4:00 - 4:05 p.m. - Announcements (5 minutes)


Tracy Futhey begins by welcoming Jenny Lodge, Duke’s new Vice President for Research and Innovation. Jenny comes to Duke from Washington University in St. Louis where she served as Vice Chancellor for Research and Senior Associate Dean for Research for the School of Medicine. We will be interested in hearing from her about faculty and research needs. Beginning today, ITAC will be hosting a series of meetings to pull information together on faculty and research needs with the goal of better serving these needs.


4:05 - 5:05 p.m. - Social Sciences Research and IT Support, D. Sunshine Hillygus, James Moody, Kate Bundorf, (40 minute presentation, 20 minute discussion)


What it is: Faculty representatives of the Social Sciences will be joining us to present upon their research/academic efforts, discuss the role IT currently plays in support of their work, and identify and review some of the areas for growth and additional opportunity between the Social Sciences and IT support. 


Why it’s relevant: In an effort to learn about the overall character of research and research IT support throughout the University, as well as to explore commonalities between the needs of individual domains and Duke as a whole, ITAC will be hosting a series of presentations/discussions over the course of the summer semester with key researchers and their colleagues. These discussions will aim to distinguish the most prevalent services for which IT need to aim to provide institutional level support versus those that are surely essential for certain research but are not pervasively used, and so may be better supported from the school/institute/department/lab level. Ultimately, OIT is seeking to open better lines of dialogue with the major research efforts at Duke, to learn how to better support our researchers, overcome any gaps in the current system, and collaborate to identify new ways to assist in elevating Duke's Research Community as a whole.

Sunshine Hillygus introduces herself as a professor of Political Science and Public Policy. Sunshine conducts many surveys, and she works extensively on survey methodology. She also is involved in big data such as the national voter file. While this type of data may not be sensitive, because it involves humans, Sunshine must engage with many oversight groups such as the Institutional Review Board (IRB) and the Information Technology Security Office (ITSO) to name a few. Sunshine states that these different oversight groups all have different requirements which means the process of doing research is complex and time-consuming.

Kate Bundorf is the J. Alexander Distinguished Professor of Health Policy and Management. Kate started at Duke in January of 2021. Kate comes from Stanford University where she was a health economist. Kate’s work bridges the clinical and social sciences. Kate often uses insurance claims and large survey data collected by government departments. Kate has much experience as an investigator in the fields of medicine and social science.

Sunshine continues with four major areas of concern for Duke Social Science faculty: 

1. Data storage, access, and transfer – This topic extends beyond IT, especially with cuts to SSRI (Social Science Research Institute.) Support for data collection and analysis is also needed (e.g., statistical analysis, machine learning, survey design). The needs are so disparate especially when talking about undergraduate research increasing. For example, a bunch of graduate and undergraduate students need to use python to interact with data but might not know everything that is needed. Also, there are many issues of compliance and integrity that are not limited to data storage.

2. Research oversight processes and policy – Communication and coordination are needed across the many oversight bodies as the process for the researcher has become complex, time-consuming, and a hindrance to research.

3. Development of shared data resources – I can no longer look to only political sciences databases given that my research is interdisciplinary. There is an opportunity to develop shared data resources maintained centrally to reduce duplication of effort, improve oversight and compliance, and increase access to data among Duke investigators.

4. Need for social science faculty representation in the development of IT/research processes, policies, and products – decisions on the Duke Medical side filter down to the university side and are not reflective of Social Sciences needs. It is important to have opportunities like this ITAC meeting so that faculty are involved in the decision processes.

Kate Bundorf speaks to what nirvana for the social sciences would be at Duke. Nirvana would involve a place where investigators could go when needing to access a data set. There would be coordination across the oversight organizations and bodies where all could go for help on IRB (Institutional Review Board) requirement fulfillment, and for needed training on maintaining confidentiality. There would be clear, organized, and maintained systems about constraints for accessing data. A safer and more efficient environment would be provided for researchers including undergraduate and graduate student researchers. If attractive data sets are provided and oversight requirements are clear and efficient, researchers will access them.

Speaking to point 3, Kate says it would be good to make data more available, to address issues upfront, and to have specific staff address issues upfront. This leads to point 4 because if, for example, 7 faculty are interested in a data set, then the data set is worth an investment.

Sunshine asks the question, "Who has responsibility?" It is unclear where researchers should go for help. There has been some discussion about whether the library is the appropriate home because of concerns about faculty involvement. We would like to see more conversations and determine who is doing what and how we can be more efficient. Also, the sharing of resources between the medical side and campus side of Duke is tricky because of the incredible diversity on the university side. Sunshine advises undergraduates and graduate students who have never worked on issues of data compliance and data transfer. Finally, cost-sharing while often needed, does not address the needs of graduate students and faculty who do not have funding and undergraduates who are being pushed toward research involvement.

Q. David MacAlpine asks Kate about how accessing outside data sets worked at Stanford. 

A. Kate replies that many of the data sets that she worked with were purchased and came with clearly defined restrictions on how they could be used and shared. By definition, if you purchase a data set, it is shared but often there is a limit to sharing and often this was defined as don’t share outside of Stanford, so these data sets were mainly resources for faculty associated with the university.

Q. Tracy Futhey – I like the way you have parsed out the issues into 4 areas. These areas can be tackled, and discrete activities can be determined for each. Concerning point 1, research support, and needing more support on tools, it makes sense to offer these tools in common. In Duke’s wildly decentralized and autonomous environment, do you have thoughts on ways to deliver these needs? Can you imagine who could do this for Duke?

A. Sunshine – The primary concern is that faculty be involved. There is a concern with it being the library unless there is a way to rethink the structure. The Center for Data and Visualization[in the library] does provide help and sends people to me for help with surveys. But more is needed for statistical support, and we have talked about coordinating with the stats department. Do we need to change how this is structured in the library? I also see limitations of it being with SSRI and I see limitations of it being in a specific school.

A. Tracy – OIT focuses on hardware and software but doesn’t focus as much on helping with the use of software and I don’t know that OIT would be the place.

Sunshine continues talking about coordination or lack of coordination among the many oversight departments including ITSO, RFDS, ORS, and IRB. It is unclear from the faculty perspective when to involve whom. IRB has some decision rules, but the process needs to be improved for faculty as the process is confusing and time-confusing and there are cases of researchers giving up.

Kate says she works with the Margolis Center, and they did a mind process map, and it was very complex and, in the end, it was not clear whether they got the process right for every case. This is very complex and difficult from the research investigator's side. In general, researchers don’t know why they need to go to a specific oversight department and don’t know what they need to provide.

Sunshine says that also oversight approval often gets hung up. While the mission of institutional protection is understood, it would be good to know what decision rules are being used, whether these rules can be appealed, and why these rules differ from the rules of other boards. It would be good to think these processes through from the researcher's perspective. Faculty input and decreasing delays are needed.

Kate proposes the idea of having someone involved in the development of these processes “come along for the ride” with the research investigator beginning with writing the NIH proposal, continuing with submission, and continuing with the entire process.

Sunshine would like to see this “come along for the ride” idea to include non-NIH-funded research as well because it is a very different process. There are very different considerations when a data set is purchased or when doing a Qualtrics survey. When is a Data Use Agreement (DUA) needed? Who signs off on the DUA? What data management plan is needed? What is expected when?

Richard Biever says the IRB process is a natural catch point. The DOD and NIH have scripted requirements as well. If there is FERPA, there is a need to look at the data set and determine how you comply. A skill set needs to be developed on how to get data, how to get data reviewed, how to determine whether constraints are needed, and if nobody can comply, another process is needed.

Tracy is in strong support of the “come along for the ride” idea. Tracy offers to find someone for this summer for one NIH and one non-NIH process. Please let us know when you have a research project for this.

Q. John Board is ashamed that Sunshine can rattle off so many acronyms for the many oversight components of a research project. Faculty really shouldn’t have to know so much about such a complicated process with so many different groups each involved in providing part of the process. Who is doing this better than Duke?

A. Sunshine – Duke used to be doing this better than Duke is doing it now. IRB was known for holding the researcher’s hand through the entire process. But now, new processes have been layered on top of old processes. Also, Covid and staffing shortages may be contributing to the problem. These processes are going through email which is very slow, and email gets lost. An electronic system was adopted on the medical side but without a conversation with the university side so the system does not meet the university's needs. It would be great if a PI could log into a system and see where there was a hang-up in the process and it would be great if the system could meet diverse needs including those of emeritus faculty and grad students, for example. Twitter data is handled very differently between universities. Some institutions don’t require as many hoops, so some Duke faculty store their data with collaborators at other universities. There needs to be a discussion about requirement needs between all the groups.

A. Kate says that Stanford built centralized systems around obtained data sets. For example, when Stanford obtained Medicare claims data, the staff figured out the oversight requirements, and then, the same IRB and the same DUA requirements were used for anyone wanting to use this data set. If faculty are using these centralized data sets, then the process is much easier, but others will be accessing this shared data as well.

Sunshine says that being attached to the Med School makes her life more difficult. Sometimes in Sunshine’s research, it is less about the risk of harm and more about these are the rules. Some institutions come at privacy risk differently because they are not attached to NIH.

Kate says there was a person at Stanford whose job was how to give data access to as many people as possible. This person addressed how to best get access to data and pushed on this constantly.

Q. Paul Jaskot says I wouldn't want to lose that important thread that Social Sciences (and others) have a big chunk of issues around novice graduate and undergraduate student researchers involved in a project. This is maybe not an OIT issue per se, but an important layer of our digital ecosystem that can get easily lost.

Q. David MacAlpine comments on the human genome project and wonders if this type of data collection has resulted in improvements on the Social Sciences side.

A. Sunshine says no, it has been the opposite. Information is all around us; it’s no longer just about federally-funded data collection. The disclosure rules for scraping data off the web are different from using federally funded data. At one time, flexibility was Duke’s strong point but now, there is less flexibility and less clarity. Maybe it is because of the pandemic but compliance is harder. Improving this issue is beneficial to the institution because research is not happening,and research is being significantly slowed down. 

A. Kate is aware of researchers and administrators trying to come up with standardized DUAsbut she is not sure what the state of this is.

A. Sunshine underscores that everything is complex and there is a diversity of research and diversity of the type of data. Sometimes we have to use a data use agreement (DUA) and sometimes we just have to provide a consent form. There are so many layers, and they are sometimes unknown. It would be nice to have a spearhead of a person that we could go to. Also, often the DUA is provided to us, and we don’t help create it.

A. Victoria Szabo says that scraping data from the web gets us into all sorts of fair use questions, too.

A. Richard Biever loves the idea of having faculty/researcher help in how we classify data sets and studies.

Sunshine’s summary of issues:

1) There is a need for research support--not only for data storage, access, and transfer, but also for data collection and analysis (e.g., statistical analysis, machine learning, survey design). 2) There is a need to coordinate existing and forthcoming research oversight processes and policies. 3) There is an opportunity to develop shared data resources maintained centrally to reduce duplication of effort, improve oversight and compliance, and increase access to data among Duke investigators.4) Need for social science faculty representation in development of IT/research processes/policies/products.


5:05pm - 5:30 p.m. - State of Software Licensing Update, Terril Lonergan, (15 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion)


What it is: Terril Lonergan will be joining us to provide an update on the current state of Software Licensing following the close of this school year, and in preparation for the coming academic season. 


Why it’s relevant: This update will provide insight into a number of ongoing prominent efforts and opportunities on the horizon. 

Terril Lonergan, Program Manager for OIT Software Licensing, presents the State of Software Licensing Update. The presentation will include:

• What Software Licensing does

• https://software.duke.edu

• Popular software packages

• Plan to sunset OIT’s legacy Adobe ordering system

• Software Manager – new Adobe ordering system

• Communication plans

• New developments with IT procurement

OIT Software Licensing works in coordination with the IT Council and Duke Procurement to negotiate Duke-wide software licenses. More than 100 software packages are available to students, faculty, and staff for free or at a discount. OIT Software Licensing evaluates new software, provides customer support, and obtains or builds software packages and redistributes them via https://software.duke.edu. The department consists of two full-time staff.


https://software.duke.edu is OIT’s central software distribution website. Terril presents the 2021 data pulled from Google Analytics using Tableau. There were over 72,000 users. 66,853 software products were ordered. Students were the highest consumers.

Microsoft Office is the most popular software package. Other Popular software packages include:

• Adobe Creative Cloud

• Matlab

• Endnote

• ePrint client

• Graphpad

• Stata

The legacy ordering system for Adobe is sunsetting on or before July 1, 2022. This legacy system takes 5-10 minutes per order to process, and this has not scaled with current needs. As part of this change, credit card payments will not be accepted for Adobe software only. Credit card processing fees cost Duke from 1.5% to 3.5% of the cost for each transaction. As far as who this will affect: for Acrobat, out of 6,621 orders, 4.38% were paid with credit cards; for Creative Cloud, out of 1590 orders, 12.77% are paid with credit cards. Credit cards can be used for other non-Adobe software.

The new Software Manager system that was created by Charley Kneifel’s team has the following features:

• Software Manager is entirely self-service.

• Works only with fund codes billed on a reoccurring monthly basis at 1/12 of the annual cost.

• Provides netid validation eliminating the potential for duplicate orders and/or inaccurate netids.

• Provides immediate access to software without a 1-3 day processing wait.

• Thanks to Sean Dilda of OIT who programmed this new Software Manager. 

• The site is tailored for customers to easily access, review, and make changes to their licenses.

• Licenses can be started or canceled at any time, eliminating the need to transfer licenses.

• When a user leaves Duke, the account is removed automatically and billing stops.

• We do have plans to use Software Manager for other products eventually.


Q. David MacAlpine – I pay for Adobe on a personal credit card rather than using a fund code.


A. Terril – There are some cases where this change will not be ideal. Some grants stipulate that what is spent must only be used for the specific grant project. We are not discontinuing credit cards for anything other than Adobe. I am sorry for the small percentage of you that fall into this category.

A. Evan Levine – I don’t know if this should be purchased for individual use.

A. Terril – Adobe does not say that the purchase must only be used in the university setting. Other software does specify that personal use is not acceptable but not Adobe.

A. David – Also, there is concern that the software will expire right before a manuscript or grant is due and paying with a credit card ensures continued use.

A. Terril – Software Manager is opt-in where you input a fund code and coverage won’t stop unless you cancel it or leave the university. Previously, in order to renew, we would have to delete everybody’s license. This is no longer the case.

Q. Mark Palmeri – I would like to emphasize the challenge between personal use and business use. For example, DOD software only allows authenticated users. Other software is less stringent.

A. Terril – Licensing restrictions are prominently displayed on the software page at https://software.duke.edu. Some restrictions specify classroom only or only for research. 

A. John Board – But if broad use is allowed, then that’s great, as may be the case with Adobe! 

A. Mark Palmeri – Duke faculty can use a portion of their time for personal exploration, so this becomes complicated.

A. Terril – Microsoft says not to use for personal use. We will try to better document use restrictions. Part of the problem is that people don’t always read the EULAs but we will look into more support documentation.

Terril continues describing Communication Plans for Software. In response to student surveys, some students thought we should do a better job marketing services. So, we are working with Camille Jackson on campaigns aimed at new students and faculty. We will also be communicating with Chronicle ads in the Send Home and Welcome Back issues. Finally, we will be utilizing vendor-driven marketing opportunities and partnering with student groups to increase awareness.

Terril concludes with Goals for IT Procurement which consist of:

• Optimizing the intake/review process for new software licensing agreements. This includes vendor risk assessments, contract reviews, and legal considerations.

• Evaluating current licensing agreements to optimize contract terms and cost.

• Organizing software contracts into a single repository for Duke University and Duke Health for better-centralized management.

• Expanding effort beyond OIT’s software agreements.