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Volume LI, Number 2, From the Editor's Desk

By SRAI JRA posted 09-29-2020 11:16 PM


Volume LI, Number 2


Jennifer E. Taylor, Ph.D., MBA
Deputy Editor
Tennessee Tech University

The Spring 2020 issue was not only the first issue of a new decade but ushered in the second half century (51st year) of the publication of the Journal of Research Administration as the leading scholarly journal for disseminating education, training, and scholarship related to the field of research administration and management. Since our last issue, research administrators have faced the new challenges associated with an unforeseen pandemic—working together to support our investigators and institutions from home or in other socially-distanced ways while continuing to deal with the ever-growing complexities of our field and the need for ongoing development of skills and more effective processes to address them.

In this issue we are publishing a set of articles that provide important guidance for addressing these challenges and for enhancing the capabilities of those involved in research administration and grant writing. They present a useful and adaptable approach to creating clear and objective pathways for career advancement. Relatedly, they supply a framework and examples for developing better understandings and processes for addressing the complex interpersonal dynamics that may emerge among the various partners involved in developing, submitting, and managing sponsored work.

Our first article is entitled, “Professional Development for Clinical Research Professionals: Implementation of a Competency-Based Assessment Model,” by Christine Deeter and a large team of colleagues from the Duke University School of Medicine and other units there. They offer a detailed discussion of the process of developing, testing, and continuously improving an extensive, tiered and points-based system for career advancement of clinical research professionals. They describe some of the impacts of the process thus far, important refinements, extensions (e.g., review groups), and resulting lessons, and provide important documentation that will enable those in other settings to adapt the materials and processes to their own institutions. Indeed, the group tells us of at least one other major medical setting they are working with to utilize the lessons and materials from this effort.

In “Beyond Boundaries: Developing Grant Writing Skills Across Higher Education Institutions,” Kay Cunningham from the University of Sheffield provides an extensive review of literature to identify key grant writing skills necessary to improve the quality of grant applications and to advance the recognition of grant writers as third space professionals. She goes on to analyze current pathways to gaining grant writing skills and the ways that their acquisition is supported or hindered by institutional and professional bodies. Taking a somewhat different approach to the issue of development of grant writing skills, Nims, Liggett, and their colleagues at Eastern Michigan University provide us with the description and results of an active, eight-year effort to develop and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of grant writing workshops aimed at helping faculty attendees develop the skills to be more effective in seeking internal research grants. Importantly, the authors include details for adapting and/or building on their efforts at other institutions along with copies of measures they used to evaluate their impact and success.

The final two articles in this issue shift the focus to critical processes at the interpersonal and institutional levels, respectively, that impact the efficacy of organizations to develop, submit, and manage efforts to conduct sponsored research. In her article, “Escaping the Drama Triangle: Strategies for Successful Research Administration from the Psychology of Codependence” Deborah Clark of Central Michigan University draws on Karpman’s Drama Triangle (1968) formulation to provide an analysis of the interpersonal, and often problematic, stress-inducing dynamics that may arise between research administrators and those they are attempting to support (e.g., principal investigators). She goes on to offer some potentially useful strategies for engaging with principal investigators in more effective and less stressful ways.

Finally, Marcus Johnson, Jean Bolt, Timothy Veldman and Lynn Sutton from the Duke University School of Medicine and Durham VA Health Care System discuss “Establishing a Project Management Community of Practice in a Large Academic Health System.” This article focuses on enhancing the collective capacity of a large organization to execute initiatives in a timely, organized manner that helps to realize their mission. They describe an effort to create a shared platform and related resources for project managers to collaboratively share ideas, best practices, and opportunities for professional development and coordination of efforts.

As always, this issue has required not only the efforts of our authors but the leadership of the journal including our Editor, Nathan Vanderford, our Associate Editor, Holly Zink, and the entire editorial board. We also thank our publisher, SRAI, and specifically, SRAI staff Dilyana Williams and Jim Mitchell for their support of the Journal and their efforts in facilitating the publishing of this and every issue. Finally, if you are a non-SRAI member and wish to have the Journal delivered to you via email, please sign up through the online system at