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Section 2: Definitions

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  • TxDOT’s guideline provided for University Liaisons as a quick reference and to ensure standards for administering projects specific to the Research and Technology Implementation Division (RTI).
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  • The University Handbook is located on RTI’s Publication page on's website.
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  • RTI sends the University Handbook to university liaisons as updates become available.
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Research is a systematic controlled inquiry, often involving analytical or experimental activities, which seeks to gain new knowledge and which may involve the development of new or revised products.

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  • Basic Research is the study of phenomena to gain knowledge. A specific application may not have been identified.
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  • Applied Research is a project directed at solving a specific current problem and which usually results in the development of products ready for implementation.
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  • State-of-the-Art or Practice Surveys and Studies are studies used to gather existing information relative to an existing problem to assist in implementation or to better plan, direct, or focus research.
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  • Development is the translation of new knowledge into a product and may include the following:
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    • Research Field Testing is to develop or modify a product at a test facility, or in TxDOT’s operational environment.
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    • Excluded is Software Program Development which solely automates the use of existing technology, formulae, knowledge, and methods.
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Implementation is the adoption of a product for use, including Technology Transfer activities that promote adoption, such as the following:

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  • Information Dissemination includes the development and distribution of brochures, manuals, articles, reports, videos, and other materials which provide product descriptions and instructions to enable and promote use.
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  • Training includes training course development and conduct necessary to enable and promote use.
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  • Demonstration is the placing of a product into TxDOT’s operational environment to demonstrate its use, which includes the following:
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    • Deployment is the initial procurement and dissemination of a product to users.
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    • Implementation Field Testing is the demonstration or verification of product performance in TxDOT’s operational environment.
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A product of the research program may be a new or revised procedure, process, field guide, design, standard detail or drawing, device, material, standard test method, specification, video, data collection, training material, or training class.

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Field Testing

Field Testing is placing a product into a test facility or TxDOT’s operating environment for further development (research), or into TxDOT’s operating environment to demonstrate performance (implementation).

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Technology Readiness Level

A method for measuring the maturity of technologies during the acquisition phase of a program. The use of TRLs enables consistent, uniform discussions of technical maturity across different types of technology. A technology's TRL is determined during a Technology Readiness Assessment that examines program concepts, technology requirements, and demonstration capabilities. TRLs are based on a scale from 1 to 9 with 9 being the most mature technology.

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FHWA Definitions (23 CFR §420.203)

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  • Research means a systematic study directed toward fuller scientific knowledge or understanding of the subject studied. Research can be basic or applied.
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  • Basic research means the study of phenomena, and of observable facts, without specific applications towards processes or products in mind; the primary purpose of this kind of research is to increase knowledge.
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  • Applied research means the study of phenomena to gain knowledge or understanding necessary for determining the means by which a recognized need may be met; the primary purpose of this kind of research is to answer a question or solve a problem.
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  • Development means the systematic use of the knowledge or understanding gained from research, directed toward the production of useful materials, devices, systems, or methods, including design and development of prototypes and processes.
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  • Technology Transfer means those activities that lead to the adoption of a new technique or product by users, and involves dissemination, demonstration, training, and other activities that lead to eventual innovation.
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  • Research, Development, and Technology Transfer (RD&T) activity means a basic or applied research project or study, development, or technology transfer activity.
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