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  • 1.  Sponsor satisfaction survey

    Posted 08-30-2022 04:55

    Hi all, 

    Posting on behalf of the Research Services side of my university: 

    We're developing a survey to send out to the industry sponsors that fund our R&D projects. We seek to measure sponsor satisfaction across multiple facets, e.g.: working with the Research Office, PI/research team engagement, timeliness of deliverables and invoicing, and also hope to collect overall feedback that will help us identify areas of improvement to build positive relationships between our university and our sponsors.  

    Has anyone conducted a 'sponsor satisfaction survey' like this, and might you be willing to share the questions asked and any lessons learned from the process?

    (Note: We are an international university outside the US, not currently a member of UIDP, and our sponsors are primarily in the Middle East. We recognize this may require us to adapt any survey examples to fit context.)




    Cira Mathis, CRA, PMP
    Manager, Internal Programs
    University Sponsored Research
    Khalifa University, Abu Dhabi

  • 2.  RE: Sponsor satisfaction survey

    Posted 08-30-2022 12:41

    *Andrea breathes into a paper bag to manage anxiety*  I read the title and thought you were going to ask PIs and I could just see it.  No matter your level of your brilliance, you would get "They wouldn't process my third request for a NCE."  "They said I probably should reconsider purchasing radioactive isotopes from Iran."   But that was NOT your question, so I am calming down ;)

    Satisfaction surveys are hard.  We have not done one, in part because they're hard - and I have enough hard things in my life ;)  The thing about customer satisfaction surveys is that they rarely work.  Response rates are low, typically.  And the population of responders is often quite skewed, cf. above.  The people who are already aggravated will answer.  But then they will get MORE aggravated because the survey (which is probably blinded) is not tied to immediately solving their problem - even assuming a problem actually exists.  And, what's actually worse, is survey creators tend to measure what's easy rather than what they really need to know.  Not that you would do that on purpose, but it's easy to do it accidentally.  (See above, survey creation is hard.)  You will need face validity, construct validity, criterion validity.... the whole nine yards... if you are going to create processes, work flows, internal changes based on survey results.

    Listening to our stakeholders is absolutely critical.  I absolutely hear you there.  I'm wondering if focus groups might not be better.  Or, a standing advisory committee.  Or, alternatively, design the HECK out of that survey!

    Good luck!!


    Andrea Buford
    Director, Office of Sponsored Programs
    Oakland University

  • 3.  RE: Sponsor satisfaction survey

    Posted 08-31-2022 10:48
    I laughed out loud at Andrea's response.  That was my first thought as well. A satisfaction survey of the PIs would elicit just that response.

    I agree with all of Andrea's comments and advice. I believe I am concerned about the goals and objectives of a sponsor survey. Is your intent to blanket your active sponsor pool with a general customer satisfaction survey?  Will it be a marketing-type opportunity survey or a targeted survey?

    You mention that you are an international institution and will be requesting feedback from your local sponsors, primarily in the middle east.  Is this a common practice in your area of the world?  I am very curious about this.

    In our area of practice, our sponsors are varied:

    • Federal Entities (who would not respond to surveys)
    • State Entities (who would typically not respond to surveys)
    • Local Entities (who may, on occasion, participate in targeted surveys)
    • Not for Profit Entities (who might participate in targeted surveys that support their strategic goals)
    • Private Sponsors (who are likely to participate in targeted surveys if they relate to the strategic funding)
    Andrea mentioned that you might consider a focus group.  We have had forums inviting funding partners, investigators, and administrative research units to discuss strategies and support.  They have had mixed success.  The most successful option for feedback related to executive functions has been the pre-proposal meetings or webinars with specific sponsors.  We discuss lessons learned and strategies for success.  These are valuable for current and future proposal development and award efforts.

    We also encourage our PIs to develop relationships with the sponsoring agencies, their program officers, and in some cases, the contracting officers. This helps us and our administrative units create relationships that support strategic partnerships for future development efforts.

    Please post back with additional information.  I am very interested in your strategies and how you work with your sponsors in your area.
    Thank you for posting such an interesting topic.

    Michelle Davis, M.Ed.
    Research Administrator, Office of Research
    College of Health Sciences, Boise State University