North Central supports research that addresses a particular regional problem within
a high-priority research area. The research program should identify measures
for documentable progress within a five‐year frame. The researcher must clearly
define progress and identify specific goals related to solving the problem.
NCRA develops requests for proposals that identify both specific and
general research priorities within seven cross‐cutting areas that include the research goals
forwarded by the NCRA committees. These are the only areas that will be funded.
However, the NCRA depends on the NCA committees to annually review the research
areas and suggest changes as appropriate to the regional research mission.
The region encourages development of
broad, multidisciplinary research programs that address complex problems
amenable to coordinated research. For example, all projects should consider
economics and social components as well as biological and physical science
components (also see the discussion on multistate below).
A goal of prioritizing is to build on
the specific research strengths of individual states, and to blend these
strengths into cooperative and complementary research programs that capitalize
on regional inputs. These research programs are regional because it is unlikely
that any single state has the entire set of research components needed to
address the breadth of a regional program. The current condition of most land
grant institutions—downsizing, or at best, in a no-growth mode—dictates
capitalizing on the strengths of individual Experiment Station programs by
Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA, 1993) mandates that all federally
sponsored research include both performance indicators and performance
measures. Potential milestones or indicators of progress should be identified,
and accountability must be measured in these terms. This enhances reporting and
input to the required GPRA process as well as strengthens the NCRA knowledge
base about our regional research programs.
Every multistate program must be able to
show how the proposed research will contribute to society. Each program should
clearly identify measureable impacts and expected outcomes that will result
from the research.
NCRA prioritization process will enable us to demonstrate that we are using our
research resources wisely and enhance our ability to increase research support.
Funds are finite, however, and growth is unlikely. Successful regional research
programs can greatly expand opportunities to leverage support from other
federal or state agencies as well as private sources. Multistate research proposals
should discuss the role of outside funding in the current proposal and the
likelihood of future leveraged support if the proposal is successful. The
Office of Agricultural Research can provide funds for travel to attend annual
multistate research meetings. However, given the limited funds available each
multistate committee must seek extramural funds to support its research
Information and technology
Every project must demonstrate how its
results will be delivered to the user—researcher, Extension agent, industry,
program, suburban resident, etc. A project does not cease with the completion
of field or lab research. The dissemination of information is important to the
enabling or implementation process by the constituency, the public image of the
State Agricultural Experiment Stations,
and the Government Performance and Results Act process.