Creating a shared research center

Research space and equipment need not be owned by specific departments or researchers. Here's how Texas Tech University manages its shared spaces.
By: | April 3, 2020
Image: gettyimages.com: CSA ImagesImage: gettyimages.com: CSA Images

Kristina McCravey, the program and lab manager for the Center for Communication Research at the College of Media and Communication at Texas Tech University, plans to present on shared research space at UB Tech® 2020 in a talk entitled How to Create and Manage Shared Resources for Research. At her university, she is responsible for setting up and maintaining research equipment for faculty and graduate students and for managing logistics of research space and equipment. UB spoke with McCravey about her work.

Q: Is sharing research equipment at universities a growing trend?
A: The sharing of research resources is a growing trend in universities as this practice is both convenient and cost-effective. Utilizing one system for multiple researchers helps universities make the most out of their research budget while also allowing for students to have access to that equipment to learn and consider their research goals.

Q: What are the benefits for universities to share research equipment?
A: Shared research equipment is beneficial to universities as having a lab space and an individual in my role to manage and maintain that equipment helps to facilitate effective data collection. Taking the planning and technology aspects of designing a research study allow for those researchers to use their time doing more of what they are passionate about — research and data analysis.

Q: When did Texas Tech University begin sharing research equipment?
A: The College of Media and Communication is the entity sharing research equipment at Texas Tech University. The Center for Communication Research has been around since the 1970s but only within the last six years has the center expanded to serve a wider range of individuals including faculty, staff, and students.

Q: What type of equipment is shared among researchers at Texas Tech University?
A: The Center for Communication Research has 6,000 square feet of research space as well as a multitude of research equipment for use. We utilize equipment for eye tracking, virtual reality, psychophysiological data collection, dial testing, large in-person surveys, focus groups, and gaming research. It is not unheard of for researchers to request something new and the modular setup allows me to alter the room and equipment configuration to suit their needs.

Q: What are the difficulties in setting up shared research space?
A: The difficulties associated with setting up shared research space range from hardware and software specifications to the configuration of the room. Because of the diverse nature of the studies, I am often moving desks and setting up new equipment to facilitate data collection with very short notice. Regardless of the type of research space being configured, taking a proactive approach to planning allows for difficulties to be resolved before they become problems.


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