Author: Lisa Wilson, Sr. Director, Strategic Operations and Training
We are excited to announce a groundbreaking initiative to revolutionize operations and enhance efficiency in the Office of Research Administration (ORA). Aligned with our commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements and perpetual process improvement, the Office of Strategic Operations and Training (SOT) embarked on a pioneering initiative during the summer to seamlessly integrate Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ChatGPT into ORA’s daily workflows in FY24. Through this innovative tool, our vision is to enhance operational efficiency, elevate communication standards, and amplify our support for the research community.
Generative AI, a cutting-edge technology, enables computers to generate indistinguishable content from human-created content. In other words, the tool can generate human-like text based on the prompt it receives. ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), developed by OpenAI, is a state-of-the-art language model that engages in dynamic and contextually relevant conversations. GPT models are trained on a massive amount of text data from the internet. The training phase teaches the Chatbot (robot) patterns, syntax, grammar, and natural language semantics.
We are privileged to collaborate with distinguished faculty from the business school as we embark on this ambitious, proof-of-concept AI journey. Together, we aim to pre-train a Large Language Model (LLM) using ORA-focused materials, including internal and external policies, systems, procedures, training materials, checklists, and job aids. It is important to note that we are currently in this initiative’s “pilot” phase, and the ORA Chatbot, tailored to our needs, is still in its experimental stage of development.
Following is a breakdown of the potential tasks our ORAChat could execute, along with the anticipated advantages:
- Onboarding and Training: Given the proper instruction (prompt), the ORAChat can generate interactive onboarding materials and training resources for new staff members, helping new hires get up to speed on administrative processes, guidelines, and protocols sooner.
- Knowledge Sharing: It can create interactive training materials, checklists, policies, SOPs, and knowledge repositories that will ensure consistent and up-to-date information is readily available to all.
- Answering Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): It can provide quick and accurate responses to common queries from researchers, staff, and stakeholders regarding policies, procedures, deadlines, and other administrative matters.
- Virtual Assistant for Inquiries: Like Siri or Alexa, the ORAChat can function as a virtual assistant and instantly provide information about project status, funding opportunities, regulatory requirements, and other administrative inquiries.
- Improved Customer Support: Research administrators frequently handle inquiries from researchers, collaborators, and stakeholders seeking information about funding opportunities, policies, and administrative processes. ORAChat can provide immediate responses to these inquiries, delivering accurate and consistent information around the clock. This enables administrators to focus on more complex tasks while ensuring stakeholders receive prompt and helpful assistance.
- Efficient Document Review and Compliance Assurance: Research administrators must review numerous documents, such as grant proposals, contracts, and compliance forms. ORAChat will expedite this process by automatically analyzing and understanding the content of these documents.
- Proposal Development Assistance: It can provide insights, suggestions, and guidance on proposal development by analyzing previous successful proposals, recommending key components, and improving overall proposal quality.
- Event Coordination: ORAChat can aid in coordinating and planning research-related events, such as conferences, workshops, and seminars, by suggesting agendas, providing logistical support, and handling scheduling.
- Compliance and Regulation Guidance: Researchers and administrators can consult the GPT for guidance on compliance with regulatory requirements, ethical considerations, and legal standards relevant to research activities.
- Communication and Correspondence: It can help compose formal emails, letters, and notifications to stakeholders, collaborators, and funding agencies.
- Research Ethics and Institutional Review Board (IRB) Support: ORAChat can guide ethical considerations and IRB procedures, helping researchers navigate the ethical review process.
- Knowledge Base Creation and Maintenance: It can continuously update and expand the research administration information knowledge base, ensuring easy access to accurate and up-to-date information.
We understand that the integration of AI technologies may raise questions and concerns. Rest assured, we are taking appropriate measures to ensure data security, privacy, and ethical use of these tools. We will strictly adhere to all relevant policies and regulations to maintain the highest standards of integrity and confidentiality.
To ensure a smooth transition into an ORA AI culture, during Research Week 2023, we will host a panel discussion to help demystify generative AI and ChatGPT. Throughout the year, we will provide comprehensive resources, like prompt engineering workshops, to help familiarize everyone with the new ORA Chatbot. We encourage you to actively participate in these training sessions and embrace this exciting opportunity to enhance your work environment. We are confident that this initiative will significantly improve our efficiency, effectiveness, and overall support to the research community. Email me directly if you have any questions or suggestions or want to join the project team as a Subject Matter Expert or beta tester. We look forward to your collaboration and feedback as we embark on this transformative journey together. We value your input and experience.
Sr. Director, Strategic Operations and Training
Office of Research Administration