Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Housestaff Research Portal

Frequently Asked Questions

Browse our frequently asked questions regarding our research resources. If you're looking for help with a specific issue, we may be able to help. Otherwise, please see our About page.

Consult a Mentor

 I can't find someone who is studying what I'm interested in doing research on. What should I do?

These resources may also help you create a list of potential mentors in your field:

  • Faculty Profiles
    A list of all Feinberg faculty, by department
  • Northwestern Scholars
    A database of faculty members and their research interests, including their recent publications and projects
  • Scopus
    An abstract and citation database of research literature and web sources
  • DigitalHub
    A collection of research and scholarly output at Northwestern

 What can I do to have a successful mentor/mentee relationship?

The Graduate School (TGS) of Northwestern University has an in-depth collection of resources for both mentors and mentees. Visit their page for articles on best practices and tips for success.

The Medical Faculty Council also offers some helpful tips on mentoring.

For more information, consider "Mentorship in Academic Medicine," edited by Sharon Straus and David Sackett. It's an evidence-based guide that shares strategies for building successful mentoring relationships.

 Is there someone who can help me run a search using NU Scholars or DigitalHub?

Ask for help from a Liaison Librarian, the designated primary contact between the Galter Health Sciences Library and your specific department or center.

Learn the Fundamentals

 I completed CITI training when I was at another institution. Do I need to repeat it?

Instructions for sending your previous CITI training certificate to Northwestern can be found on the IRB website.

 When will RCR training be offered?

It's offered each fall on the Chicago campus. The RCR page will be updated when the next date is set.

 Is RCR training required for all residents and fellows?

It's not required for clinical duties, but your grant requirements will note specifically if it's required for your funding. Regardless, we recommend taking RCR training every four years.

 If I took the RCR course in the past, do I need to retake this course?

The RCR course should be repeated every four years or whenever you receive a new grant or enter a new career state, regardless of the last time you took it.

 I'm interested in applying to a master or doctoral degree program, but missed the deadline. Can I still apply?

It varies from program to program — some close their review of application once the deadline has passed, and others once every spot in the program has been filled. Many allow you to join the program at the start of any new quarter, so you may not have to wait a full year for admission.

Find Funding

 I want to run a feasibility study. What grant should I apply for?

You can apply for a pilot or voucher award from NUCATS. Voucher awards are for up to $2,500, and pilot awards will fund up to $10,000. NUCATS sends out open calls for applications throughout the year. Residents and fellows who are collaborating with a NUCATS member are eligible to apply.

NUCATS also offers the Northwestern Medicine Enterprise Data Warehouse (NMEDW) Pilot Data Program, a voucher that covers the cost of using an EDW analyst to support proposal development.

 I missed a deadline to apply for funding, can I still apply?

No. Please wait until the next cycle.

 I'm having a hard time finding funding. Is there someone I can contact who can help me find funding sources for my research?

Reach out to your mentor, program director, division chief or department chair for help. 

A constantly updated list of current internal opportunities is available via NITRO Competitions.

 I would like to apply for an F32, how do I get started?

A F32 is not appropriate for every program. Talk with your mentor, program director, division chief or department chair for more information. 

If appropriate, they will help you to navigate the steps required by both the funding agency and Northwestern to prepare and submit an application. You will want to work with your mentor to prepare a brief abstract that you can use to setup a discussion with the program officer at the NIH institute to which you plan to apply. You should check out the next quarterly grant and fellowship proposal writing workshop series (available on the Evanston and Chicago campuses), offered by The Graduate School and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs.

Check out the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs for some key first steps. Additional details can be found at the NIH grant site.

 Where can I find a listing of all FSM funding opportunities?

For the most up-to-date list, sign up for the Office of Research mailing list and check NITRO Competitions frequently.

Pose a Hypothesis

 How much does it cost to work with a NMEDW analyst?

Apply for the NMEDW Pilot Data Program to help offset the cost. Otherwise, it's $72 an hour. The average report takes eight to 12 hours.

 How do I gain access to i2B2?

You can access i2b2 here. You'll need to be on the NU Network or VPN and need your NU Net ID or Northwestern Medicine ID and password to log in. If you need help using i2b2, or have questions about your results, you can contact nmedw@northwestern.edu.

Conduct Your Study

 How can I cover the cost of using these data collection tools?

RedCap, Study Tracker, Galter Health Sciences Library resources and i2B2 are available at no cost. The NMEDW Pilot Data Program may help cover the cost of analysts.

 How do I get started with the various data tools that are available?

No training is required to use NMEDW and i2B2. If you would like to own and manage a REDCap project, you must complete an administrative session. If you will just be accessing a project with an existing owner, the session is not required.

 How do I connect with a community group who could help with my research?

The Center for Community Health serves as a link between Northwestern and the community. To learn how they can help you, request a consultation.

 How do I access REDCap, NMEDW, i2B2 and StudyTracker?

You must be on the Northwestern Medicine or Northwestern University network or use VPN to access each of these tools.

  • REDCap: If a project is already created, the project owner can grant you access. Email redcap@northwestern.edu to request a new project or take over ownership of an existing project. Attendance is required at a new user training session; details will be provided after your request is received.
  • NMEDW: If you are requesting access to an existing report or data set, you must be listed as a project contact on the study's IRB. Email the STU and name of the report to nmedw@northwestern.edu for access. If you would like to create a new report or data extract, complete the EDW request form.
  • i2b2: If you need help or have questions about your results, contact nmedw@northwestern.edu.
  • StudyTracker: When you log in, you will see all of the approved IRB studies that list you as a project contact. If the IRB is external, your PI or a designee can grant you access.

 I have questions about registering my study to ClinicalTrials.gov. Who can I contact?

For ClinicalTrials.gov registration and reporting requirements, contact ClinicalTrials.gov@northwestern.edu.

Publish Your Findings

 What tools can I use to measure the impact of my research?

Galter Health Science Library's Metric and Impact Core is available to assist. Galter's librarians have expertise in bibliometrics, data visualization, continuous improvement, information systems and alternative metrics. Courses that discuss research impact are also available through Galter.

Plan a Career in Research

 How far in advance should I join a grant writing group?

You should join a group at least three months before your deadline, but ideally sooner. New writers groups are formed three times per year or about four months before each major NIH submission cycle deadline. If you would like to be notified when new groups are forming, please email Dr. Rick McGee, Associate Dean for Professional Development, at r-mcgee@northwestern.edu.

 What grants are available as I transition to a faculty position?

There are a host of discipline-specific, external grants available. Your program director or mentor should be able to point you in the right direction.

Internally, NUCATS offers a Multidisciplinary Career Development Program (TL1) in Child and Adolescent Health. This award supports fellows and postdoctoral scholars in the areas of engineering and pediatrics work as they work to solve child health problems. In addition, NUCATS also has a Mentored Career Development Program (KL2) for early-career faculty conducting clinical and translational research. Both award programs provide protected research time, mentorship and career development opportunities.