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Tracking and Evaluation Core

Sylvia Goldman

Sylvia Goldman, PhD
Core Director
Future Point Consulting

Brian Melancon

Brian Melancon
Core Manager
Pennington Biomedical Research Center
(225) 763-2980

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About This Core

The Tracking and Evaluation (TE) Core is charged with developing and implementing strategies, processes and activities to collect useful data and provide meaningful evaluations at both the Core-level and overall Center-level.

To accomplish our task, we utilize a logic model, to outline activities and intended results; and, we employ participatory, utilization and outcomes based approaches. Some of our methods include: interviews, focus groups, surveys, program data analysis, scientific productivity analysis and social network analysis. We conduct environmental scanning, monitor each core and evaluate the LA CaTS Center's structure, services, activities, resource allocation, budget management, response to user needs, and user feedback. Since we are an IDeA-CTR comprised of 10 independent institutions spread over a wide geographic area, we utilize web-based tools, to assist in data collection, storage and analysis whenever possible. Our web-based tools include SPARC (Services, Pricing Application for Research Centers), REDCap, and a PubMed crawl.

Data and subsequent evaluations are used in a number of ways by the LA CaTS Center, including: enhancing recognized Cores or Center-wide strengths, identifying needs, new opportunities or challenges; and, making adjustments to budgetary and/or programmatic initiatives. Our objectives are to (1) provide the LA CaTS Center PI and the executive committee with actionable evaluations to facilitate data-driven decisions for shaping initiatives and directing resources to impact areas aligned with the Center's mission and theme; and, (2) provide our Cores with evaluations that can be used for identifying strengths or needs, promoting continual improvement and enhancing their overall performance, e.g., Cores use by investigators or other identified stakeholders, use of professional development training resources, career advancements, scientific productivity or collaboration network.

The T&E Core has one Specific Aim which includes the logical next steps to expand our efforts in an evolving Center that anticipates another large surge of growth.  

Specific Aim: Strengthen and oversee the execution of an internal tracking and evaluation plan that ensures ongoing monitoring, informative interim assessments, flexibility to pivot priorities, and an annual evaluation at both the Core-level and Center-wide level for new and continuing initiatives. While accomplishing this aim, we will adapt our existing tools and processes and develop and implement new tools and innovative approaches for collecting, assembling, and visualizing data; assessing progress; enhancing collaborations and providing analyses for identifying and reinforcing LA CaTS Center strengths.

Center-wide Metrics or Progress Indicators:

The LA CaTS Center metrics and progress indicators are based on our External Advisory Committee recommendations, the direction of our funder the NIH-NIGMS and the needs of the state as identified by the LA CaTS Center to address health disparities and improve health outcomes. The progress objectives are summarized in the below graphic:


Data include manuscripts, publications, presentations, posters, grant submissions and awards, and intellectual property activity.

Collaboration and networking are necessary for moving from basic to translational to clinical research. We have established the process and tools allow us to capture volume and information about different types of collaborations - then visualize the networks, e.g., multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, multi-site, mentor-mentee or MD/PhD study teams, or other types of cross-affiliated project teams.

Several of the Cores have initiatives that will not be successful unless our communities are engaged. We work with the Cores to track success.

Core response to investigators is captured through our web-based tool called SPARC. The TE Core also works closely with the Administrative Core and Ethics and Regulatory Knowledge Core to track time from application submission to receiving IRB approvals and other applicable approvals.

Our goal is to establish and sustain the Center s ability to provide quality products and services through the performance of the Cores.

Metrics include investigator characteristics (e.g., credential, rank, institutional and/or COBRE/INBRE affiliations, specialty or discipline, demographics), study characteristics (e.g., disease state, impact area, study type, research focus, type of collaboration -multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional, MD/PhD team, mentee/mentor team). Career promotions are also captured by the Cores and reported to the TE Core. We administer an annual survey to investigators who have used LA CaTS Center resources to collect additional information including career promotions.