Writing proposals can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Our staff is equipped and available to assist in proposal writing and project planning. Use the tabs below to explore the different support options available at each stage of the research lifecycle, and our facilities.
A printable version of the Odum Institute’s facilities document is also available.
Planning Your Research
Before deciding how to tackle your research project, you first have to define the question/questions you want to answer. Often in research we are looking for the gaps in existing research, or previous research to replicate. In both cases, it is a good idea to explore the existing literature on your subject, to get an idea of what has been done and how you might build upon that foundation.
If your topic involves social science, we recommend you check out our digital data repository, UNC Dataverse, which houses one of the largest collections of social science research data in the world. Not what you’re looking for? Contact our archivists at email@example.com for help finding other resources.
What type of data do you want to collect?
These consultants are available for short consultations free of charge to UNC students, faculty and staff and can help if you are struggling with this step:
Once you have defined your question, the next step is to decide the best way to answer it. What methods will you use? Will you be collecting data? If so, how will you do it and for what purpose?
You may already have a strategy in mind. If not, we can help with that, too. Visit the pages below for more resources about each category of methodology, and to contact our consultants:
“Research instruments” refers to the tools you will use during data collection. This can include surveys, questionnaires, scripts for interviews, codebooks and more. If you are new to this process, our consultants can provide guidance and resources to get your products in shape. Familiar with developing materials but want a fresh pair of eyes to review them? They can do that, too.
Our survey unit offers consultations for survey design on dissertations, theses, other research papers and funding proposals. It also houses walk-in hours for Qualtrics support, for technical questions about this powerful web-based survey software.
Our qualitative and mixed methods units offer consultations on creating questions and codebooks for in-depth interviews, focus groups and more. Our consultant can also advise on best practices before, during and after interacting with participants.
More and more funding agencies are requiring an airtight data management plan (DMP) from their grant applicants. This can be intimidating even for the most seasoned researchers! On top of that, research projects today often require the movement and analysis of massive data files, which most desktops and laptops are not equipped for.
Our archivists can do much more than just help you find data — they can guide you through the process of managing your own. Visit our archives page for more information on data management support and services (including data management plan review).
Research Data Information Systems (RDIS):
Our RDIS team is made up of experienced programmers who can help you plan for your data storage and processing needs early on, so you can implement solid, scalable strategies early on. Visit our RDIS page for more information.
Once you have defined your research question and created a research strategy, you should know what type of data you will be collecting. At Odum we can provide consultations and guidance on the data collection process — we can also do it for you, as part of a paid service.
Time permitting, these consultants are available for short consultations free of charge to UNC students, faculty and staff and can help you develop your data collection instruments (such as surveys and questionnaires), decide an appropriate recruitment/dissemination methods and establish a workflow for dealing with the collected data afterwards. Choose the consultant best-suited to your preferred collection method:
Data Collection Services:
Our survey and qualitative units both provide paid services for data collection. These services are primarily provided for grant-funded projects led by faculty, though we are also open to partnerships with non-UNC organizations as time permits.
If you are interested in enlisting an Odum consultant for your project, please contact them directly.
If your data is numerical or textual, you can stop by our statistics help desk or schedule an appointment with one of our full-time statistical consultants. Short consultations are available free of charge to UNC students, faculty and staff.
We also offer a number of short courses on quantitative data software and analysis each semester.
Just looking for software? These programs are available in our computer labs and classrooms:
R 3.6.1, RStudio, SAS 9.4 (32-Bit), Stata SE 16, SPSS 26, TeXstudio 2.5.2 and Tinn-R 18.104.22.168
If your data is non-numerical, check out our qualitative research page to set up a consultation with our consultant and/or explore some of the resources listed at the bottom of the page.
We also offer a number of short courses on qualitative data software and analysis each semester.
Just looking for software? These programs are available in our computer labs and classrooms:
ATLAS.ti 8, F4, MAXQDA 2018 and QSR NVivo 12
Once your project is finished, it may feel like the “real work” is done, but as researchers we know that’s not the case. Our staff can assist with the preparation and formatting of your reports and articles, creating a strategy for how and where to get published and production of data visualizations, graphics and videos.
These consultants are available for short consultations free of charge to UNC students, faculty and staff and can assist with the following topics:
- Publication strategy (choosing where and how to publish): Contact Todd BenDor
- Data visualization (making effective and appropriate charts and graphs for your materials): Contact Chris Wiesen
- Broader impacts materials (video production, graphic design, document formatting and data visualization): Contact Kasha Ely
From the Open Science Movement:
“Open Science is the movement to make scientific research and data accessible to all. It includes practices such as publishing open scientific research, campaigning for open access and generally making it easier to publish and communicate scientific knowledge. Additionally, it includes other ways to make science more transparent and accessible during the research process. This includes open notebook science, citizen science, and aspects of open source software and crowdfunded research projects.
The many advantages of this movement include:
- Greater availability and accessibility of publicly funded scientific research outputs
- Possibility for rigorous peer-review processes
- Greater reproducibility and transparency of scientific works
- Greater impact of scientific research”
Are you ready and willing to share your data?
Great! Visit our data archive page to find out how we can assist you in preparing and sharing your research data. If you have social science research data you are interested in sharing, consider using UNC Dataverse as your repository.
The Odum Institute Data Archive was officially established in 1969 with grant funds awarded by the National Science Foundation to establish an academic center of excellence in science with computing facilities for the Institute’s Social Science Statistical Laboratory and Data Center. Widely thought to be the first of its kind in the world, it continues to grow each year.
Archiving your data is extremely important. It protects and preserves your hard work, so that it continues to be accessible and valuable to yourself and others. However, there are many wrong ways to archive your data, and without expertise in the subject it is incredibly easy to put your research in a risky situation. Luckily our expert archivists are available to discuss your options!
Our archiving process will preserve your data for decades to come, making sure it remains usable even as technology and digital storage methods continue to evolve. Check out our data archive page to find out more about our archiving support and services.
Odum Facilities (for grants)
The Institute is supported by a state of the art technology infrastructure. UNC’s centralized campus Information Technology Services (ITS) maintains support servers and backup systems to ensure reliable service to Odum operations and research projects. Independent power and cooling systems are provided in order to guarantee an environment suitable for computing platforms in both Odum and ITS facilities. Odum’s systems include multiple hardware-based servers and two VMware based virtualization clusters with up to 144 cores and over 1 TB of RAM. These clusters have the capacity to operate hundreds of production-level virtual servers and infrastructure components. Data storage can be provided by local NAS, as well as a large multi-petabyte NetApp Storage array. The systems are protected, when required, by the UNC campus hardware firewall and scanned for vulnerabilities regularly using a Qualys based automated scan.
The Odum Institute’s primary computing laboratories jointly have nearly 50 high-end workstations arranged in an active learning environment. The systems are supported by multiple network servers and a wide array of quantitative and qualitative software packages. One of laboratories can also operate as a distance education classroom, accommodating up to 22 students. This classroom has many capabilities for presenting multimedia information to a larger audience, with two cameras and advanced audio systems that can capture the students and instructor, while three large screens are capable of displaying various configurations of instructors, students, and media. This facility allows us to support effective multi-site video conferencing for meetings and workshops.
Odum’s RDIS group (5 FTE staff) supports internally and externally funded research projects, developing new technologies to assist social scientists in sharing their data, analyzing new data types, and archiving their data within the UNC Dataverse.
In addition to the facilities available at the Odum Institute, UNC also provides us with access to several high performance computing arrays. These include 1) the Kure cluster, which includes more than 1,800 computing cores across 230 blade servers; 2) the KillDevil cluster, which includes more than 8,000 computing cores across 706 servers; and, 3) a Virtual Computing Lab that provides access to these tools for UNC researchers anytime, anywhere. These resources help support any development and testing of prototype solutions, particularly those dealing with large events data sets.
The Odum Institute provides services for researchers in managing, archiving, and preserving social science data. The Institute’s Archives Group (~3 FTE + 5 part time staff) provides comprehensive data management consultation and support through all phases of the research lifecycle. The Archive group includes staff with expertise in archiving and preservation, data management, and public policy.
The Odum Institute’s Dataverse is an application to publish, share, reference, extract, and analyze research data. The Odum Dataverse facilitates making data available to others and allows researchers and data authors, publishers and distributors, and affiliated institutions to get credit. The Dataverse offers solutions for publishing research data and accessing data from other researchers for replication studies. Our goal is to share and preserve all interesting research data, with a focus on social science data.
The Archives Group guides researchers to solutions for their data management needs. The Group provides information and assistance on key considerations for managing research data, and is a collaborator on DMPTool.org (created by the California Digital Library), which help researchers:
- Create ready-to-use data management plans for specific funding agencies;
- Meet requirements for data management plans;
- Get step-by-step instructions and guidance for data management plan; and
- Learn about resources and services available at our institution to fulfill the data management requirements of their grants.
Through UNC Dataverse, the Institute houses one of the oldest and largest catalogs of machine-readable data in the United States, including an extensive collection of U.S. Census data, and one of the most complete holdings for 1970 Census files. Other sources of data include the North Carolina State Data Center and the National Center for Health Statistics. Many studies are public, but some are restricted.
The Odum Institute has extensive resources in quantitative, qualitative research and survey research. The institute’s Consulting Group (3 FTE + several part time staff) delivers hands-on assistance and instruction to faculty, graduate students, and others on advanced quantitative and qualitative methods, research design, and other research issues. Odum has two PhD statisticians on staff, offering a multitude of services concerning statistical analysis and software, including SAS, Stata, and R.
Additionally, 5-6 part-time statistical consultants are available throughout the year to help faculty and students (on a walk-in basis) with specific research issues or questions (9am-6pm, M-F).
The institute also offers consulting services in qualitative research design, analysis, and strategies for using software, such as ATLAS.ti and MAXQDA. Consulting services include methodological approaches for analyzing documents, focus groups, in-depth interviews, and graphical and video data.
The Odum Institute’s Survey Research Group (1.5 FTE) supports UNC’s primary education program in survey research, the Certificate in Survey Science. In addition, the Survey Research Group offers consultation and services on questionnaire design and pre-testing, data collection (web and mail surveys), sample design and weighting, and data analysis and visualization. Finally, the Survey Group manages UNC’s site license for the Qualtrics web survey platform, a highly sophisticated software system for delivering and managing web surveys for research purposes.
The UNC Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research (OVCR) Service Center is committed to supporting the research mission of the Odum Institute. The CSC’s goal is to provide the highest level of customer service and research administration expertise, supporting researchers with contract and grant applications, financial management, and payroll. The Service Center consists of six permanent employees that provide guidance and instruction with research administration activities: pre- and post-award; generating data for completing agency forms and reports; proposal packaging and submission; establishing and managing financial accounts; and payroll.
The Service Center works in close collaboration with The University’s Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) with regard to all facets of pre-award and post-award administration, and is a liaison between a number of university departments and other campus offices for research administration, financial management, and human resources processes.
Contract and grant administrators are assigned to specific Center investigators, and do not rotate. In this way, there is clear and consistent delegation of responsibilities, which allows investigators to focus on their research rather than on administrative concerns.
The Director for Finance and Research Administration Manager each have over 15 years’ experience in research administration, financial management and human resources at UNC-CH. In addition, the Service Center recruits 5-8 students funded primarily by the Federal Government’s Federal Work-Study Programs. This allows students to obtain hands-on experience in the areas of accounting, finance, and research administration.
The Odum Institute provides audio transcription services to UNC researchers seeking to transcribe qualitative data collected during focus groups, interviews, and other research activities. The Institute’s transcription team is comprised of one full-time staff member and two part-time student employees.
Unlike other transcription services, transcription team members at the Odum Institute (1 FTE + several part-time staff) are required to familiarize themselves with best practices for handling sensitive data by completing CITI IRB training. The team also collaborates with the Institute’s Research Data Information Systems (RDIS) group to facilitate secure data sharing and storage for projects involving highly sensitive data.
Transcriptions are tailored based on project needs and researcher preferences. For example, researchers using the service consult with the transcription team supervisor to determine speaker identification, timestamp intervals, and file formats for final transcripts. The rate for transcription of audio files involving fewer than 5 speakers is $125 per audio hour and includes verbatim transcription, speaker IDs, timestamps, and technical terminology.
Funding agencies are increasingly requiring researchers to deliver products highlighting the importance of their projects, often in formats project managers lack the resources to produce in-house.
To support researchers during this phase, the Odum Institute offers a wide variety of multimedia production services for the development of broader impact materials, including end-to-end video production, photography, graphic design, and document formatting.
The Institute not only has the expertise necessary to create powerful, professional deliverables, but the equipment as well. Available software and equipment include:
- Adobe Creative Suite
- 3 DSLR cameras + various lenses
- 2 GoPro cameras + accessories
- Audio recorders
The Institute’s communications team (1 FTE + 1 part-time student employee) is available to support researchers through the entire creative process, from brainstorming to production to dissemination. It is also able to provide guidance on content and marketing strategies, to ensure researchers choose the most impactful formats and most effective channels to showcase their work.