Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

DU researchers have a new, green way to follow government regulations

Mountains of paperwork at DU’s Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP) will soon be replaced by bits and bytes as the university prepares to cut the paper out of required government regulated paperwork.

After a year of study, negotiation and development, OSP started rolling out its new computerized compliance system on June 26. The system, called e-Protocol, will affect researchers in virtually every academic department. In the process, it will cut down on the stacks of paper researchers have had to compile every year.

The Web-based system allows researchers to file required documentation for biosafety, animal and human research on a secure server, which is accessed by committees that review research for government compliance. 

The biggest field, the Institutional Review Board for the Protection of Human Subjects, crosses department lines, covering work researchers do with human subjects on everything from biology to psychology to sociology. The rules even govern such work as oral histories collected for historical research.

Sylk Sotto-Santiago, OSP’s manager of Research Compliance, says the new system will be environmentally friendly by reducing paperwork, take up far less storage space and help researchers stay organized while reducing printing and production costs. As DU phases out the old paper system in the coming year, OSP will offer help sessions and online tutorials for researchers.

Dennis Wittmer, an associate professor in Daniels College of Business, chairs the Institutional Review Board. After 15 years on the committee, he says the change is welcome, comparing the move to Web-based reporting to the evolution from the typewriter to the computer. 

“I can’t imagine anyone who will find this objectionable,” he says. “This will make our lives easier.”

Key in implementing the plan, says Sotto-Santiago, is getting the word out. The office is working with department representatives and distributing pamphlets to make sure everyone involved in research is aware of the changes.

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