Admin Burden in Canada/Defining Success


How do we articulate what success looks like – or how we will define and measure the impact (success) of the ABC initiative?

Framing the Discussion

Objective - Reducing undue administrative burden within the Canadian research life-cycle.

Approach Modality

  • Deep engagement of research performing organizations in diagnosis of the major points of undue admin burden and identification of forward strategies
  • Coordination of diverse partners to address the problem in a balanced and sustainable way
  • Acknowledgement of the role of, and changes required by, both research performing and research funding organizations in collectively addressing admin burden

Thematic Thrusts

  1. Personnel Recruitment: e.g. international recruitment, work permits, etc
  2. Program Design: e.g eligibility, applications, deadlines etc
  3. Financial Compliance: reporting, monitoring and audit
  4. Non-Financial Compliance: e.g human and animal ethics, controlled goods, etc
  5. Post Award Management: e.g. negotiation of funding agreements, inter-institutional transfers, project changes
  6. Reporting: Progress/Performance/Impact
  7. Scholarly Communications: e.g. open access, open data

Defining and Measuring Success

Our approach to articulating success and possible measures of success involved developing a “logic chart” that models the inputs, activities, outputs, outcomes and ultimate impacts of the initiative. Among the key benefits of such an exercise are:

  • It provides clarity on what is intended and how we hope to get there by deconstructing complex initiatives into their component parts.
  • It helps identify if the initiative design is actually logical – e.g. if the planned activities lead logically to the intended impacts, including
    • Where there may be gaps in inputs or activities;
    • Where there are external factors that cannot be controlled or easily influenced;
    • Where additional actions may be required to achieve the end objective.
  • It frames the development of performance metrics.

This approach was reviewed and strongly supported by the ABC Steering Committee at its January 27, 2016 meeting.

Logic Chart

While agreed in its current form, the logic chart should be viewed as “evergreen” and subject to updating based on experience.

Inputs Activities Outputs Outcomes Impacts
CASRAI Secretariat as convener and resource Identification of overall matrix of admin burden issues that could be potential targets for change New tools that facilitate efficiency and effectiveness in research and research management Less duplication of effort in applying for, managing and reporting on grants and contracts Reduction in undue admin burden for researchers
Key stakeholder engagement among research performers Designation of limited number of priority targets and desired end state Identification and sharing of best practices for institutional research administration More automated (less manual) approach to managing the research enterprise Reduction in undue admin burden for research managers
ISED coordinated funding agency partnership group and engagement Development of, and agreement on, strategies and tactics to address targeted issues Streamlined processes within research performing and funding organizations Implementation of shared tools and sustainable collective effort by the institutions and stakeholders Increased efficiency of research management
Standard protocols and best practices for developing harmonization across multiple stakeholders Collaborative approach to implementation Harmonization and adoption of common approaches (e.g. standards) among funders Improved data quality and accessibility for research performers and funders Less friction within the research ecosystem