would have a learning curve 2) UI is branded for SF and your organization – UCSF – but not so much for the specific opportunity.
  • Branding is importantYou can see right away who is sponsoring the opportunity, and it hopefully invites people to trust it with their ideas.
  • It looks and feels like a separate website, without extra noise, it is all about a given opportunity. Simple and structured enough, not too casual.
  • Summary of Proposals page allows both Reviewers and Proposers to quickly scan through all proposals, see the current stats of the forum.You can also export this summary data or generate a document with all the proposals to read through off-line.
  • It was not al there yet – but we built it on Drupal
  • Back to case study
  • Case study 4 – a hard learning.
  • We looked at the reasons for this negative outcome, and it turned out thatPeople thought it was a popularity contest - they thought proposals would be judged by the number of comments they getProposals were submitted when they were quite mature already, that left little room for feedback.The sponsors or organizers did not believe in the process and did not work with the audience to encourage collaboration.
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • The tool is designed to enable collaborative, transparent proposal development and submission processDesigned specifically for academic RFP processes.Time-driven processAutomated notifications
  • Access to collaborative community is one thing, another thing is how to encourage collaboration.Depending on the opportunity, there could be direct and indirect ways to do it. Setting aside some type of awards for valuable contributors, with some tokens of appreciation could be helpful. Also educating the community about the benefits of participating.
  • Transparent process helps build credibility for the sponsorCollaborative space – another way to find collaborators and meet peersEfficiency – saves time for all
  • Open Proposals: Collaborative Space for Research Community

    1. 1. Open Proposals: A Pre-Competitive Interactive Space for Research Community Oksana Gologorskaya, M.Sc. Product Manager, Virtual Home Program, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, University of California, San Francisco
    2. 2. Learning Objectives “Crowdsourcing” ideas and proposal development at biomedical institution Insights from 5 years of practicing Open Proposals Tool Demo Invitation to collaborate
    3. 3. Harvesting Ideas in Academia Request for Proposals
    4. 4. RFP Timeline
    5. 5. Imagine a friendly community…
    6. 6. Add “social” phase to the process
    7. 7. What is different? Proposal Ideas are shared with community before they are submitted Everyone knows what everyone else is proposing Anyone in community can comment on the ideas Valuable contributors can join proposal teams Proposal teams can merge
    8. 8. Open Proposal Process Share Online Discuss & Improve Submit for Review See Everyone’s Results
    9. 9. First Open Forum  18 ideas  41 comments
    10. 10. First Open Forum: Implementation  Section on existing Drupal website  Simple features:  Post ideas  Comment  Vote  Anonymous participation ok
    11. 11. 2009 UCSF CTSI Grant Renewal  High stakes: ideas for $112 M grant  53 ideas  47 comments  We got the grant!
    12. 12. Practical Insight 1: Starting Conditions Collaborative audience Non-$ motivations to participate Support from the top
    13. 13. UCSF CTSI Pilot Awards 2012  28 ideas  292 comments
    14. 14. Participation Increased. Why? 18 27 53 19 28 41 39 47 6 290 2009 2009 2009 2010 2012 Open Forums Participation 2009-2012 Proposals Comments
    15. 15. Behaviors Observed: Proposals improved Connections made between participants Proposals withdrawn
    16. 16. Practical Insight 2: Process Matters 18 27 53 19 28 41 39 47 6 290 1 2 3 4 5 Open Forums Participation 2009-2012 Proposals Comments Design process to encourage participation Manage the audience
    17. 17. First Non-CTSI Challenge 2012 UCSF IT Innovation Contest Target Audience: All Staff & Faculty Competing against other solutions
    18. 18. Solutions Considered Email Salesforce Chatter Open Proposals
    19. 19. UCSF Open Proposals Tool Custom Branding for Opportunity Sponsor
    20. 20. UCSF Open Proposals Tool Standalone, easy to use space for discussions
    21. 21. UCSF Open Proposals Tool Transparent & efficient process
    22. 22. Open Proposals Provided: Transparent & efficient process Standalone space for discussions Easy to use Custom branding for sponsor
    23. 23. IT Contest 2012 - Results 48 proposals, 5 awarded 73 people posted 216 comments Withdrawn/merged proposals: 1 517 unique visitors in active phases
    24. 24. A Hard Learning Department of Medicine Funding Patient Cohorts 2012 Funding to allocate: $200,000 Target audience: DOM Faculty (~620) Collaborative opportunity: reusing patient cohorts
    25. 25. DOM Funding Patient Cohorts 2012 - Results 14 proposals, 2 awarded 30 people posted 66 comments Withdrawn proposals: 1 431 unique visitors in active phases
    26. 26. Surprising Feedback Opportunity Sponsors: “We won’t use it again” End Users: – Overall experience: 2-dissatisfied / 6 – neutral / 7 - satisfied – Proposal impact: 2- improved / 7 – no change / 2- worsened – Team impact: 2- added team members
    27. 27. Practical Insight 3: Supportive Sponsor, Engaged Community Make sure the audience understands the process (no, it is not a popularity contest) Early ideas have more room for feedback than fully baked proposals The audience will not engage without Sponsor’s support
    28. 28. Other types of opportunities that benefited from OP Building Community to Revamp Medical School’s curriculum Department Strategic Planning Administrative Process Improvements
    29. 29. UCSF Open Proposals Tool  Standalone Drupal Website  Integrated with UCSF Single Sign On  Optional IP restricted access  Linked with UCSF Profiles
    30. 30. UCSF Open Proposals UI
    31. 31. 1 3 2 5 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 UI: Forum Space 1. Sponsor branding 2. Opportunity title/subtitle 3. Intro text – opp. description 4. Opportunity timeline 5. Proposals main feed 6. Forum menu 7. My Proposals shortcut 8. Topic filter 9. Activity feeds 10.Footer menu 11.Search
    32. 32. 1 3 2 4 UI: Proposal Page 1.Proposal title 2.Proposal view tabs 3.Proposal info 4.Proposal body
    33. 33. 1 3 2 4 UI: Adding Proposal 1.Instructions / format requirements 2.Title (required) 3.Taxonomy fields 4.Primary author – if proposal is submitted for someone else
    34. 34. 5 7 6 8 UI: Adding Proposal 5. Proposal body 6. Multi-file attachments 7. Single file attachment 8. Post (submit) button 9. Preview button 9
    35. 35. Automation: Updates and Subscriptions Proposal authors and commenters are automatically subscribed to the updates on their proposal Forum visitors can “Follow” the forum or its selected proposals
    36. 36. Key Ingredients for Success Process Tool Engaged Community Supportive Sponsor
    37. 37. Challenges How to engage community? – Intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation for community reviewers Community balance Narrow enough to remain relevant and collaborative Wide enough to provide valuable input
    38. 38. Benefits of Open Proposals Open, transparent process Collaborative space Efficiency Better teams Better proposals
    39. 39. Less Obvious Benefits Reviewers get not only proposals but also community’s reaction that may inform them as well Every idea is captured and stays there (usually online) forever… Active participants build relationships and get noticed
    40. 40. Winning proposals draw more attention 0 5 10 15 20 25 IT Innovations Contest OpenSocial Gadget Contest DOM Patient Cohorts RFA Funding Shared Equipment RFA CHV Caring Wisely Initiative 2013 CTSI Annual Pilot Awards Funding Shared Equipment RFA… UCSF Coursera Course CFP CTSI 2016 NIH Renewal Launchpad 2013 IT Innovations Contest DOM 2013 Strategic Planning CHV Caring Wisely 2 Initiative 2014 Innovations Funding for… SOM Dean's Office Bureaucracy… Average comments for winning proposal Average comments for other proposals
    41. 41. Avg. # Comments, All Forums Winning vs. Non Winning Proposals 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Avg. comments per proposal Winning Non Winning
    42. 42. UCSF Open Proposals Today  23 forums Since launch in 2012  700+ proposals  18,000+ visitors  $ 4,000,000+ funding distributed  Shared with 2 institutions
    43. 43. What’s Next? Research Administration, Infrastructure, Strategic Planning Collaborative Research Opportunities
    44. 44. Thank You UCSF Open Proposals is managed by the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award program funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (Grant Number UL1 TR000004) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
    45. 45. Special Thanks Mini Kahlon and Clay Johnston, for introducing the idea and making it come to life To Brad Bulger, for building the tool To Cynthia Piontkowski, for creating the tool’s people friendly side To Leslie Yuan, for support and inspiration, and winning decisions
    46. 46. Special Thanks To Rachael Sak, for figuring out tricky details of the process and making it a success when most people were skeptical To Lisa Schoonerman, for help with winning hesitant new customers and for invaluable practical insight To Anirvan Chatterjee, for the most creative ideas for the tool and its introduction to the bigger world, and for huge help with this presentation
    47. 47. It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. Napoleon Hill, one of the great writers on success
    48. 48. Publication on Open Proposals cts.12147/full
    49. 49.  * GitHub Project (ask us for access):    Contact Us
    50. 50. Media Credits Noel Hidalgo, Hand made "like us on Facebook" sign. , Flickr Kfergos, Abstract Lights , Flickr Sasha Gologorskaya, Friends, Everyday Photos Ren Kuo, Dreamcatcher, Flickr