|Report-back from INORMS 2012|
|Wednesday, 06 June 2012 10:37|
by Diana Coates
INORMS is an umbrella body for research management associations. Mooted in the early 2000s, four conferences have now been held. More than 400 research managers attended the latest, in Copenhagen, in May, more than 40 of whom were from Africa. The next will be held in Washington DC in April 2014.
INORMS's goal is to have research management recognised as a professional career path. Its core membership is located in universities around the world, and the increasingly complex collaborative arrangements between these universities have to be managed. Globalisation of research is an important issue; in the African context, where research provides evidence for solutions to severe and endemic problems linked to poverty, it is especially important that universities are able to manage the ways in which research evidence is made available to the public and to policymakers.
Managing the publication of research for readerships other than academics has been an activity that has been peripheral to research management. However, given the major investments in development research for public good, it is timely to bring Research Uptake Management into the mainstream.
DRUSSA`s presentation at INORMS 2012 outlined the importance of managing the translation and dissemination of research for uptake by universities` stakeholders, and also to fulfil their own mission to contribute to social and economic development. Research Uptake Management must serve the needs of both the researchers and the externally facing top management university offices that interact with governments, NGOs and funders.
In Africa, development research is currently driven programmatically by investment in research to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Many African universities undertake development research, often in collaboration with other African universities, and also with universities in the North. Isolated nodes of expertise in communicating research do exist -- often at research group level -- but it is not yet an area that has been mainstreamed into the range of research management skill sets.
Managing for Research Uptake and use requires cross-functional alignment of research, public affairs, community engagement and university extension communication capacity -- and it must serve the needs of both the researchers and the externally facing top management university offices that interact with governments, NGOs and funders.
Two presentations at INORMS were especially relevant to DRUSSA`s aims:
The UK research management association ARMA`s paper presented the results of its study and recommendations for a Professional Development Framework that allows general recognition of the areas of work that research managers are involved in, and for accreditation of CPD courses in those areas.
The purpose of the ARMA Framework is to “underpin initial and continuing professional development for research managers and administrators across the full range of roles in Higher Education now and for the foreseeable future.” Acquiring knowledge translation (another term commonly used to describe Research Uptake) expertise features as an important professional development area, for research management at operational, management and strategic leadership levels, and intersects with research policy and governance.
The second presentation that resonated with DRUSSA`s aims was the “The use of social media as a tool for research management”. DRUSSA is enthusiastic about using these tools in the geographically dispersed conditions in which African research managers operate -- not only to draw them into collegial professional relationships -- but also to link them with their colleagues internationally. We reiterate Nordquist`s recommendation that LinkedIn is a suitable platform for professional development – we`ve had the DRUSSA LinkedIn site up for some months and urge you to register on LinkedIn, and to join DRUSSA LinkedIn.
Diana Coates is the Executive Director at Organisation Systems Design