1. Call for IDOT Research Ideas
IDOT establishes Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs), one for each research focus area. Each TAG is comprised of representatives from IDOT, academia, industry, and government agencies who have expertise in that specific research area. TAGs identify specific transportation needs as priorities for new research. ICT then posts these research needs on the ICT website (typically by August 15) and invites interested parties to submit their research ideas for consideration by downloading the Proposed Research Idea Statement. IDOT encourages potential researchers to collaborate with IDOT staff in order to ensure that the proposal will meet IDOT’s needs. The submission deadline is October 1.
2. Evaluation of Research Ideas Submitted
After each Call for Research Ideas deadline (typically October 1), TAGs will review the Proposed Research Idea Statements in their focus areas, prioritize them, and recommend projects to the IDOT/ICT Executive Committee for funding consideration.
3. Selection of Funded Research Projects
The IDOT/ICT Executive Committee makes the final decision on which Proposed Research Ideas are funded as research projects administered by ICT. The ICT Executive Committee is chaired by IDOT’s Director of Planning and Programming and is comprised of the ICT Director, upper level IDOT management, TAG Chairs and an FHWA representatives.
4. Selection of the Project Technical Review Panel
For each IDOT-funded research project, IDOT appoints a Technical Review Panel (TRP), chaired by an IDOT staff member, to oversee and guide the research. TRP members are selected based upon their expertise to ensure that a diverse group of subject matter experts is on each panel. Each TRP is responsible for reviewing and approving the research work plan, budget, project deliverables and final report, as well as providing regular feedback to the researchers. The TRP also prepares and administers a research implementation plan.
5. Selection of the Principal Investigator
The Principal Investigator (PI) can be a researcher from the University of Illinois, another university, another agency, or a consultant. IDOT determines if there are known researchers from the University of Illinois who can serve as the PI for each research project. In cases where selection of a suitable researcher is not clear, ICT issues a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) open to any researcher to respond. These RFPs are widely advertised and posted on the ICT website. The project’s TRP then reviews all proposals received and recommends a proposal for development of a contract. In case of equivalent proposals, preference will be given to in-state educational institutions.
6. Work Plan Preparation
Once a PI is selected for a research project, the PI works with the TRP to develop a detailed work plan, which includes budget, deliverables and implementation strategy.
7. Project Research
It is recommended that the research team and TRP meet quarterly to discuss the project’s progress. The PIs are required to keep accurate records of their data analysis and work performed, and submit brief quarterly reports on their research progress. Each project’s status and most recent quarterly report is available from IDOT upon request.
8. Completed Projects
After the researcher completes his/her project and is ready to disseminate the findings and conclusions, (s)he works with the TRP and the Technical Communications Specialist to finalize the project report, which is posted to the ICT website and submitted to TRID.
IDOT and the PI work throughout the project to identify implementable deliverables and expected benefits from each project. The PI often assists in providing deliverable outputs that can be easily incorporated into IDOT’s policies and procedures. IDOT staff spearheads the research implementation, putting the research into practice.