Research Space Management

University of Kentucky - College of Medicine - Research Space Policy

Click here for the PDF version of the Research Space Policy

I. Purpose and Guiding Principles

The College of Medicine promotes a diverse and inclusive environment that provides excellence in education, equitable health care, and transformative research to improve the health and wellness of Kentuckians and beyond.

To this end, responsible, appropriate, strategic, and timely management of research space is requisite to the success of the research mission. As the COM’s research programs continue to grow, space is required for new and existing faculty. One of the major limiting resources for COM research initiatives is space. Therefore, research space (for both basic science and clinical research) needs to be allocated, used, and managed, with a view toward promoting the overall vision and strategic goals of the COM. There needs to be a framework for uniform, equitable, transparent, easy-to-understand, and effective governance of all space throughout the College of Medicine. The framework needs to be consistently applied across the COM and in line with Office of the Vice President for Research (VPR) policies. Lastly, there needs to be an efficient process for managing space that encourages the faculty to engage in research at the COM.

II. Governance

The allocation and management of research space in the College of Medicine is governed by the Dean and informed by the Research Space Management Committee (RSMC). The RSMC provides guidance on wet lab, dry lab, clinical, office, and student space used for research. The RSMC recommends new or revised space assignments to the Dean as well as processes, such as space assessment, for implementation by the Dean’s Office. This includes recommendations related to space that the RSMC deems is inappropriately utilized, after having reviewed qualitative and quantitative metrics. The Dean and Dean’s Office has ultimate authority to reclaim and allocate space and may do so at his/her discretion in extenuating circumstances.

In addition to its responsibilities for informing the allocation and management of research space in the COM, the RSMC advises other groups and committees involved in the management of overall university and/or COM space. The RSMC will also work with UK Healthcare leadership as needed to manage clinical research space.

See Research Space Governance companion document for additional details on the makeup and structure of the Research Space Management Committee.

III. Research Space Evaluation Criteria

The following basic metrics have been established to provide the COM with a common method for measuring research space usage. However, the selected metrics will not be the only criteria for evaluating space nor the sole reason for allocating or reallocating space. The RSMC may review and consider other data elements in its evaluation.


  • Research dollar density (wet laboratory)
  • Active-research personnel density (dry laboratory) 

Other Important Measures

  • Active-research personnel density (wet laboratory)
  • Proposal submissions
  • Quality of research space
  • Approved new hires 

IV. Research Space Evaluation Process

The RSMC will evaluate wet laboratory, dry laboratory, and clinical research space separately. The RSMC will conduct its review on an annual basis using data that has been verified by the units prior to the review. The RSMC will review research dollar density as the primary measure of wet laboratory research space productivity. However, other important measures of research space productivity will be considered. The RSMC will evaluate units’ performance against selected COM productivity targets as outlined in section V. Research Space Allocation Basis and Process. The RSMC will evaluate dry laboratory research space primarily using personnel density metrics in line with the procedures developed by the UK COM Strategic Plan Facilities Work Group. 

A.  Wet Laboratory Research Space Evaluation

Primary Measure of Research Space Productivity

The primary measure for wet laboratory research space productivity is research dollar density, which is calculated as follows: 

Modified total direct costs (MTDC)* for projects taking place in wet laboratory space ($) Sq. ft. of wet laboratory space** (NASF)

The target for wet lab space is $300. The metric will be evaluated using a three-year rolling average.

In practice for wet lab space, a modular RO1 would result in two (2) bench sides in BBSRB, one (1) lab module including the lab and office areas in HSRB, Wethington, and the newer section of the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging.

Other Important Measures of Productivity to Consider

The RSMC will also consider other important measures of productivity:

o             Active-researcher Personnel density

                       The count of researchers per the UK payroll working in the unit’s occupied research space.

o             Proposal submissions

                       The count of proposal submissions by the unit. The RSMC will also consider the types of proposals submitted and, to the extent possible, the                                    likelihood of the proposals being funded (i.e., quality).

o             Quality of research space

                       The RSMC may consider the quality, age, and layout of research space when considering a unit’s ability to meet the research dollar density                                      target.

o             Approved new hires

                       The RSMC may consider a unit’s approved new hires when evaluating research space and recommending whether reclaiming a unit’s space is                                appropriate.

 *Note: training grants, fellowships, and the first $25,000 of a subaward are included in the expenditure calculation (see Research Space Definitions for additional details). Modified total direct costs are sponsored expenditures and not awarded amounts.

**Note: The combined net assignable square footage of research/non-class wet laboratory space (eBARS 251) and research/non-class wet laboratory service (eBARS 256) will be the wet laboratory space evaluation criterion. (see Research Space Definitions for additional details).

B. Dry Laboratory Research Space Evaluation

The RSMC will evaluate dry laboratory research space primarily using personnel density metrics in line with the procedures developed by the UK COM Strategic Plan Facilities Work Group. The RSMC may also consider proposal submissions, quality of space, and approved new hires in its evaluation of dry laboratory space. 

C. Clinical Research Space

The RSMC will review the active clinical research taking place in the clinical research space occupied to assess clinical research space needs and requirements. Clinical research space (both inpatient and outpatient) is at a premium, and the COM needs to manage this space carefully. Ad hoc requests for near-term clinical research space needs should go through the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), which has inpatient and outpatient facilities available as a fee for service through its clinical services core. For longer-term clinical research space needs, units may work with the RSMC.

Units may also identify other types of quantitative or qualitative information to aid in assessments of research space productivity and assignments or to establish internal target goals to support their needs and priorities.

V. Research Space Allocation Basis and Process

A. Research Space Allocation Basis 

Laboratory and Clinical Research Space: Unit leaders will be responsible for allocating net assignable square footage (NASF) that is appropriate to faculty needs. Unit leaders will submit a strategic plan for space usage to the RSMC on an annual basis. The plan should include any requests for new space or adjustments to currently occupied space.

The RSMC will conduct an annual review of all research and associated spaces. Unit leaders will verify all data (including sponsored expenditures and occupied space) provided by the RSMC. If changes to the data are requested, the unit should provide the RSMC a detailed explanation.

Following verification of data, the RSMC will meet with unit leaders (or representative group) as needed to review research space usage metrics data. The RSMC informed by the selected metrics will determine if research space usage is satisfactory.

If a unit is 25% below the primary space productivity target (and other important measures and mitigating factors have been thoroughly considered), the Dean’s Office may reclaim space from that unit.

The Dean’s Office may reclaim up to 50% of a unit’s “deficit.” For example, the target amount of MTDC for a unit with 1,000 sq. ft. of research space is $300,000k. If that unit only has $200,000 in MTDC (RDD of $200/NASF), they would have a deficit of 333.3 sq. ft. of space. ($200K divided by ($300/NASF) equals 666.6 sq. ft. of space. Current space of 1,000 sq. ft. less 666.6 sq. ft. space needed equals a 333.3 sq. ft. “deficit”). The Dean’s Office would be able to reclaim 166.5 sq. ft. of space.

If space utilization is not satisfactory, unit leaders will be required to submit a revised plan for space utilization within 2 weeks of receiving notification. The revised plan should detail strategic reallocation of space if substantiated, with the understanding that space assignment may decrease.

Units that materially exceed research space metric targets may consider requesting additional space. Requests for increased space allocations, with justification that details current space usage and supports the need for increased space allocations should be submitted to the RSMC.

Other Space

Core and common equipment space is included in the departmental space allocation unless it is associated with a facility managed by the Dean’s Office or the VPR.

Office and desk space will be assigned based on COM Policies.

B. Research Space Allocation Process (Annual and Interim)

Space will be allocated to (or reclaimed from) each unit by the Dean’s Office informed by the RSMC’s annual review.

In some circumstances, it may be necessary to allocate or reclaim research space during the year. In such cases, the RSMC will not be reconvened. The Dean’s Office will work with facilities to make the required research space management decisions.

Research space allocated to a faculty member who departs COM will revert to the Dean’s Office to be reallocated following a conversation between the unit leader and Dean’s Office. Reallocation will be based on demonstrated need. Units are expected to verify all data prior to the research space assessments.

The Dean’s Office will hold approximately 10% of research space in a strategic reserve. The Dean’s Office will allocate this space at its discretion.

VI. Space Survey Frequency

The COM will conduct an annual survey of all research associated space (laboratory, offices, and conference rooms). The COM will give units an opportunity to review and verify assignments prior to incorporating data into any metrics or evaluation.

VII. Space Survey/Evaluation Timeline

August - COM will collate FY research expenses and space survey.

September 1st - Data will be sent to Chairs/Directors and Administrators for verification.

Mid-September - Deadline for return of corrections.

October - Data presented at COC.

Mid October - Letters from COM sent to Chairs/Directors with research space strategy. 

Research Space Definitions

Modified Total Direct Costs (MTDC)

MTDC means all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, services, travel, and subawards and subcontracts up to the first $25,000 of each subaward or subcontract (regardless of the period of performance of the subawards and subcontracts under the award). MTDC excludes equipment, capital expenditures, charges for patient care, rental costs, tuition remission, scholarships and fellowships, participant support costs and the portion of each subaward and subcontract in excess of $25,000. Other items may only be excluded when necessary to avoid a serious inequity in the distribution of indirect costs, and with the approval of the cognizant agency for indirect costs. MTDC is calculated based on expenditures, not award amounts.

eBARS 251 – Research/Non-class Wet Laboratory

Definition: A room used primarily for laboratory experimentation, research, training in research methodology, or structured creative activity that requires special-purpose equipment (such as biological safety cabinets, bench space, sinks, bench-top equipment, fume hoods) and/or special-purpose utilities (e.g. piped services and multiple power outlets). The procedures in these rooms typically involve liquids, often chemicals, and/or research specimens.

eBARS 252 – Research/Non-class Dry Laboratory

Definition: Rooms used for laboratory application, research, and/or training in research methodology; or professional examination or observation that does not require special-purpose equipment like sinks or fume hoods, nor does it require special piped utility services. The procedures in these rooms would include documentation research, statistical data, behavioral/opinion interviews, or the use of electronic/technology equipment not requiring wet lab services to support that equipment. In loose terms, dry laboratory spaces have similarities to space types often found in office buildings. 

Description (251 & 252): A research/non-class laboratory is designed or equipped for faculty, staff, and students for the conduct of research and controlled or structured creative activities. These activities are generally confined to faculty, staff and assigned graduate students and are applicable to any academic discipline. Activities may include experimentation, application, observation, composition, or research training in a structured environment directed by one or more faculty or principal investigator(s). These activities do not include practice or independent study projects and activities which, although delivering "new knowledge" to a student, are not intended for a broader academic (or sponsoring) community (e.g., a presentation or publication). This category includes labs that are used for experiments, testing or "dry runs" in support of instructional, research or public service activities. Non-class public service laboratories which promote new knowledge in academic fields (e.g., animal diagnostic laboratories, cooperative extension laboratories) are included in this category. 

Limitation (251 & 252): Student practice activity rooms should be classified under Open Laboratory (220). A combination office/music or art studio or combination office/research laboratory should be coded according to its primary use. Determination also should be made whether the "studio" or "research lab" component involves developing new knowledge (or extending the application or distribution of existing knowledge) for a broader academic or sponsoring community (and not merely for the practitioner), or the activity is merely practice or learning within the applied instructional process. Primary use should be the determining criterion in either case. Does not include testing or monitoring facilities (e.g., seed sampling, water, or environmental testing rooms) that are part of an institution's Central Service (750) system. Also, does not include the often unstructured, spontaneous, or improvisational creative activities of learning and practice within the performing arts, which take place in (scheduled) Class Laboratories (210) or, if not specifically scheduled, (practice) Open Laboratories (220). Such performing arts (and other science and non-science) activities, which are controlled or structured to the extent that they are intended to produce a specific research or experimental outcome (e.g., a new or advanced technique), are included in the Research/Non-class Laboratory (250) category.

eBARS 256 – Research/Non-class Wet Laboratory Service

Definition: A room that directly serves one or more research/non-class wet laboratories as an extension of the activities in those rooms.

eBARS 257 – Research/Non-class Dry Laboratory Service

Definition: A room that directly serves one or more research/non-class dry labs as an extension of the activities in those rooms.

Description (256 & 257): Includes only those rooms that directly serve a research/non-class laboratory. Included are projection rooms, telecommunications control booths, coat rooms, preparation rooms, closets, material storage, balance rooms, cold rooms, stock rooms, dark rooms, equipment issue rooms, temporary hazardous materials storage areas, and similar facilities, if they serve research/non-class laboratories.

Limitation (256 &257): Does not include service rooms that support classrooms (see 115), Class Laboratories (215), or Open Laboratories (225). Animal Quarters (570), Greenhouses (580), and Central Service (750) facilities are categorized separately.