NCURA Peer Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

Each program is reviewed by two or three NCURA Peer Reviewers who are selected by NCURA because of their national-level expertise in the Standards areas and who have experience in your type of institution. Each Reviewer has undergone training by NCURA in the Standards and they work within with the established process and philosophy of NCURA's Peer Programs.

Institutions can add additional Reviewers if desired. Smaller programs often only need two Reviewers but may have specific needs that would lengthen the time on-site or add another Reviewer. Larger programs, especially multi-campus operations, may desire additional Reviewers and a longer site visit.

Typically, site visits will be completed within two to three days, depending on the size of the institution or unit's sponsored programs portfolio. A comprehensive review of multiple campuses may require more than one site visit.

Most background materials are readily available from existing policies and procedures that are already posted on the web. NCURA will provide a template document that provides a listing of the background materials that will be helpful. These can be easily gathered, printed directly from your web site, or even just provided through listing the web link. Organizational charts are important for the Review Team and these typically are readily available. The process of putting together background materials serves as an important self-assessment step and frequently identifies challenges and opportunities even before the review begins.

Reviews focus on providing feedback to the office and the institution on sponsored program operations. The focus of the reviews is constructive and intended to provide realistic recommendations that will enhance the effectiveness of the sponsored programs office. The reviews are process and policy orientated; the peer review does not do personnel assessments.

NCURA will assemble the Review Team, but will consider the institutions preferences for Reviewers (e.g., research, medical, land grant, or predominantly undergraduate university experience) and your recommendations from the roster. Each Team needs to be balanced in terms of expertise as well as availability for the selected site visit dates.

Typically it will take 6-9 months from the point an institution formalizes the paperwork for a review and before the site visit can occur. Scheduling major stakeholders from the institution often requires at least four weeks in the future to identify a date when all are available. The NCURA Reviewers additionally have busy schedules and often have to work multiple weeks in the future to find an open period for travel and site visit. However, the review can be scheduled just as quickly as all parties are available.

Peer Advisory Services, which offer more focused assistance, are often available in a quicker time frame.

The program has been booking reviews 6-9 months in advance of the site visit. The earlier the institution books, the greater likelihood that the site visit can be established in the requested timeframe.

Unit-Level reviews are designed for sponsored programs offices within a school, college, division, research center, or organized research unit that operate within a larger institutional framework. For example, if your university has a central Research Administration Office and, beneath that, the College of Science and Engineering has its own Research Administration office, the Science and Engineering office is a "unit". Similarly, if there is a Center for Alternative Energy Research at the university, this center would be considered a "unit".

As a liberal arts university with a modest portfolio, the NCURA review may have seemed a little bit much. However, we have the same compliance and regulatory requirements as an R-1, since we receive federal and state funding, therefore I found the review very helpful in two ways: sharing best practices with others on campus; and helping our colleagues understand the gaps in our current staffing.