Frequently Asked Questions Committee Research Coordinators (CRC)

  • What is the purpose of the Back-to-Basics Initiative and who can I contact to learn about this initiative?

The purpose of the Back-to-Basics initiative is to foster and nurture TRB committees’ contributions to transportation research. This initiative provides standing TRB committees, through the Committee Research Coordinators (CRCs), with the knowledge, resources, tools and tips to develop and maintain robust research portfolios, more effectively advancing research needs from idea through the conduct of research and sharing of results.

For more information, contact the CRC Council Member representing your TRB committee Group, the CRC Council chair, or TRB staff.

  • What are the CRC and CRC Council roles and how do these roles relate to TRB Committee Chairs?

The CRC for each committee is the point person for the committee’s research activities, but is not expected to be the lead for all research activities; it takes a whole committee. CRCs assist their committees with the following research activities:

        • Identifying research needs

        • Developing research needs statements

        • Communicating, coordinating, and collaborating on research needs among TRB committees

        • Seeking funding sources

        • Submitting RNSs to relevant research funding programs

        • Sharing of information about research needs, research in progress, and recently completed research

        • Developing and maintaining robust research portfolios

The purpose of the CRC Council is to provide guidance, resources, and training to the CRCs. Additionally, the CRC Council acts as a liaison between TRB and the CRCs. Committee Chairs should assign a CRC for their committees and provide time at committee meetings to discuss research activities.

  • How can I find others with related research needs?

CRCs can search the Research Needs Statements (RNS) Database. Committees with similar needs may consider co-sponsoring each other’s RNS or even combining their RNS.

  • How can I find out if my research topic is already being or has already been conducted?

There are a number of ways to identify active and completed research, including:

  • How can I identify other TRB committees who might want to co-sponsor my RNS?

A CRC can identify committees with similar research interests by searching the above research needs, active research, and completed research resources. Additionally, a CRC can contact a CRC from a TRB committee that may have interest in that research. For example, a rail committee with a research needs statement regarding grade crossings might want to reach out to the pedestrian and bicycle committees as well as other committees with rail interests to explore the idea of co-sponsoring an RNS. A CRC can also reach out to his/her CRC Council representative for ideas on committees within that group who may be interested in co-sponsoring an RNS. Also, see the CRC Resources page.

  • How can I learn more about developing RNS?

There are a number of resources for developing RNS:

  • How can I learn about transportation funding programs?

An overview of the available research funding programs is provided here which will help you understand the type of project each program supports. In addition, TRB webinars about funding programs are available here.

  • Why aren’t RNS automatically submitted to funding programs?

There are different funding programs with different requirements. A generic RNS cannot be developed to meet all of the requirements for all funding programs. Also, TRB committees cannot submit to all funding programs, notably, NCHRP. TRB committees must actively submit their RNS for funding. CRCs should work with their committees to identify funding programs to submit their RNSs for funding consideration. Your first search for funding program information should be here.

  • How can I find funding program deadline information?

Check out the funding guidebook and the funding program deadline calendar. If your funding program is not listed, visit the website for the funding program of interest.

  • How can I get feedback from funding programs?

Feedback from various funding programs is available from the respective contacts for each program. TRB Cooperative Research Programs (CRPs) deadlines can be found here. If you do not obtain a response within a reasonable amount of time, you should reach out to the CRC Council Member representing your TRB committee Group, the CRC Council chair, or TRB staff. See the funding guidebook and individual funding program websites for more information. Finally, for successful practices and tools, click here.

  • How can I monitor/track relevant research?

When your committee successfully obtains funding for a research need identified and fostered through the process by your committee, your committee should have a representative on the research oversight panel (if applicable). This helps to ensure the research continues to meet the needs of your committee and allows your committee to monitor the research as it is conducted. Information on current research projects can be tracked through TRB’s Research in Progress (RiP) Database. Also, see successful practices and tools on the CRC Resources web page.

  • How can I track committee success in developing and maintain its research portfolio?

You can view potential committee metrics here.

  • Why do we have CRCs when we have research subcommittees?

Not all TRB committees have subcommittees. However, for committees with subcommittees, many times a member of research subcommittees is the CRC. The CRC role provides a mechanism to access resources and other assistance in developing and maintaining a robust research portfolio. If the CRC is not a member of the Research Subcommittee, there should be close communication and coordination between the two. If a committee has a research subcommittee, the CRC will work with that committee to identify research needs and develop research needs statements. Additionally, the CRC will communicate, coordinate, and collaborate on research needs among TRB committees. The CRC helps enhance the sharing of information about research needs, research in progress, and recently completed research. Additionally, CRCs assist in enhancing the probability of research being funded by actively seeking out funding sources and submitting RNS to relevant research funding programs.

  • Where can I find more information on the Back-to-Basics initiative, CRCs, and other information?

Visit the CRC homepage here.