Research Center

Research

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of projects are managed by the Research Center?

Projects focus on research that can be applied to improve ADOT processes and products. Research projects address the full range of topics of interest to the department. Topics are assigned to one or more focus areas: planning and environment, safety and efficiency in operation, preservation and renewal of infrastructure, and service and mobility. The minimum budget for a research project is $5,000.

A transportation research quick study (TRQS) has a budget of less than $5,000. TRQS projects are authorized at the discretion of the research director. Ideas may be presented to the research director for TRQS funding by anyone in ADOT throughout the year. The primary criteria are that the topic have a research element and that it offer a benefit to ADOT.

Who is eligible to submit a research idea?

Any transportation stakeholder, including staff of ADOT, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Councils of Governments, cities, towns, tribes, universities, and consulting firms, may suggest a topic for a research study by developing a research problem statement. Although a formal call for research ideas occurs periodically, the Research Center welcomes suggestions throughout the year.

What is the best way to develop an idea for a research project?

Research projects begin with identification of a need, problem, or question related to ADOT’s processes or products. Stakeholders are encouraged to initiate the process by contacting a Research Center project manager, who can discuss potential ideas and help to identify an appropriate sponsor and champion. Effective problem statements are often the result of a cooperative effort that includes the project manager, sponsor, and champion.

What is the role of the project sponsor and project champion?

The goal of every research project is to produce implementable results. Every project must have both an active sponsor and champion to ensure support for the project and its implementation. Research Center project managers can assist in the identification of a sponsor and champion for a research idea based on its subject matter and objectives.

A sponsor must be an ADOT employee with the authority to make decisions on a project’s recommendations, and the ability and commitment to implement them.

A champion supports the project’s objectives and enables the research activity through active participation in the project. The project champion is not required to be an employee of ADOT.

What is the difference between a problem statement and a proposal?

A problem statement suggests an idea for future research, and is presented to the Research Council for prioritization and consideration of funding. It briefly describes the existing issues that would be addressed and the objectives that would be met by the suggested research. It typically does not prescribe a methodology or call for the use of specific products or providers. In general, a problem statement raises questions that would be answered by the suggested research, but does not presume to know the answers.

A proposal is submitted by a potential contractor in response to a task assignment or request for proposals for a specific research project. The contractor proposes a work plan, budget, and schedule with the intent of meeting stated specifications. Principal investigators for research projects are selected through this process.

What is the role of Research Advisory Committee?

The Research Advisory Committee comprises staff from the Research Center, various ADOT Divisions, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The committee works cooperatively to identify and prioritize the department’s research needs. Working in an advisory capacity, members review problem statements for new research, and provide guidance to the research program overall. Membership is voluntary and is intended to represent a wide variety of fields and interests within the department. 

How is research funded at ADOT?

The FHWA State Planning and Research (SPR) program funds most research projects. Those projects are designated as “SPR” plus a project number assigned by the Research Center, e.g, SPR-595.