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Press Releases
NOVA Presents QDS-Web™ at APHA 2011

Archived News Releases
NOVA Introduces QDS™ Down Under

NOVA's QDS–HAPI™ for Pocket PC Used in South African Schools—June 14, 2005

NOVA Introduces QDS™ Version 2.4—April 25, 2005

QDS™ Newsletters
QDS™ Newsletter June 2014
QDS™ Newsletter January 2012
QDS™ Newsletter February 2008
QDS™ Newsletter Spring 2007
QDS™ Newsletter Summer 2006
QDS™ Newsletter November 2005
QDS™ Newsletter May 2005
QDS™ Newsletter February 2005
QDS™ Newsletter January 2004

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please contact:

Peggy Young
NOVA Research Company
801 Roeder Road
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Silver Spring, MD 20910
Direct: 240-483-4184

Frequently Asked Questions


What type of organization is NOVA Research Company (NOVA)?

NOVA Research Company provides innovative technology, consulting, and research support services to the global health and research communities. NOVA is a woman-owned business founded in 1986.
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What types of clinical and research studies has NOVA been involved in?

NOVA has supported numerous intramural and extramural research studies in: Adolescent Mental Health; Cancer; HIV/AIDS; Minority Health; Sexually Transmitted Diseases; Substance Abuse; Tobacco Cessation Studies; Technology Transfer; and Women's Health.
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Who are NOVA's target and current customers?

NOVA has worked with leading commercial research organizations, over two dozen Federal, state, and local government agencies, and 31 academic research institutions worldwide. NOVA's client list includes:

  • Government Agencies—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); National Cancer Institute (NCI); National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS); National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); U.S. General Services Administration (GSA); and the U.S. Department of Labor, among others.
  • Universities and Academic Research Institutions—prominent domestic and international universities and their research institutions, such as The University of Texas; The Cancer Institute of New Jersey; University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and San Francisco (UCSF); Northwestern University; Oklahoma University; University of Toronto; University of Puerto Rico; University of Cape Town; The University of London; Columbia University; Emory University; University of Kentucky; The Johns Hopkins University; University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMB); and Yale.
  • Private and Commercial Research Organizations—Institute for Community Research, Hartford, Connecticut; National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI), New York, New York; RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, California; Academy for Educational Development (AED); and the Montebello Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
  • Nonprofit, Trade, and Professional Associations—American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO); Imagination Stage, a theatre arts organization; National Council of State Boards of Nursing; and National Contract Management Association, Bethesda/Medical Chapter.
  • International Organizations—The Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa; and the World Health Organization (WHO).
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Who are the typical end users of NOVA's products and services?

The primary users of NOVA's products and services are researchers, scientists, and agency and technical staff at government agencies working in the biomedical and behavioral health industries. Typical users include:

  • Agencies—program directors, program scientists, program officers, and their staff.
  • Scientists and Researchers—behavioral researchers, biostatisticians, clinical researchers, counselors, epidemiologists, evaluation specialists, field-site principal investigators, health and science writers, health services researchers, physicians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and project directors, evaluators, and investigators.
  • Technical Staff—application and statistical programmers; data specialists; database, data management, and evaluation specialists; systems analysts; and Web application programmers.
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What types of services does NOVA provide?

NOVA provides services in five business areas:

Research and Research Support Services
Program Planning and Evaluation Services
Health Information Technology
Health and Scientific Communications
Meetings, Conferences, and Exhibits

I.   Research and Research Support Services—NOVA provides highly customized research and research support services for a wide range of grant studies and contracts for various organizations. Such services include:

  • Research for R01 and R03 Federal grant studies—NOVA has supported research studies funded by several R01 and R03 grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that investigate community-based interventions to reduce substance abuse, increase use of clean needles among injecting drug users, and increase safe sex practices for those at high risk for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. NOVA analyzed data; developed home-page configurations for Internet retrieval of data; monitored adherence to risk-reduction protocols by drug users; performed data collection; studied the context and organization of male prostitution as it relates to HIV risk reduction; and participated in community-based, multimethod research studies.
  • Patient Recruiting—NOVA staff provide advertising, telephone and in-person screening, physical exams, psychological testing, and counseling for studies conducted by NIDA's Intramural Research Program researchers.
  • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and contracts—NOVA has successfully obtained and carried to Phase III many grants and contracts under the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program of the NIH. These have included developing:
  • An ethnographic data analysis software tool (AFTER™) that codes multimedia data: transcripts, audiotapes, videotapes, and photographs.
  • A sophisticated Questionnaire Development System software suite (QDS™) that facilitates rapid implementation of survey instruments.
  • A handbook and interactive curriculum-building Web site for substance abuse prevention among adolescents.
  • A comprehensive book on conducting community-based behavioral research in Hispanic communities that teaches researchers how to approach and interact with community leaders and gatekeepers and emphasizes how researchers must leave benefits behind—i.e., sustainable programs—if they wish to conduct studies in these communities.
  • A videotape and teacher's guide for school-aged children on the science and ethics surrounding gene therapy and genetic testing.

II.  Program Planning and Evaluation Services—NOVA's program planning and evaluation services have encompassed many disease areas, including HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and health disparities in minority and rural populations:

  • For the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NOVA staff provide program planning, program implementation technical assistance, evaluation planning and development of process and outcome metrics, program evaluation for clinical trials patient recruitment, and patient navigator programs to assist persons in need in overcoming access barriers to high-quality, timely cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Also for NCI, NOVA staff conducted multiple evaluation planning and performance studies—formative process and outcome evaluations—for educational and training materials targeted to health professionals, patients and their families, and the general public.
  • For the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NOVA staff conducted multiple program planning and evaluation studies in the areas of HIV/AIDS and STD prevention.
  • For the DHHS Office of Minority Health, NOVA staff conducted grant research progress and outcome evaluations across a broad range of diseases with high incidence and prevalence among minority populations.
  • For the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, NOVA staff developed a strategic program plan and evaluation metrics for the Year 2000 Health Objectives for the Nation targeted to improving the health and quality of life of individuals with disabilities.
  • For the National Institute on Aging (NIA), NOVA staff conducted nationwide focus groups in order to develop a needs assessment, strategy and implementation plans, and an operating budget for NIA's Alzheimer's Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center.

III. Health Information Technology—NOVA provides data management and analysis, research software development, and Web application development. Projects include:

  • Data Management and Analysis—NOVA has acted as the national data coordinating and evaluation center for multiple NIH and CDC studies. These include some of the largest community-based HIV/AIDS prevention and intervention programs conducted with substance abusers, injecting drug users, and women at high risk:
  • For the CDC, NOVA was the data coordinating and analysis center for two of the most important studies to set national guidelines for HIV testing and counseling as HIV/AIDS prevention interventions.
  • NOVA applies its expertise and experience in health information technology to support a wide range of IT services to CDC as a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman under a major CDC Information Technology Support (CITS) contract that encompasses all of CDC. NOVA's major role is providing IT and data analysis services to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Research Software Development—Using its in-house-developed Questionnaire Development System (QDS™), NOVA supports many universities and research foundations in their development of complex research questionnaires for major local, regional, and national health studies. QDS™ software facilitates rapid implementation of survey instruments by supporting administration in various modes—paper-and-pencil with batched data entry and verification, computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI), computer-administered self-interview with audio (Audio CASI/ACASI), and handheld PDA (Pocket PC) computer-assisted personal interview (HAPI™)—all built from a single pull-down menu in the Design Studio specification module. The product's data storage and management capabilities incorporate reconciliation among multiple versions and facilitate transfer to statistical analysis software such as SAS and SPSS, with variable names and value labels.

  • Web Application Development—NOVA's Web development team is skilled in developing well-organized and innovative Web applications, including online surveys, interactive interfaces to back-end databases, online conference registration sites, information-sharing and dissemination sites, and useful Web-based tools for a variety of applications:
  • Substance Abuse Prevention Curriculum Guide, at, provides health educators tools to implement research-based strategies proven effective for substance abuse prevention for young people in kindergarten through the 12th grade.
  • A Web-based tool for promotion and dissemination of materials was created for the Office of Education and Special Initiatives (OESI) at the NCI: Process and Outcome Evaluation Tracking (POET), at
  • The Career Development Services System (CDSS) Web site ( was developed for the U.S. Department of Labor's Job Corps.

IV. Health and Scientific Communications—NOVA provides a variety of services, including: speech writing; survey development and implementation; press releases; Web writing; policy writing; editing; developing meeting minutes/reports; focus group and usability testing; graphic design, layout, and production; distribution of materials; and promotion and campaign management. NOVA's Science Writers have written and/or edited manuscripts for the following peer-reviewed journals, among others:

  • Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
  • Cell Research
  • Endocrinology
  • Journal of Biological Chemistry
  • Journal of Immunology
  • Neuroendocrinology
  • Pediatric Research
  • Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Science
  • The FASEB Journal

V.  Meetings, Conferences, and Exhibits—NOVA has supported more than 1,000 meetings since 1986. These have ranged in size from 10 to 1,500 participants and have encompassed a broad variety of meeting formats—planning retreats, science symposia, international conferences, lectures, government agency meetings, workshops, seminars, annual meetings, advisory council meetings, summits, think tanks, steering and subcommittee meetings, and meetings of the President's Cancer Panel, as well as public hearings. NOVA has hosted and supported GSA's biennial Federal Fleet Managers' FedFleet conference; the New Jersey Governor's Conference on Effective Partnering in Cancer Research; and the Cancer Health Disparities Summit for the NCI.
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What types of products does NOVA provide?

NOVA's products include QDS™ (Questionnaire Development System) software and the Substance Abuse Prevention Curriculum Guide Web site: (a Web-based subscription service for health educators). NOVA also offers the following books, videos, and CDs designed and developed by NOVA staff:

  • Researcher's Handbook for Conducting Drug Abuse Research With Hispanic Populations (book and CD-ROM), published by Greenwood Publishing, Inc.
  • Handbook for Drug Use Prevention Activities for Children and Adolescents (book)
  • The Cutting Edge (educational video on gene technology for secondary schools)
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How do customers benefit from using NOVA's products and services?

NOVA has a 19-year track record in facilitating the cost-effective and timely transfer of technology and information from research into practice. Over the years, NOVA's research and development efforts have relied on close collaboration with clients to provide products and services that meet the specific needs of NOVA's client base (government agencies, research institutions, and academia). As a result, NOVA has an extensive client list of leading research organizations that have benefited from improved productivity and effectiveness in conducting their research.
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Is NOVA involved in any major partnerships and initiatives?

Yes. NOVA is a subcontractor to Northrop Grumman at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, and Hyattsville, Maryland. NOVA also collaborates with The Cancer Institute of New Jersey in producing an invitation-only meeting to bring world leaders in academia and industry together with government officials and legislators in an effort to develop a plan for facilitating the movement of laboratory discoveries in cancer prevention and control to clinical implementation. NOVA also works closely with several branches of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD), President's Cancer Panel (PCP), Office of Education and Special Initiatives (OESI), Applied Research Program (ARP), Center for Cancer Research (CCR, NCI's intramural research program), Office of Science Planning and Assessment (OSPA), and Epidemiology and Genetics Research Program (EGRP).

In addition, in 2003, the PCP, together with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, asked NOVA to coordinate meetings in Lisbon, Portugal, and Paris, France, to study cancer survivorship issues among Europeans. NOVA recruited a cross-section of cancer and health care experts and cancer survivors from Portugal, France, Denmark, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, and other countries for this effort.
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Does NOVA's expertise extend to research studies in ethnic minority communities?

Yes. Historically, NOVA's research has centered on special populations, including women and children at risk for HIV/AIDS, cancer survivors, substance abusers, and those affected by cancer health disparities. NOVA has worked as well on research projects that focus on ethnic minority communities. Current work includes the following:

  • For its R01 HIV/STD screening instrument development grant, NOVA is working with minority community researchers and clinics to develop and validate a risk-of-exposure screening instrument for Spanish-speaking adolescents to determine their risk of exposure for HIV disease and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • For the Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities (CRCHD), NOVA is engaged in a broad range of research support—from providing support to scientific meetings investigating causes, costs, and effective interventions to reduce and eliminate cancer health disparities to assisting in writing scientific and programmatic documents and publications, preparing presentations on cancer health disparities issues, writing a major paper on the history of and progress in making eliminating cancer health disparities a major national priority, and conducting evaluations of pilot intervention research projects in minority communities to reduce health disparities by improving access to timely, quality cancer care.
  • For the Cancer Disparities Research Partnerships (CDRP) program, NOVA is developing an evaluation and cost-effectiveness plan to measure the success of this unique partnership and community intervention program to make radiation oncology services and clinical trials more available in minority communities and to increase awareness of and knowledge about the benefits of radiation clinical trials as an alternative to standard cancer radiation therapy.
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What is QDS™?

Funded through a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant, NOVA's QDS™ is questionnaire development system software that simplifies and automates survey creation and administration, increases efficiency, and cuts survey development time by up to 50 percent. QDS™ has been used extensively in biomedical, behavioral, and other public health studies in at least 16 countries. QDS™ users represent a variety of research organizations in academia, government, and industry, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); National Development Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI); The University of Texas; New York City Department of Health; University of California, San Francisco; The Johns Hopkins University; Medical College of Wisconsin; University of Kentucky; University of Miami (FL) School of Medicine; University of Oklahoma; and others.

QDS™ users produce all materials needed to administer a survey questionnaire simultaneously in a variety of modes—paper; desktop, laptop, and tablet PC; and now, PDA Pocket PC—all from a single set of easily maintained specifications and without having to hire a computer programmer. QDS™ allows data to be exported directly into other software programs, such as SAS, SPSS, and MS Access, for data analysis.

QDS™ is a modular system consisting of three major components: Design Studio, Data Collection Modules, and Warehouse Manager. The four data collection modules: Data Entry for paper questionnaires; CAPI (Computer-Assisted Personal Interview) for face-to-face interviewing; ACASI (Audio Computer-Administered Self-Interview) for more sensitive data collection and for interviewing respondents with lower literacy rates; and QDS-HAPI™ (Handheld-Assisted Personal Interview) for the Pocket PC.

The Design Studio component is used to define such specifications for a questionnaire as the text of each question; desired response type (e.g., Yes/No, check all that apply); coding and formatting defaults; branching instructions; and consistency checks. QDS™ defaults can automatically provide question numbers, variable names, and special coding rules.

The Warehouse Manager component tracks the status of each collected interview and, for multisite studies, whether each completed questionnaire has been shipped to and received by the data coordinating center. It also has the capability to output questionnaire files to SPSS, SAS, or MS Access for data analysis, with variable names and labels. The Warehouse Manager converts and merges data from different data collection modes and reconciles different questionnaire versions.

In addition, NOVA's QDS™ software program has been used to conduct studies in Spanish, French, Haitian Creole, German, Afrikaans, Xhosa, and other languages.
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Can potential users demo QDS™?

Yes. A free software download is available online at
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