Comparison of stress-related factors in the 2007 and 2010 Research Administrator Stress Perception Surveys (RASPerS).

Author:Shambrook, Jennifer


The Research Administrator Stress Perception Surveys (RASPerS) were conducted in 2007 and 2010. During the interval between 2007 and 2010, there was significant change in the research funding landscape in the United States. This was partially due to the end of the U.S. National Institutes of Health budget doubling and the downturn in the U.S. economy. With decreased research funding and state dollars, many research institutions were forced to reduce staffing in research administration. Added to that, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) created a need for rapid response to apply for grant dollars followed by extremely labor intensive reporting requirements for those applications that were funded. (National Research Council, 2012).

Despite the decreases in research support staff and increased administrative burden brought on by ARRA and other increased regulatory and reporting requirements, in a recent update to the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP), the administration burden to faculty has remained essentially unchanged between 2007 and 2012. (Schneider, 2012). 2010 RASPerS data show that almost 90% of the 1,047 research administrator survey participants report their jobs have become increasingly demanding over the past few years (see Figure 1).


The purpose of this study is to compare the results of the 2007 and 2010 RASPerS to compare any differences in stress-related factors affecting the research administration community during this time period. Factors from the two studies to be compared include level of perceived work stress (PWS), working in excess of 40 hours per week, work/family life balance, reporting to work when sick, and feeling valued by colleagues.


The 2007 RASPerS was a unique survey designed and validated specifically for use with the research administrator population. The 2010 RASPerS compiled several general population survey instruments which were selected to measure the same factors as those measured in the 2007 RASPerS. The general population survey instruments were validated for the research administration population. Thus while the questions in the two surveys were similar and measured the same factors, they were not identical. Selection of survey instruments for the 2010 RASPerS is described in more detail in Shambrook (2010).


Both RASPerS instruments were devised as web-based surveys to measure work place stress in an occupational group known as research administrators. This group is primarily comprised of highly educated women over the age of 40 working in the academic environment to support the funding and management of research. (Shambrook and Roberts, 2011). The survey was sent by email invitation with a hotlink to the actual survey. Both RASPerS instruments were validated by experienced research administrators. Both surveys were reviewed and approved by the appropriate institutional review boards of the investigator. (Shambrook and Brawman-Mintzer, 2007; Shambrook, 2010).

The 2007 RASPerS used an internet-based convenience sample of the membership of the resadm-1 list serve. The list serve was estimated to have had about 2,000 participants at the time of the survey. There were 624 participants in the 2007 RASPerS. Detailed sampling and collection methodology for the 2007 RASPerS is previously described. (Shambrook & Brawman-Mintzer, 2007).

The 2010 RASPerS used an internet based cross-sectional survey from a closed population. The 2010 RASPerS was sent to the entire active membership database of the National Council of Research Administrators (NCURA). At the time of the survey there were 6,232 active members in the NCURA membership database. There were 1,188 that completed at least some portions of the survey. Detailed sampling and collection methodology for the 2010 RASPerS is previously described. (Shambrook, 2010).

Similar questions were selected...

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