Blogs

Note from the Editor | Setting the Tone for the New Year Happy 2023! We hope you had a refreshing and relaxing holiday season filled with family, friends, and fun. As we set the tone for a new year filled with promise and optimism, this month’s Catalyst highlights topics of relevance to research administrators, provides professional development perspectives, and underscores the creativity of our SRAI readers.  Hot topics this month include the development of the newly funded SRAI Research Security Training Program described by Gloria Greene in the View from the Top and a featured spotlight on Research Data and Responsible Publication , part one of a series ...
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Research Data and Responsible Publishing | Introduction to Research Data: What is Research Data and How is Ownership Defined? The Catalyst begins 2023 with a three-month look at various aspects of research data and responsible publishing in view of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) upcoming release of its Data Management and Sharing Policy. This month’s Spotlight focuses on defining research data – what it is and is not, as well as who owns it. Additional research data topics will be explored in the February and March issues.   Much discussion has been circulating about research data and its associated responsibilities. With the implementation of ...
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It Was the Best of Times; It Was the Worst of Times | Part 1 This iconic literary opening is the first thing I thought of when pondering the current state of our profession. In a lot of ways, it truly is the heyday of research administration. The amount of US R&D has gone from $156B in 2002, to a 2023 request of $193B. Regulations such as the Federal Financial Accountability and Transparency Act have significantly increased the amount of administration and reporting required for sponsored projects. Due to the increasing complexity of sponsored projects administration, there are far more specialized offices and positions at institutions. Research administrators ...
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Navigating the Career Maze Research Management and Administration (RMA) is a profession with diverse job roles and opportunities, making it professionally challenging to identify suitable career pathways/possibilities.   Background Over three years ago, I joined the research management and advancement profession as Research Outputs Officer, providing research outputs support services towards researcher’s performance and excellence. This role was in the research communication end of the research lifecycle. I later transitioned into a research administration role in less than a year, providing research support services towards identifying research funding ...
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Examining Traditional and Non-Traditional Mentor/Mentee Relationships Research administration is continuously changing, developing, and transforming as a result of demands from research, sponsors, and stakeholders. How can we, as research administrators, better ourselves to evolve with the profession? One way is to lean on each other through a mentoring process where mentors and mentees participate in an at-will relationship to help each other grow, learn, connect, and share experiences. Mentoring relationships follow a lifecycle involving three stages: initiate , cultivate , and evaluate .  It is critical for both mentors and mentees to determine why they ...
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Putting Research Administration Skills to the Test: Purchasing Taylor Swift Tickets How to use everyday skills of research administration and apply them creatively to real life scenarios.   Research administration requires strategic planning, collaboration, flexibility, problem-solving, teamwork, and resilience. No two days are the same. A thoughtfully planned day can go sideways quickly when something urgent comes to the table. Who knew these skills could also aid in buying concert tickets to see Taylor Swift? I have been to numerous Taylor concerts since 2006 and have been fortunate to meet her. Back in 2019, I purchased tickets to her Lover tour for ...
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What is Your Best Tip for Time Management? | Fran Stephens Members of SRAI’s Distinguished Faculty were recently asked what their best tip/aid for time management is. Over the next few months, we will share their insights and observations.   Sunday evening or early Monday I make sure my calendar is up to date (work and personal). I insert notes to prep for events (day before reception: pick up gifts, etc.) I print a copy to put in my clipboard so it is easy to make changes if my phone or laptop are not handy.  Authored by Fran Stephens , Director, Pre-Award Services The University of Oklahoma SRAI Distinguished Faculty #insights ...
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The Secret Life of a Research Administrator | Vanessa Greer Ettema “The Secret Life of a Research Administrator” column is meant to facilitate more personal connections between SRAI members through the Catalyst newsletter. If you would like to share with the community or know of someone who will, please submit your article here .   My secret life was birthed by COVID which altered so many aspects of our lives. It all started with "Vincenzo." You may be wondering what "Vincenzo" is. You'd be wrong if you guessed something Italian. It's a Korean drama (or, as I like to call them, "Korean Soap Operas" or KSO). My husband and I would curl up on the couch, ...
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My Mommy is a Research Administrator! Being an administrator can often feel very much like being a parent; nurturing and caring for faculty as they manage their proposals. The Catalyst spoke with our newest “committee member,” baby Zara, who shared her views on the similarities of motherhood and research administration.   Dear Mommy,  It really is great to be here and in this big and mysterious, but exciting world. There’s so much to see and do! So far, you’ve been a great mommy – you feed me, clean me, entertain me, and teach me. And there’s so much to learn!  One thing I don’t understand is that everyone seems to call you a “research administrator.” ...
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View from the Top | The Road Ahead 2022 was an excellent period for SRAI, and 2023 is off to a great start. The foundation we built over the previous year, culminating in updating our strategic plan in November, is already yielding results. Last May, I brought together SRAI’s leadership with the University of Alabama in Huntsville to partner on a NSF funding opportunity to develop a series of training programs on research security, one of the hottest topics in our profession. I am excited to share that our proposal was accepted and SRAI is a subrecipient for NSF 22-576 Research Security Training for the United States (U.S.) Research Community . This is a great ...
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Note from the Editor | Holiday Reflections Happy Holidays from all of us at the Catalyst, as we conclude another calendar year and reflect on 2022. I’d like to thank Heather Brown and Mark Lucas for their hard work on the Research Administration Career Series that closes out this month. I highly recommend checking it out along with the back issue pieces, perhaps while enjoying one of the holiday drinks from the recipes under the Members Corner section.  In other news, SRAI’s podcast, Shop Talk , invites you to submit an audio clip about the joys of your work . If you are having trouble identifying what that might be, our article on Engagement Magic ...
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View from the Top | Your Board and “Fiduciary Duty” Many nonprofits rely heavily on their Boards for institutional support, and SRAI is no different. We, the members of the Board, understand that board service takes time, energy, and resources – all of which each of us is providing on a volunteer basis. It may seem daunting to take on this sort of responsibility, but there are some critical benefits to joining a board that make the burdens worthwhile – YOU , our members.   Each board member has a “fiduciary duty” to the Society and its members. This means our authority and responsibilities as members of the Board exist only as a body and not as an individual ...
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Research Administration Careers| Cradle to Grave Our 2022 series on Research Administration (RA) Careers concludes this month with a reflection on the lifecycle of a research administrator. Much has changed in this field over the past generation. Emerging trends point to RA as a viable and rewarding life-long career choice with varied career possibilities.   It has often been said that no one enters an undergraduate program thinking, “I’ll be a research administrator when I graduate!”  However, research administration is a valid and worthwhile career option.  Many of us fell into the field, either by chance, interest, or default.  As we have discussed in ...
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Engagement Magic Research leaders understand that employee engagement is a key factor in an individual’s performance and in the creation of top-performing teams, but it is not always evident how to foster the type of environment where employees feel comfortable and can make meaningful contributions. How does a leader achieve this “engagement magic,” where the stars of personal fulfillment and team performance align?  Employee engagement impacts on strengthened team performance. There are a host of engagement practices and tools that can be used to improve engagement and promote inclusive work environments.                According to Gallup, in 2022, only ...
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The NIH Boat Song Upon receiving the 2022 Chermside award, Rebecca Claycamp gave a few thoughts on being an effective research administrator. The last point she made was that "People should know that you enjoy what you do. You must have fun," and then she proceeded to belt the chorus of a parody of Harry Belafonte’s “Banana Boat” song that she had written. Here are the full lyrics.   Pay-o, pay-ay-ay-o Payline’s drawn and the grants must go Pay-o, pay-ay-ay-o Payline’s drawn and the grants must go Work all day on the R01 Payline’s drawn and the grants must go But the clinical trial is not yet done Payline’s drawn and the grants must go Come Mr. PO P50 ...
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Q&A on Grants Management with NIH’s Debbie Pettitt and Teri Ann Pailen In October, the Delaware Valley Chapter of SRAI (DVSRAI) hosted a Chapter Chat on the topic “NIH Grants Management Specialists: Why Do Institutes Do Things Differently?” This informal conversation focused on what a GMS does, who to contact for questions regarding a Notice of Award, and why things are handled differently from one NIH institute to another.  Debbie Pettitt, Senior Grants Management Officer at the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) was joined by Teri Ann Pailen, Supervisory Grants Management Specialist at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National ...
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Public Data ‘Tip of Iceberg’ for Misconduct Investigations Journalists from Research Professional News joined us at our 2022 SRAI Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. See what they learned from the session Research Data Forensics: Acquiring and Analyzing Research Data During Research Misconduct Investigations . The article below was first published on www.reserachprofessionalnews.com .   SRAI 2022: Investigators examining conduct concerns may need to sequester non-public research data, consultant says.   Publicly available data is only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of what might need to be examined when an institution is investigating concerns about research ...
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Skills Needed for Research Administration ‘Have Changed’ Journalists from Research Professional News joined us at our 2022 SRAI Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. See what they learned about skills needed in the profession and the changing nature of research. The article below was first published on www.reserachprofessionalnews.com .   SRAI 2022: Research administrators told they must be more flexible and focused on impact.   Research administrators have been told that the skills they need to do their job have changed in recent years, and that they need to be more flexible and responsive to the wider push to connect research with its societal benefits.  ...
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What I Wish I Knew When I Started in Research Administration | Donna Marano and Gloria W. Greene 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.   Donna Marano Don't be afraid to call the sponsor program manager or account administrator.  There are no stupid questions.  They have heard it all. More importantly, they want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed.  Gloria W. Greene I wish I knew that there is this wonderful group of people in SRAI willing to support, mentor, and ...
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SRAI’s Senior Executive Institute The Senior Executive Institute (SEI) held its first in-person event since 2019 at the 2022 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas. It took the form of a master’s retreat on the topic of Intellectual Advancement for Senior Executives in Research Administration.  Our two keynote speakers discussed their career journeys and some key learnings, successes and challenges.  Picking just three highlights, and one memorable quote, from each:  Professor Ed Synakowski, incoming Vice-Provost for Research and Innovation, Stevens Institute for Technology and former VP Research at UNLV  The importance of agency, and the relationships and balance ...
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