Teaching a Research Administrator to Fish…
We have all heard the adage about teaching someone to fish as opposed to handing someone a fish. As a research administrator are you handing out fish or teaching someone to fish?
Teaching someone to be a research administrator is an important opportunity, not just for the teacher, but for the student. Like fishing, teaching for research administration success takes patience and the right equipment in your tacklebox. As a teacher it is your job to be sure your research-administrator-to-be has a fully stocked tacklebox.
Location, location, location. Be sure your student knows all the best places to catch the biggest fish, such as 2 CFR 200 (Uniform Guidance) or the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR). The Research Admin Listserv, the Research Terms and Conditions, and sponsor policies are all excellent locations to drop a line.
Which bait to use? It depends! It depends on what type of fish you want to catch and whether the water is clear or murky. In popular fishing spots you may have a seasoned fisherman giving advice on how they landed “the big one.” Like fishing, research administrators need to know with what type of sponsor they are working, what terms and conditions are typical for that sponsor, and whether the terms may or may not be acceptable. There may also be a seasoned research administrator or two willing to share their experiences.
Casting your own line can be tricky. One of the hardest things to learn when fishing is how to cast your line. This is learned by trial and error. Sometimes you get snarls in your line and sometimes you catch the tree behind you. But with practice and patience that line will land in the sweet spot. At some point, new research administrators must cast their own line. They may hit a few snags and snarls, but with a little space to practice that line will be in the right spot. Letting a new research administrator cast about and find their own way can be hard for a seasoned research administrator who could easily cast for them. But remember, you are teaching someone to fish, not handing out fish.
Keep your research administration tacklebox fully stocked and you will be ready to teach the next generation of research administrators to fish. Fish on!
Authored by Andrea Deaton, Consulting Specialist
Attain Partners LLC
SRAI Board of Directors At-Large Member