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Policy Statement
March  2013
Mission
The Biostatistics Collaborative Research Core (BCRC) provides methodological, biostatistical, and epidemiologic consultation, collaboration, and support for health sciences and social sciences research at the University of South Carolina, partner institutions, and research clients, while stimulating original methodological research.

The BCRC is a component of the Office of Research and Health Sciences, in collaboration with the schools and colleges that comprise the Division of Health Sciences.  It was developed to provide a central core of support including, but not limited to, consultation, collaboration, research, and services in the areas of research design, implementation, analysis, interpretation, and data management. 
Structure and Staffing
BCRC is administrated under the Vice President for Research and Health Sciences, through the Associate Vice President for Health Sciences.  A Steering Committee composed of representatives of health science units will provide guidance on policy and services. The BCRC Director will be responsible for overall development, direction, and administration. The BCRC is composed primarily of faculty and staff from the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics. 

 

Organizational Chart

chart

Services
Please see our Services page for a comprehensive list of the services provided by the BCRC.
Access to Services
Consultation and services may be requested by completing a Request for Services form, on the BCRC website. Requests will, so far as possible, be fulfilled in the order in which they are received. We will make every attempt to be sensitive to time considerations.
Persons or entities from outside the University may also request consultation and services, but will be billed at an external rate.  

Adequate notice must be provided for consultation or assistance on projects except routine questions.  For major projects with deadlines, such as grant applications or abstracts for meetings, requests should be made well in advance, ideally 60 days prior to the submission date whenever possible.  This allows us to ensure that the customer receives high-quality service.  For requests without a deadline (papers, analysis, etc.), requests should be made as soon as the need is known, and staff will work with requesting faculty to determine a time line that is feasible and acceptable.  

Billing and Fees
Billing will be discussed with the BCRC director. Billing rates will be revised at the beginning of each fiscal year (July 1).
All post-award work for grants that do not include BCRC and work that goes beyond the original plan will be billed at an hourly rate.  This includes consultation, meetings, data entry, data management, data analysis, programming, writing, editing, paper revisions, etc.

Budgets for grant-related work will be created in a collaborative manner.  BCRC faculty and staff will work with the investigator to establish a scope of work and budget appropriate to the proposed project.  If the level of funding is fixed or limited, the budget and scope of work will outline what can be accomplished within the limitations.  

The BCRC will provide a budget for its services for grant proposals as well as a description for the resources section that contains biographical information and qualifications of BCRC personnel.  NIH biosketches will be provided only when there are named key personnel providing time and effort based on a percent of FTE. 
Please see the Rates page for the internal and external hourly rates http://www.sc.edu/bcrc/rates.shtml.

Time and Effort for Collaboration Compared to Standard Billable Hours
The BCRC does not replace collaborative research conducted in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics or other departments, but provides a means to organize requests, provide continuing services that do not require faculty for completion, and facilitate matching requests to expertise.  It is expected that projects with more limited involvement of department faculty and staff will be billed on an hourly basis, while projects that require extensive faculty-level consultation and collaboration and methodological research will be on a Time and Effort basis (percent FTE) and budgeted in the grant with the faculty member(s) listed as key personnel.  In all cases of grant-funded work, whether based on billable hours, a projected budget, or percent of FTE, the BCRC will retain their share of indirect cost recovery, based on the direct expenditures associated with their work.  Whether an individual project should be handled through the BCRC as billable hours, a set budget, or percent FTE of faculty in the BCU, will be discussed during the application preparation process.  Factors to be considered include project size and duration and whether a faculty member is available for an FTE-based collaboration.

Fees for Services
Please see our rates page for a fee schedule and an explanation of how you will be billed.

Preparation for Working with the BCRC
If you request that BCRC assist with a grant, you should be prepared to provide a draft of the specific aims and research questions / hypotheses, a description of all available pilot data, proposed study design, a general description of the type of data to be collected and the methods or instruments, an idea of the feasible sample size, and any other relevant information.  If BCRC will be assisting with preliminary data analysis, you will need to provide the data in a readable and organized format, such as a database or spreadsheet.  If the data are in written form only, there may be additional delay or charges to allow for data entry and, in periods of high grant preparation activity, BCRC staff may not be able to accommodate the request.  BCRC staff will be happy to discuss how best to provide data.  

Post-award Re-budgeting
BCRC faculty and staff are well aware of the current funding climate and understand that entire grant budgets are routinely cut.  If BCRC has been written into a grant, it is expected that the percent reduction in the BCRC budget, if any, will be no greater than the overall grant reduction percent.  BCRC Directors and faculty will discuss with the PI how budget cuts will affect the work that can be performed.

Because the BCRC depends on funded projects to sustain its work, we must rely on researchers to maintain the implicit agreement entered into with the initial request and the provision of assistance in preparation of the grant.  Further, if BCRC faculty and staff are removed from grants that they have participated in preparing, they lose the opportunity to conduct the research they helped to plan and to receive the academic and intellectual, as well as the financial, rewards of participating in the funded research, analyzing the data, and disseminating the results.  The collaborative nature of our work, as well as our mutual trust as members of a community of scholars require that we all uphold the commitments we make: to perform the work as agreed on the part of the BCRC and to provide support and collaboration on the part of the funded investigators.  To do otherwise is a threat to collegiality and collaboration, and perhaps to the existence of the BCRC as a resource for researchers.

Authorship Status for BCRC Faculty and Staff 
Current policies and ethical guidelines concerning authorship emphasize that authorship is independent of funding and data ownership.  Any BCRC faculty or staff member who makes a contribution that warrants authorship should be listed as an author(s), and not merely mentioned in acknowledgements.  The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) (1) states:
Authorship credit should be based on 1) substantial contributions to conception and design, or acquisition of data, or analysis and interpretation of data; 2) drafting the article or revising it critically for important intellectual content; and 3) final approval of the version to be published. Authors should meet conditions 1, 2, and 3.
There is no discussion of payment as exclusion for authorship.  The JAMA policy on authorship is very similar (2).  The BCRC will operate under the ICMJE policy in matters of authorship.
References:

  1. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals: Writing and Editing for Biomedical Publication, http://www.icmje.org/, updated February 2006 (accessed December 13, 2006).
  2. JAMA Instructions for Authors, The Journal of the American Medical Association,http://jama.ama-assn.org/misc/ifora.dtl , (accessed December 13, 2006).

Acknowledgement:  This policy draws heavily on documents from the Wake Forest University Data Analysis Unit.  We are grateful to Dr. Mark Espland for his advice and providing us with these materials.

 
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