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A Career Planning Tool for Research Management and Administration Professionals?

By SRAI News posted 07-13-2023 11:22 AM


A Career Planning Tool for Research Management and Administration Professionals?

With the field of Research Administration continuing to grow, how are those both new to the field and seasoned professionals planning how to move forward in their careers? Is there a need for a Research Administration Career Planning Tool? This is an introductory look into the need for a Career Planning Tool and how we begin to move towards the creation of such a tool. 

Researchers, as frontiers of knowledge, are expected to help understand the causes and solutions to the myriad of problems caused by humans and/or nature by undertaking basic, applied, and fundamental research activities. The need for researchers to solve societal, environmental, and cultural problems through innovative research has increased over the years. As a result, the need for researchers to meet different institutional and stakeholders' (including funders’) requirements and national and international regulations has also increased. This has invariably led to the need for administrative professionals to help researchers overcome the “research administration burden,” thereby enabling researchers to focus on solving societal, environmental, and cultural problems. Research management and administration (with the professionals hereafter referred to as research managers and administrators - RMAs) started over five decades ago to help researchers overcome these burdens and have, over the years, grown rapidly to become a global profession. The profession is saddled with diverse job roles and job opportunities for RMAs but with challenges. The challenges include how to identify suitable career pathways/possibilities and how to navigate the career maze. A recent study showed that almost 60% of USA RMAs changed roles at least three times, though the reasons for the change in roles was not known (Kerridge and Scott, 2018). Likewise, it was not known if the change in roles was internal or external. 

Career progression requires adequate preparation. Career preparation, including exploration of available opportunities, shapes career-related attitudes, thoughts, and perceptions of employability. An adequately planned career helps professionals to stay motivated and maintains an effective workforce. Studies have shown:

  1. How individuals get into the research management and administration profession.
  2. How RMAs change roles.
  3. That RMAs are well educated and mostly female.
  4. The reason why RMAs stayed in the job.
  5. The region with the most RMAs.

While professional societies are providing various resources to keep RMAs informed and communicate with each other, there is currently no career planning tool to help RMAs effectively plan their career progression, no study on the reasons for role change, and no study to determine if role changes are internal or external. 

There is a need to develop a career planning tool to help RMA professionals to plan and progress in their careers, however, is it possible? Recently, there has been an increase in the development of career tools for career progression for graduate students in STEM fields, humanities, arts, and social sciences and chemical sciences for career assessment, goal setting and career development.

Do you think research management and administration with over 20,000 professionals (Kerridge and Scott, 2018) needs such a career tool? If so, what features would you like to see in the tool? Will you be willing to use the tool to plan your career? We would like to hear from you on your experience in this area or if you feel this is something that is even needed.

Reference: Kerridge, S. and S.F. Scott, 2018.  Research Administration around the world. Research Management Review, 23(1) 1-34.

Authored by Dr. Olumide A. Odeyemi (ARMSF), Research Integrity Coordinator
University of Tasmania