Personalized research support: University Research Facilitators boost grant success

The word “enterprise” is no exaggeration when it comes to describing the modern university research program: from grant writing and award administration to regulatory compliance, reporting and managing the use of funds, today’s researchers are part of a vast, complex operation with many moving parts.

Enter the Research Facilitator, one of the best tools universities can offer their researchers for navigating the ins and outs of successful grantsmanship. 

Thanks to the federal Research Support Fund, this role is being filled at Lakehead University by Dr. PhebeAnn Wolframe, the new SSHRC/CIHR Research & Knowledge Mobilization Facilitator in the Office of Research Services.  

Available specifically to faculty members in the social sciences and humanities at both the Thunder Bay and Orillia campuses, Wolframe is a welcome resource for information and support on attaining increasingly competitive publicly funded research awards. 

“Since the position was established in July 2011, Lakehead University has seen its grant success rate increase to meet national levels for the first time,” says Anne Klymenko, Director, Research Services. “Furthermore, in Dr. Wolframe’s new role, she’s able to help researchers with the full spectrum of resources needed for successful grant writing, from identifying opportunities, application development, review and editing, to partnership development with academic, community and non-profit collaborators, through to knowledge mobilization of research and results.”

Wolframe is also leading the development of Lakehead's SSHRC Enhancement Program, a series of workshops to encourage and support researchers who are preparing applications to SSHRC, with the ultimate goal of increasing overall success rates. 

As an experienced researcher, writer, editor and fundraiser herself, Wolframe is brings a particular skillset in helping researchers tell the story about their work in ways that are clear and compelling for both grant review committees and the broader public off campus.

“Real knowledge mobilization goes beyond just conference presentations and publications in academic journals,” says Wolframe, who recently completed a Knowledge Translation Professional certificate program to further develop her skills in this critical area. “A key part of my role here at Lakehead is brainstorming creative and customized ways for each researcher to get the word out about what they’re doing and requesting funding for, to showcase the impact we’re having out in the world.”

  The Research Support Fund is a federal funding program for post-secondary institutions in Canada to support some of the costs associated with managing research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. In 2017/18, Lakehead University is receiving nearly $2 million in assistance from the Research Support Fund to support the indirect costs of research, including intellectual property, research management and administration, ethics and regulatory compliance, research resources, and research facilities.