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Improvements to WVU+kc set to go live Monday, Aug. 11

A new, more user-friendly version of WVU+kc, an online tool for research compliance, award administration and funding notification, will go live Monday, Aug. 11.

The system is expected to be offline for this upgrade from 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8 until 8 a.m. Monday, Aug. 11. Researchers who have already begun questionnaires in the current system MUST complete and submit them before Aug. 8, or the data will be lost. Those who have not begun questionnaires may choose to wait for the new and improved version of WVU+kc.

The changes should be largely transparent to users, but the system should function better and faster.

The upgraded version, developed with input from frequent users, will have fewer questions for researchers submitting Institutional Review Board (IRB) protocols and will be more stable, resulting in fewer errors. Sections deemed not useful have been reduced.

WVU is working closely with officials at Indiana University, another early adopter of Kuali, to discuss challenges and solutions as the product evolves.

Already, WVU+kc is handling 2.5 times more activity, and some faculty members say it’s a big improvement over its predecessor system.

Brent McCusker, an associate professor of geography and chairman of a faculty advisory committee, submitted an IRB protocol at the end of the fall 2013 semester and was finished within three days.

“That’s literally never happened,” he said. “The system itself was just so much easier to figure out.”

McCusker’s research on African farmers in rural Malawi focuses on behavioral science. Under the old system, he had to click “not applicable” dozens of times because his work didn’t involve biomedical testing.

“That has just been wiped away. It was much simpler, much more straightforward,” McCusker said.

“Exempt” studies like McCusker’s account for 50 percent of all WVU research activity, so that benefit has widespread impact on convenience.

McCusker also said he’s pleased that WVU+kc is a one-stop shop: He can now see both front-end research material and post-award information all in one place.

“Is there room for improvement? Sure. Things can always better,” he said. “But compared to what we came from, it’s much better.”

Besides the IRB protocol, WVU+kc features: a Proposal Log used by the Office of Sponsored programs; an Institutional Proposal tool used when a project is officially submitted; a Sub-Award tool to track disbursement of shared funding; and an electronic Green Sheet process, or award-initiation module that has saved 20 hours a week in labor and more than 500,000 sheets of paper over the course of a year.

With WVU+kc, users no longer need to enter the same data three times; now, all related forms are populated with a single data entry.

Nearly three dozen training videos of five minutes or less have been created to help people learn to use the system quickly and easily. Those videos get about 1,000 views a month, and the site has a 60 percent return rate, meaning visitors come back for help on other topics.

WVU set out to become a leader in the Kuali Coeus consortium and was the first university to go live with the IRB module in March 2012. Patience was required at the start, but pages that used to take minutes to load now take an average of just 5-6 seconds.

Crystal Sheaves, a program coordinator at the WVU School of Nursing campus in Charleston, has had a few problems with WVU+kc but says the biggest was a user error: It appeared to her that someone had accidentally deleted an entire protocol that had taken hours to build.

“Initially, I was thinking I was going to have to do all these hours of work again,” she said. Instead, a support person was able to recover the data and rebuild the protocol for her. Sheaves called the technician “a godsend.”

“That kind of service underscores our operating philosophy,” said Dan Vasgird, director of the WVU Office of Research Integrity and Compliance. “We’re just a phone call or an email away.”

For more information on WVU+kc, visit http://kuali.wvu.edu/ or “like” WVU+kc on Facebook. For more about the Kuali Coeus product, institutions that are adopting it and other details, visit http://www.kuali.org/kc.

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