Monthly Update From the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development

  May 2017



Changes Coming to the IRB Protocol Submission Process

As part of its ongoing effort to improve the RazorGrant electronic research administration system, the office of the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development will be rolling out a new, online Institutional Review Board (IRB) submission process in August. The IRB is the body that ensures researchers use safe, ethical practices when engaging in research involving human subjects.

Our office will provide two training opportunities for researchers to familiarize themselves with the new system. The first is an overview and walk through of the process, scheduled for August, for people who are already comfortable using RazorGrant. For investigators with protocols ready to submit, we are also offering hands-on training with the new online system in September and October.

Look for more details on the new IRB system on the Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development’s website, and watch for announcements closer to the rollout.


Room Use Survey in Progress

The VPRED’s office is meeting with department chairs and research deans to assess the quality of data in the Room Use Survey System (RUSS) as it relates to research space across campus. During our on-site visits, we are discussing quality of research space, and whether there is enough available to meet the current needs of faculty, graduate students, undergraduate researchers, post-docs and visiting scientists. We also want to assess space availability for incoming faculty in Fall 2017, as well as our ability to accommodate future faculty, post-docs and graduate students. To date we have met with primary units in Arts and Sciences that have significant dedicated research space, and will meet with units in Engineering in May, followed by meetings with units in Education and Agriculture.


Research Website Has a New Look

Research Frontiers, the website for research news at the University of Arkansas, has a fresh new look and improved functionality. In addition to news, the site features blogs, a sample of recent grants, a podcast showcasing U of A scientists, and a Field Notes section that follows students and faculty on their research summer travels. Take a look!

 Researcher's Corner

How to Spot a Predatory Journal

By Melody Herr

Melody Herr

An invitation from an editor who promises swift publication in a journal with an impressive title seems flattering. But beware! This complimentary email may be a lure, drawing you into the jaws of a predatory journal.

A respectable journal serves a community and strives to ensure that it publishes only quality research. Its editors and editorial board members have significant expertise, and each article undergoes rigorous peer review. A predatory journal, in contrast, doesn't require peer review, and it publishes almost anything because it exists solely to maximize profits from author fees.

Over the past several years, exploiting the demand that researchers publish prolifically, this rapacious industry has boomed. According to an estimate quoted in Nature, the number of predatory journals now equals the number of legitimate journals. This alarming trend not only threatens to dilute the scientific record with flawed papers and undermine public respect for the research community. It also threatens the credibility of individual researchers who naïvely publish their valuable work in an unsanctioned journal.

Before submitting your work, make sure that the journal passes these tests:

  • Is the journal indexed by the Journal Citation Reports or the Directory of Open Access Journals? Both JCR and DOAJ insist that a listed journal adhere to best practices for scientific and scholarly publishing.

  • Does the journal have a professional-looking website? Is the English correct, with correct spelling and grammar? Are the images crisp? Does the website include information about peer review and copyright policy?

  • Can you find the editorial board members on the web? Is their institutional affiliation listed correctly? Are they qualified to evaluate research in this field?

  • Can you locate recent issues of the journal? Has it published relevant, high quality research by recognized authorities at respected institutions?

For additional assistance with assessing a journal, see Think. Check. Submit and the guidelines provided by the World Association of Medical Editors.

If you think the journal might be predatory, do not submit your work. You can block future invitations by setting your email program to route the sender's messages to your “junk mail” folder. “Microsoft Office 365 tracks email which individual users mark as “junk;” when several users so identify a sender, Microsoft automatically blocks messages before they enter the U of A system. You can also report a predatory invitation to University Information Technology Services can block the sender's email and IP address from the system.

Don't throw your valuable research to the lions! Seek a quality, respected journal which will handle your work with professionalism and showcase it among with the work of your peers.

— Melody Herr is the Head of the Office of Scholarly Communications.



$571,335 from the National Science Foundation to Jeffrey Lewis, assistant professor in the biological sciences department, to study the role of protein acetylation in stress defense.

204 from the National Science Foundation to Michael Ceballos, to study the biology and biodiversity from indigenous America to indigenous Mekong.

from the National Science Foundation to W. Art Chaovalitwongse, professor and 21st Century Research Leadership Chair in industrial engineering, to develop a decision model for patient-specific motion management in radiation therapy.

from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Daniel Rainey, associate professor of agricultural economics, for the Ag Econ Scholars Mentoring Program.

from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education to Lynn Hehr, director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, for work on increasing algebraic and geometric understanding.


Deadline for Chancellor’s Discovery, Creativity, Innovation and Collaboration Fund, July 15. The new fund is aimed developing the university’s intellectual and creative environment, and heightening its impact as an economic engine for Arkansas. Funding for up to 15 projects, at a maximum of $150,000 per project, will be provided to groups of faculty and students who propose ideas that bring the academic community together in new and innovative ways that will lead to distinctive and sustainable initiatives. The fund is managed by the provost’s office under the direction of Jim Coleman, provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. See the online application and information site for more details.

Summer Research Institute, May 31 to June 3, and June 7-10. Undergraduate students pursuing STEM degrees are invited to participate. The event will be held at the Arkansas School for Math, Science, and the Arts (ASMSA) in Hot Springs. Session titles include Intro to Math Modeling, intro to 3D Modeling in CAD, Biotech Bootcamp, Finding Sources and Data analysis in Excel.
The cost per student is $500. Scholarships are available for underrepresented minority students. To sign up, go to the Summer Research Institute’s registration page.

Research Camp Coming in September. The annual two-day camp for faculty members starting their research programs will happen again in the fall. All tenure-track faculty in their first, second or third year are eligible to apply. Topics will include finding research opportunities, grant writing, federal and industry funding, time management, protecting intellectual property, setting up labs, etc. Watch the web page of the Office for Faculty Development and Enhancement for details.


Vice Provost for Research and Economic Development
205 Administration Building
1 University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, AR 72701

Check our Announcements page for the latest VPRED news and updates on funding opportunities. The Limited Submissions page has information on how to apply for grants when funding agencies limit the number proposals from each institution. Interested in a particular type of funding opportunity? Check the Distribution Lists page and sign up for subject-specific email notices from our office.

Send your story ideas and suggestions for Catalyst to Bob Whitby,