Tier Advancement for Research Staff

Staff mapped into, or hired into, any of the four classifications below may be eligible:

  • Clinical Research Coordinator
  • Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator
  • Regulatory Coordinator
  • Research Program Leader

These staff are eligible if they a) have not reached the top tier for the classification (Tier 3, except in the case of Research Program Leader, which is Tier 2), b) have not received a “Needs Improvement” on their most recent performance appraisal, and c) appropriate parties believe the candidate is ready for tier advancement. Appropriate parties may include faculty, managers, and those in human resources – those who are associated with the professional development of the clinical research staff member.


Outlined below is the general process we will employ for tier advancement and tier setting.

  • Each unit is asked to designate a single point of contact (SPOC) for the tier advancement/setting rollout. (DOM SPOC: Elaina Dowdy, RPM) The SPOC will be responsible for providing CRPWG with a list which includes: the name of employees who should be included in tier assessments, employee’s DUID, employee’s email, manager name for each employee, and the manager’s email.
  • Training for managers: Training sessions will be offered to managers of employees in tiered job classifications, to cover use of a readiness tool, how to have conversations with staff about tier advancement, and details on the tier assessment process. The session will be recorded and posted here as soon as possible.
  • Starting the process within each unit: CRPWG staff will reach out to the SPOC in each department, center, and institute to get a list of employees in need of tier setting (new hires who are not yet tiered) or advancement (existing tiered employees who are deemed ready for testing and potential advancement). It is the department/center/institute’s responsibility to ensure appropriate parties (faculty, HR, others) are included in the conversation about whether an employee is ready for advancement.
  • Overview of competency assessment process (more details provided during the manager training sessions):
    • CRPWG will reach out to employees participating in tier setting or advancement. Employees will be asked to:
      • Complete the Readiness Tool with their manager.
      • Complete a REDCap survey intended to record the competencies and level at which they would like to be tested.
      • Drive the process and complete assessments in a timely manner
    • The manager will:
      • Review the employee’s REDCap survey submission and make necessary adjustments.
      • Receive the list of assessments that will need to be completed for each employee, and share that information with the employee.
      • Conduct and score relevant assessments.
      • Input the results of employee assessments by December 20th 2017.  We strongly encourage early submission to allow CRPWG ample time to review for accuracy and completeness.
    • CRPWG will:
      • Review information uploaded by managers and ensure proper scoring
      • Input scores from centrally-reviewed assessments
      • Convene committees for review of applications for staff advancing to Tier 3 (CRC, CRNCs, and Reg Coordinators) or those advancing to Research Program Leader Tier 2; input outcome of committee meetings
      • Conduct final point tally and review full application to determine tier results
      • Communicate employee results to the department/center/institute SPOC in February 2018


Staff and their managers will be notified of results of their testing. If approved for advancement, the salary increases will be as follows:

  • 3% for advancement to Tier 2
  • 5% for advancement to Tier 3, or for those advancing from a Research Program Leader Tier 1 to Research Program Leader Tier 2

Readiness Tool

Use this tool to plan for tier advancement/setting for most tiered clinical research job classifications at Duke (Clinical Research Coordinators, Clinical Research Nurse Coordinators, and Regulatory Coordinators). This is to be used by employees and their supervisors, faculty, and HR managers to decide whether tier advancement/setting is appropriate. Note – this is a self-assessment tool.  If tier advancement/setting appears to be appropriate, each employee will be evaluated using standardized assessments for the Core, Other, and Leadership competencies.  Candidates for Tier 3 will also receive committee review of their application.

Quick Guide

This guide provides at-a-glance view of the tier levels associated with each competency. It eliminates need to open every single assessment to get a sense of the estimated levels.


The DOCR website (under Tier Advancement – Processes and Tools) contains the assessments needed for tier testing. A document containing ALL available assessments and scoring guides can be found below the individual assessments.

Questions? Contact Tara Strigo, Dir of GIM Research Programs, if you have any questions about this process, and if you and/or your staff are interested in tier advancement.