Tier Advancement


Recent Updates

Tier Advancement Open 2021:Thank you all for your patience and continued collaboration around the Workforce Engagement and Resilience initiative. We are excited to announce the opening up of Tier Advancement for 2021.

Distinction between Chose not to Test and Does Not Meet Fundamental (5/10/2021): Please be aware that this year we are implementing a defined difference between employees who "chose not to test" on an assessment and "does not meet fundamental" on an assessment. If you choose not to take an assessment that you had previously indicated you would take, please do not include that item in your Box folder. If the assessment that you decided not to take is included during your manager review, your manager should remove it from your folder. The manager should also mark the assessment as "chose not to test" in the REDCap results form. If an assessment is turned in and has any marking, signing, etc. on it, the assessment will be marked as does not meet Fundamental by the WE-R team.

Proctored Testing During COVID-19 (5/10/21): This year we are using the Duke Testing Center for remote proctored testing. In order to schedule an appointment, complete the Qualtrics form at this link at least one week in advance of your testing date. The Testing Center will use this form to create an appointment to send to you using Outlook calendar. This invite will contain the time and date as well as the Zoom link that you will be asked to sign into during your appointment. 8 people may sign up per proctored testing session.

You are able to break up testing sessions if you have 4 or more tests to take. Each set of 4 may be broken out into a single session.

  • Ex: I have 6 tests to take. I can take 4 in one session and schedule a second session for the remaining 2.
  • Ex: I have 4 tests to take. I need to take them all in one session.

You may schedule an appointment at any time via the link above. Tests will be administered, and should be completed, during the following dates:June 7th through July 16th

Professional Certifications Credit Towards Tier Advancement (3/15/20): Please do not forget to check out our new FAQ on professional certifications (ACRP and SOCRA) and how they play into Tier Advancement. 

New training has been added! Click below to check it out!

Tier Advancement Process

Cycles of Tier Advancement

Tier Advancement is offered once annually. Employees may complete assessments, and managers may score them, at any time during the year.  Proctored testing is held only during the Tier Advancement cycles. Managers are encouraged to use the assessments as tools for onboarding, training, and evaluating staff performance.

Eligibility (official policy can be found here)

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

  • Clinical Research Coordinator (1201)
  • Clinical Research Nurse Coordinator (1203)
  • Regulatory Coordinator (1219)
  • Research Program Leader (1280)

These staff are eligible if they:

  • Have not reached the top tier for the classification (Tier 3, except in the case of Research Program Leader, which is Tier 2).
  • Have not received an overall “Needs Improvement” on their most recent performance appraisal or mid-year review (if applicable) prior to announcing intent to go through tier advancement.
  • 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.


Process Overview

  • The RPM will be responsible for serving as the Single Point of Contact (SPOC; official policy can be found here) and completing a REDCap survey for each employee applying for Tier Advancement. The link to complete this survey can be located on the RPM Wiki.  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.
  • WE-R will contact employees participating in tier advancement. Employees will:
    • Complete a survey 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 survey submission and make necessary adjustments.
    • Review with the employee the list of assessments that will need to be completed.
    • Conduct and score relevant assessments.
    • Input the results of employee assessments into REDCap by the cycle due date.  We strongly encourage early submissions.
  • WE-R will:
    • Input scores from centrally-reviewed and proctored assessments.
    • Confirm final point tally.
    • 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.
    • Communicate employee results to the department/center/institute RPM in October. It is the department/center/institute’s responsibility to share the results with the employee.


Tiering Results & Salary Implications

Staff and their managers will be notified of results of their testing in September, with an expected effective date of November 1st. 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


Tier Advancement Tools and Assessments


Welcome Packets

These documents provide employees and managers with a comprehensive look at the Tier Advancement process.

Employee Welcome Packets

CRC, CRNC, and Regulatory Coordinator Welcome Packet
Research Program Leader Welcome Packet

Manager Welcome Packets

Manager of CRC, CRNC, and Regulatory Coordinator Welcome Packet
Manager of Research Program Leader Welcome Packet


Sign Up for Office Hours

Virtual Office hours for WE-R Tier Advancement will be held every Monday (with the exception of Holidays), 12PM-1PM, from May 31 to August 30. We will speak individually with people who have questions; please prepare your questions in advance. To sign up for a 15 minute slot, click this link. Sign up for Office Hours. A WE-R team member will call you during your designated time. If you become unavailable during your selected time, please contact WER-jobs@dm.duke.edu.


Readiness Tool

Use this tool to plan for Tier Advancement for clinical research job classifications at Duke. This is to be used by employees and their supervisors, faculty, and HR managers to decide whether tier advancement is appropriate. Note – this is a self-assessment tool. Candidates applying for Tier 3, and Tier 2 for RPLs, will also receive committee review of their application.  

CRC, CRNC, and Regulatory Coordinator Readiness Tool
Research Program Leader Readiness Tool


Certifications in relation to Tier Advancement: 

As part of Tier Advancement for CRCs, CRNCs, and Regulatory Coordinators, staff members who have been certified through ACRP or SOCRA will receive credit. Staff will receive two points for being certified through ACRP or SOCRA and uploading documentation of said certification during their next Tier Advancement cycle. In addition, staff may receive an additional two points for maintaining their certification for at least one certification renewal cycle (refer to ACRP and SOCRA guidelines for this). Staff may receive a max of four points throughout Tier Advancement. An FAQ has been posted. If you have additional questions, please email WER-jobs@dm.duke.edu

Note: Please do not submit to Tier Advancement just to add these points.




Below are the assessments for tier advancement. If you have questions, please contact wer-jobs@duke.edu.

Note: * This is a proctored assessment and learning objectives are provided below.


Research Operations


Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing

Contracts and Agreements *

WE-R Knowledge

FDA Regulatory Submissions

Manager Self-Report

Institutional Regulatory Policies and Processes *

WE-R Knowledge

International Regulatory Documentation

Manager Self Report

Investigational Products *

WE-R Knowledge

Monitoring and Audits

Manager Self Report

Participant Level Documentation

Manager Self Report

Participant Retention

Manager Self Report


Manager Self Report


Manager Self Report


Manager Self Report

Specimen Management

Manager Self Report

Study Level Documentation *

WE-R Knowledge

Study Visits

Manager Self Report

Team Meetings

Manager Self Report


Safety and Ethics


Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing

Adverse Events *

WE-R Knowledge

Consent Procedures

Manager Direct Observation

Development of Informed Consent Doc and Plan *

WE-R Knowledge

Navigating the Ethics Review Process (IRB)


Sponsor/Regulatory Reporting *

WE-R Knowledge




Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing

Data Collection and Entry

Manager Self Report

Data Quality Assurance

Manager Self Report

Data Security and Provenance *

WE-R Knowledge

Mapping Data Flow *

WE-R Case Study

Technology Use and Innovation

Manager Self Report


Scientific Concepts


Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing

Funding Proposal Development

Manager Self Report

Literature Reviews

Manager Self Report

Protocol Development

Manager Self Report

Research Design *

WE-R Knowledge

Scholarly Works

Manager Self Report


Site and Study Management


Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing
Coordination with Sponsor/CRO Manager Self Report

Electronic Management of Research Participants

WE-R Knowledge
Electronic Management of Research Protocols WE-R Knowledge


Manager Self Report

Managing Resources

Manager Self Report

Managing Risk

Manager Self Report

Operational Plans

Manager Self Report

Study Closeout

Manager Self Report


Expert/Senior and Other


Competency assessment or guideline
Scored by
Mode of testing


Manager Self Report


Manager Self Report


**Employees may only test for one “Other Competency”. Employees and managers will alert WE-R to the chosen “other competency” via a separate process, using this survey: Other Competency REDCap Survey. This survey will need to be completed with both manager and employee present no later than May 22nd to be considered for approval. You will receive an email from WER-jobs@duke.edu with a final determination by May 29th.


Competency assessments for RPLs

Complete this template, upload into your Box folder

Leadership assessments for RPLs

Complete this template, upload into your Box folder

Leadership assessments for CRCs, CRNCs, Reg Coordinators seeking Tier 3

Complete this template, upload into your Box folder


Guidelines for Portfolio Submissions

Cover page for RPLs
Guidelines for RPLs
Cover page for CRC, CRNC, Reg Coordinators seeking Tier 3
Guidelines CRC, CRNC, Reg Coordinators seeking Tier 3


Tier Advancement Training

Training for Tier Advancement



Training for All Staff and Managers


Tier Advancement Overview: This course will provide an overview of the Tier Advancement process and tips on how to navigate the Duke Office of Clinical Research Workforce Engagement and Resilience (WE-R) web page to access important tools and resources available.



Training for Managers


Self Report Assessment and Scoring Guide for Managers: This self guided course provides a detailed look at the Self Report Assessment that is used during the Tier Advancement process. This course is intended for managers, to understand how the form is completed by employees, and how the form is used to assess competency levels.



Difficult Conversations: Tier Advancement Guide for Managers: This course will provide Duke Clinical Research Managers with resources, best practices, and communication tips for potentially difficult conversations they may face before, during, and after the Tier Advancement process.



Training for RPM/ARPM


RPM/ARPM Overview of WE-R Initiatives and Tier Advancement Responsibilities: This course will introduce new RPMs and ARPMs to responsibilities related to WE-R initiatives and the tier advancement process as a whole.



Tier Advancement FAQ

Certification Related to Tier Advancement


Where will I record this information?
In the beginning of the next cycle of Tier Advancement that you apply for, you will be sent a REDCap survey to record the competencies and levels that you would like to test for. On the first page of that survey, is a demographic section. Here you will be asked if you have a certification through SOCRA or ACRP. If you answer yes, you will be prompted to upload documentation of your certification. You will then be asked if you have maintained the certification for at least one renewal cycle. If you answer yes, you will be prompted to upload documentation of our maintenance.

If I am ACRP and SOCRA certified, do I receive two points for each?
No, you will receive credit for one or the other. You may receive the additional two points for either of the certifications if you have maintained for at least one renewal cycle.

If I was certified in the past, but did not maintain the certification, can I still receive credit towards Tier Advancement?
As long as you have documentation of this, you are able to receive the two points for being certified.

If I am currently certified, do I need to submit documentation if I am not applying to tier right away?
No, in the beginning of the next cycle of Tier Advancement that you apply for, you will be asked for this information.

Does this apply for Tier Advancement for Research Program Leaders?
Research Program Leaders do not receive points, however they are encouraged to submit documentation with their portfolio if they are certified.

What if the renewal cycles are different for ACRP and SOCRA?
You should refer to the ACRP or SCORA requirements. They are on different certification renewal cycles.