Blogs

Note from the Editor | New Ways of Thinking When thinking about what to write for this month’s Note from the Editor, I couldn’t help thinking about the saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” but I felt like I had already said this before. Sure enough, in April 2021, I started my Note from the Editor with this exact same phrase. I suppose it’s natural to return to such a common thought this time of year and more challenging to think outside of the box. However, I’m happy to say that our articles, unlike my column, are full of thinking about things in new ways; from Yolande Hall and Kimberly Pratt finishing up their series on wicked problems to Kimberly ...
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View from the Top | The Learning Never Stops Spring is in full force, and so are the numerous educational and membership offerings. There truly is something for everyone to meet professional development and budgetary needs.  For me, however, nothing beats a live in-person event. The energy and enthusiasm encountered at the Section meetings and the Research Leadership Intensive in Philadelphia and Phoenix was invigorating.  Kudos to Section presidents Marchon Jackson (Northeast), Karen Bone (Southern), Jason Claes (Midwest), and Stuart Tenney (Western), and all who helped plan and execute the 2022 Section meetings. As I have said many times, it takes a village ...
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Research Administration Careers | Onboarding: Innovative Staffing Program Achieves Infinite Game Success In this month’s Spotlight, the University of Michigan presents a unique solution to combat staffing gaps and turnovers .  Research Administration is, as inspirational speaker Simon Sinek describes, an “infinite game.” The goal is to keep moving forward, with no end in mind, no clear winner, and players who come and go. Infinite-minded people play the game because they understand they are advancing something bigger than themselves. They expect the unexpected, realize there are always ebbs and flows, and prepare for radical flexibility. Success in Research ...
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Research Administration Careers | Hiring: The Employer Has No Clothes While anyone can say “yes” to a question, a near miss with an experienced-level hire made it clear that more specific questions about the mechanics of research administration are necessary during the interview process. With this pivot, one institution’s screening procedure became more effective. Some sample interview questions are shared in this article.   Several years ago, I interviewed a candidate for a senior research administrator position.  The individual’s resume and application looked strong, with great background and experience.  This gentleman came in for the interview in a ...
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Cultural Norms in the Workplace and Leadership Workplaces can blossom with professionalism while incorporating modernized norms that offer diversity, equity, and inclusiveness.  Cultural norms in the workplace can be the determining factor in the success or failure of your organization. They are the shared expectations and rules that guide people's behavior within social groups. Cultural norms are learned and reinforced from parents, friends, teachers, the society we grow up in, and the environment we must engage with others. As such, there could be both toxic and healthy cultures that will either erode or encourage the environment that's optimal for success. ...
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Wicked Problems: A Case for Design Thinking in Research Administration Change Management, Part 3: SPO Training Case-Study This is the final in a three-part series about how research administrators can apply design thinking principles to solve their “wicked problems.” So far, Part 1 introduced design thinking and Part 2 described the design thinking process in more detail . In this third piece, we present a case-study of the design thinking process in action.   To set the scene, in early 2019, the authors were tasked to improve the training and onboarding program for new sponsored projects officers (SPOs) in our quickly growing central office at ...
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Making Compliance Work for You One RA’s take from a recent iSession describes how compliance needs to be second nature in the research administration field. Know what it is, what is required and how to show evidence of it! Employ best practices, avoid pitfalls, and pass the annual audits! I recently attended the January 11, 2022 Encore 2021 SRAI iSession, Maintaining a Compliance Mindset in 2022 – Where Do I Start? presented by Marchon Jackson and Debra Murray. This session equipped the participants with tools to identify, manage, and prevent compliance issues at our prospective organizations.  They explained what compliance is and why it is so important. ...
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What I Wish I Knew When I Started in Research Administration | Stacy Pritt Members of SRAI’s Distinguished Faculty were recently asked, “What do you wish you knew when you started in Research Administration?” Over the next few months we will share their insights and observations.   I wish I had understood just how important networking was and which meetings provide the most current information on regulatory trends.  While I have been involved in Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) administration for years, I was barely two years into my involvement with broader research administration topics, such as conflict of interest (COI) and ...
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Monthly Poll | Work-Life Balance On June 10, our esteemed colleague, Gloria Greene is going to be presenting at the Alabama-Mississippi SRAI Chapter Meeting about Work-Life Balance.  She would appreciate bringing some data into that presentation from you, the membership.  Gloria read this article from the FairyGodBoss and asked Zoe Kaplan’s permission to share it with you.  This month’s poll is a bit different.  We’d like to ask you to follow the link to read the FairyGodBoss article: Answer These 9 Q’s, And We’ll Tell You If Your Work-Life Balance Is Your Problem Or Your Company’s , which includes an assessment.  Once you’ve tallied your responses to the ...
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Welcome our new 2022 Section Officers SRAI would like to congratulate our newly elected Section Officers as they start their new terms. Join us as we recognize our volunteers. Canadian Section   Ann Fong TRIUMF  Congratulations to Ann Fong who has recently been elected as Secretary/Treasurer for a two-year term in the Canadian Section 2022 elections. Ann is the Director, Research Services Office, TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre which is located in Vancouver, British Columbia. As a member of the Section Executive Team, Ann is making a valued contribution to developing the Section 2022/2023 slate of activities which will be announced ...
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2022 Northeast/Southern Section Meeting Thanks to everyone who volunteered and attended the 2022 SRAI Northeast Southern Section Meeting in Philadelphia in early April. So very many people - our members, presenters, SRAI Board, and SRAI Headquarters - were instrumental in making it such a great experience, and we can't say thank you enough. This Section Meeting was our first Section meeting in-person since the pandemic began, and all participants gave positive feedback on the experience. Attendees had the opportunity to earn certificates in Financial Management and Research Integrity, catch up with their colleagues, and meet others within the field. For those ...
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2022 Western/Midwest Section Meeting We want to thank the Planning Committee, SRAI Headquarters, volunteers, and speakers, for making the Western/Midwest Section Meeting on April 24 – 27, 2022, a success! With over 165 registered participants, including more than 35 speakers, we were all able to experience professional development through sharing knowledge and expertise from Financial Compliance to Leadership Lessons Learned. This was our first in-person Section Meeting since pre-pandemic and it was fantastic to meet so many new professionals and catch up with peers. We hope everyone had a chance to take in some of the sites within walking distance or were ...
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Volume LIII, Number 1 From the Editor's Desk Author Jennifer E. Taylor, MBA, PhD Tennesee Tech University The  Journal of Research Administration  (JRA) is the premier scholarly publication for the field of research administration and management. We publish timely work that covers all facets of our discipline. The Journal is an important education and career development platform. Our authors share best practices and innovative means of performing research administration and management work in our fast-paced, ever-changing environments while also enhancing their own careers through the process of publishing peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles. ...
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Note from the Editor | Spring Whirlwind April is generally a crazy, busy month for research administrators, whether because of processing research grants, attending professional development activities, or onboarding new employees. It is, therefore, quite fitting that this month’s Catalyst reflects these same themes.  In light of the Great Resignation, our spotlight feature from the “Research Administration Careers” series clearly hits the mark. In this Part 2 article Heather Brown and Mark Lucas discuss the ins and out of Onboarding. In terms of professional development, the myriad of SRAI educational activities underway, such as Spring Section Meetings ...
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View from the Top | It’s Good to See You Again As I write this April column, my thoughts are on my upcoming trips to Philadelphia and Phoenix for the Spring Section meetings and the first in-person Research Leadership Intensive in over two years! By the time you read this, these meetings will be a pleasant memory, but my excitement is building as I truly miss connecting with and learning from colleagues in person.  SRAI has been able to stay focused through the chaos and deliver top quality education and professional development through various virtual platforms, while slowly returning to our in-person events. We learned that regardless of the mode of delivery, ...
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Research Administration Careers | Part II: Onboarding This month, the SRAI Catalyst continues its Spotlight Series on Research Administration (RA) Careers with a look at Onboarding, exploring the different challenges and opportunities facing RA newcomers, experienced professionals, and senior leaders. Future series topics include Training, Education/Certification, Office Structures, and Career Ladders/Tracks. Onboarding.  The term offers promise and hope, the start of a new experience. All jobs have an onboarding process, be it completing new hire paperwork, culture exposure, systems training, or the get-to-know-you lunch.  The aspirational feeling of the ...
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Investigating Common Pitfalls in Clinical Research Did that research administrator just say he was cut from the study due to funding issues? And, why was training IDC applied to Dr. Jane Doe’s clinical research study? Clinical research pitfalls, such as these, may be experienced by institutions at the planning stage of a study, during a study’s execution, and sometimes through to its completion. Through research on the subject, an investigator can become familiar with common issues relevant to clinical research studies and proactively minimize or avoid potential risks. Roles within an institution beyond the investigator may be affected by pitfalls, such as ...
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Wicked Problems: A Case for Design Thinking in Research Administration Change Management, Part 2: The Design Thinking Process This is the second in a three-part series about how research administrators can apply design thinking principles to solve their “wicked problems” and will delve further into the design thinking process. Part 1 introduced design thinking , and next month Part 3 will provide a case-study example of design thinking in action.   As we discussed in Part 1 last month , Design Thinking is a human-centered multi-disciplinary process that allows us to better understand the unmet needs of the people we’re creating for to create the best user ...
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Finding Meaning in the F31 In my current role as Grants and Contracts Specialist, I support the Psychology Department at Ohio State University. Over my first two years in this role, a few grad students approached me to apply for the F31 fellowships. I was new to that mechanism and so I dove into learning about its unique requirements and helped the students navigate it and submit. And then promptly forgot about it. When another student approached me, I had to relearn. After several cycles of relearning, I resolved to improve my approach.  The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31) is awarded to enable promising ...
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Are Research Administrators Nonessentials? Two Great Reads for 2022 Nonessentialist? That sounds horrid! But think of yourself (and others) as research administrators. Is it your mindset to be all things to all people? I have to. It's all important. How do I fit it all in? Do you react to what's most pressing, say "yes" to people without really thinking, gravitate to doing things at the last minute? Do you find that you often feel out of control, overwhelmed, and exhausted? These qualities are what define a nonessentialist.  You might say that with the requisite interactions with researchers and bureaucracies, these qualities are just part and parcel of being ...
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