New website offers one-stop resource for all things research at Stanford

Designed with the user in mind, the website offers easy access to a broad array of resources that support research and scholarly activities on campus.

James Holland Jones Colobus monkey in the Kibale National Park, Uganda.

The DoResearch website includes a gallery of images that highlight the work of Stanford researchers. This Colobus monkey in the Kibale National Park, Uganda, is part of a project involving researchers from several universities, including James Holland Jones, associate professor, Department of Anthropology at Stanford.

Depending on when you visit DoResearch, the new website of the Office of the Vice Provost and Dean of Research, you may see a penguin spreading its wings, a ragged fragment of Egyptian papyrus, an organic semiconductor or a human heart.

Those are some of the many images – submitted by faculty and researchers across campus – that appear when you click the camera icon in a narrow gray band at the top of every page on the website, which Stanford launched March 1 after nearly two years of development.

"The new website had to be visually exciting," said Patti McCabe, director of training and communication in the Dean of Research Office.

"We wanted to wow the visitor, but we didn't want the header – the band at the top of every page – to be distracting. People come to our site to do something. They have a question. They have a need. They want to accomplish a goal. But if someone is intrigued by a picture, they can click on a camera icon and see it in full color, with a short explanation about the research project it illustrates."

While the stunning photographs may provide an inspiring interlude, the main show is the world of information the website provides to researchers – faculty, principal investigators, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students – and to research staff.

"DoResearch" consolidates and streamlines information from several websites that offered guidance about research policies and procedures and also adds access to a wide array of new information.

"We hope that 'DoResearch' will be a useful tool for answering faculty and staff questions without the need to know beforehand which of the many Stanford administrative offices with 'research' in the title to contact," said Ann Arvin, vice provost and dean of research.

"It's designed not only to give practical 'how to' guidance about tasks, such as proposal submission, but also to enhance awareness of the many resources available to support research and scholarship at Stanford through a single point of access," Arvin said. "We envision 'DoResearch' as a Stanford community project that will always be a work in progress. It will become more valuable through active user feedback about what works or doesn't work and improvements, small or large, can be made as soon as we hear your ideas."

One of the website's unique features is the ability for a faculty or staff member to create a personal "MyDoR" page by logging in with his or her SUNet ID and password. With a single click, an individual can transfer frequently used web links, or those he wants to check regularly, such as announcements of extramural funding opportunities in one area of research, to "MyDoR." So far, more than 100 people have created "My DoR" pages.

McCabe said "DoResearch" makes it easier to find the many unique websites on campus that support faculty research, such as the Office of International Affairs, which offers services to faculty members traveling abroad, and the Vincent Coates Foundation Mass Spectrometry Laboratory, whose expertise and support are available to researchers throughout Stanford.

"Hopefully we've elevated all of the resources on campus so that faculty can easily see what's available," she said.

The university made sure that "DoResearch" could be easily accessed and read on mobile devices, including iPhones and iPads.

The Dean of Research Office worked with Stanford Web Services, which provided project consultation and guidance on the office's relationship with the third party vendors that created the website.

Links galore on DoResearch

At the top of each page, visitors will find seven topics – Research & Scholarship, Funding, Training, Research Administration, How To, Policies and Contact.

Under "Research & Scholarship," visitors will find 22 links, including Computing to Support Research, PI Financial Basics and Required Compliance Training.

Under "Funding," visitors will find five categories: federal funding (searches all funding opportunities published after July 2012), recent federal funding, Pivot (a database that aggregates funding opportunities globally), internal funding opportunities for Stanford researchers, and "top picks," listings hand-picked by experienced Stanford staffers and highlighted for the visitor's convenience.

Under "Policies," visitors will find manuals, including the Research Policy Handbook, a collection of policies, guidelines and general information related to the research enterprise at Stanford.

The "How To" page leads to a list – organized by topic – of answers to commonly asked questions. It also is the place where visitors can submit questions.

Chris Shaw, consultant on content strategy, communication and training in the Dean of Research Office, said the website features a searchable list of the hundreds of Stanford staff who support faculty research. The list is automatically updated as people are added to – or deleted from – StanfordWho, the online Stanford directory.

"When we interviewed people about what they wanted in a website, they told us they wanted to be able to find a person and pick up a phone to talk to them, so we included two places where visitors will find a list of people and offices," Shaw said.

Shaw and McCabe emphasized that the website is a work in progress and that they are eager to receive feedback. Visitors are encouraged to submit comments.