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Inaugural Virtual International Convention for Research Administrators – Connecting Continents, Consolidating Innovative Practices

By SRAI News posted 10-13-2021 02:23 PM


Inaugural Virtual International Convention for Research Administrators – Connecting Continents, Consolidating Innovative Practices

What sets VICRA apart?

VICRA is designed to be a live online experience, aimed at early to mid-career research administrators. It boasts a truly international character with a reach around half the globe. As all presenters are invited experts, the convention is laden with an educational overtone, while targeting research offices of universities in countries without a research management association.

An online meeting allows us to get in contact with people over half the globe, without them spending money or time for travel and accommodation. As the organizing committee neither has venue expenses, the tickets can be cheaper too.

On the other side of the coin are the facts that the attention span in the virtual world is significantly shorter and any interaction with fellow registrants is more superficial. Moreover, in order to reach half the globe in their waking hours, the event can only be four hours long as a start time of 9:00 AM in London means 8:00 PM in Sydney.

Engaging the audience is not enough for a live streaming event, you need to wow them.  Not stuck in a row of chairs in a room with a creaky door, the viewer can drift away from their screen in a second. Hence, our speakers will use all manner of structure and tools in their presentations, like the range of polling options via Slido (embedded in their PowerPoints), breakout groups, and doodle- and photo-sharing via DropEvent, to interact frequently with the audience, encouraging participation.

Each registrant automatically becomes a member of the VICRA Community. Here, we will discuss ideas, share stories, make announcements, share feedback, and test third-party resources. The portal will also help addressing the ‘human’ problems the registrants may deal with: for example, how to use Pathable or third-party sites, how to meet/get in contact with whom, etc. The Community portal will stay open for a year after the event to enable (international) peer-to-peer support.

An international team of 16 experienced research managers and administrators (RMAs) established VICRA. Each member of the organizing committee works in a different country: Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, India, Pakistan, Singapore, Vietnam, Denmark, Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia. VICRA is for RMAs living and working between the East Atlantic and the West Pacific shores, created by people from that half of the globe.

The 3 Keynotes and 41 presenters are from 23 countries: 16 from Europe & Central Asia, 9 from Sub-Saharan Africa, 9 from East Asia & the Pacific, 5 from North America, 1 from the Middle East & North Africa and 1 from South Asia.

The program features Seven Streams. Each stream will have a host who will narrate the overarching storyline: they will introduce each speaker, after a recap of the previous session, and round up each session with a preview of the next one. The hosts will not only facilitate the flow and in doing so become the face of the stream, but also be its voice framing the audience’s questions in the Q&A. They will write a Today’s Highlights summary for the daily blog in the VICRA Community portal, so the audience gets a reminder for the breadth of the convention. Each day will start with a keynote, followed by three sessions with a choice from four streams.

With the number of sessions between brackets, the Seven Streams are: Personal Development (3), From Networking to Collaboration (3), Understanding Research and Researchers (3), Accessibility and Pitfalls of International Research Funding (6), Innovation to Research Impact Assessment (6), Research Integrity - Responsible Conduct of Research (6), and Research Administration as a Profession (9).

Early to mid-career research administrators form the target audience for the convention and as such VICRA features a stronger notion of education: invited experts will detail both tried & innovative practices, showcase both trusted & new tools and share insights gained. As they work in different parts of the world (hailing from different continents), their viewpoints and accents will differ but – within a stream – the core of their messages and takeaways will consolidate.

Four hours per day starting with a stimulating keynote, followed by three sessions with a choice of four concurrent streams over three days: three plenaries plus 36 presentations and/or workshops. Each registrant will have access to recordings of all sessions for six months, and be part of the VICRA on-line community for a year.

The program will cover the four required and three elective sessions for SRAI’s Introduction to Research Administration and Management (IRAM) certificate. The required workshop will take place in two four-hour sittings in the two days ahead of VICRA.

Taking part in making this inaugural, truly international on-line convention a success will be a great-shared adventure.

The Early Bird registration (until December 15) is set at $224 for the full convention, plus annual membership fee of $220 for SRAI non-members. Institutional Package: When three or more staff from the same institution register, membership fees for all will be waived. This makes the price for three Early Birds at the same institution $672. Standard tickets will be $299.  The two-day IRAM workshop will be an additional $190.

Join and follow #VICRA2022 on LinkedIn.

Authored by Floris van der Leest, Senior System Analyst
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
International Section President