More than a decade ago, I moved to Canada from the US, like many CARA members, I accidently fell into research administration. When starting up a research services office at one academic institution in western Canada, I soon recognized that in-house resources and expertise was scant. As a newcomer, I was also learning a fair bit about the funding envelopes, regulatory frameworks, and organizational cultures here. I heard about CARA (CAURA at that time) from a friend and got attracted to it. I found a network of helpful members from whom I could learn. Having lead research administration over the last decade, I know I’ve had to improvise a lot along the way. Several CARA members can relate this to this experience, even those at large research intensive institutions.
Since joining CARA, I have volunteered for several activities and roles, including mentoring, delivering webinars, and founding a Special Interest Group. I also joined the Board and served until my term ended this May. I watched with happiness as CARA has expanded its professional and career development offerings, including webinars, annual and regional conferences, and lately, certificate programs. Hundreds of CARA members have graciously volunteered their time and shared their expertise willingly.
While the depth and breadth of learning resources have grown, some gaps remain. One long standing need is a comprehensive published resource (print or online) for research administrators and managers. Dean Smith’s book titled ‘Managing the Research University’ has been a very helpful learning resource. It is a book rooted in his experience at American universities. However, the need for a Canadian resource that is both inclusive and comprehensive has been felt, and Dean Smith’s work serves as an inspiration for a home-grown undertaking.
At our national conference in Ottawa this May, a casual conversation at the CARA booth with Executive Director Sarah Lampson uncovered this opportunity. I also chatted with Evan DiValentino who manages our collaborative certificate program at Mohawk College. We collectively felt that it was timely to create a book that could serve as a resource for research administrators and manager across Canada. After conversing other respected CARA members, it turns out that the need for such a pan-Canadian resource is universal.
I’ve suffered chronically from the writer’s itch, and though I am far from retirement, I have eagerly volunteered for this project. I think it happened after a few drinks at one of the receptions at the national conference. Hopefully, I know what I am getting into. In any case, a working title for this proposed book is Leading the Research Institution: A Guide to Research Administration at Canadian Universities, Colleges, Hospitals, and Non-profits. Developing a book is a major undertaking. However, the CARA community is rich with volunteers who have shared their expertise time and again. A collaborative effort seems the Canadian way of creating this book.
So, we would like to hear from members of the CARA community who are interested in contributing their expertise through this proposed book. Are you a current or past research administrator willing to share your insights by authoring a chapter? Do you have an area of expertise related to research administrator or management, and would like to be (ahem!) rich and famous through authorship credits? Joint authorship is welcome. So are referrals.
If this sounds exciting, please send me a working title for your proposed chapter along with a bio or CV. You don’t need to be represented by a literary agent, but it wouldn’t hurt either. An abstract (500 words or less) is also desirable, but not a must at this stage. Please get back to me by the end of this month (Aug 31, 2018) with the above. I am happy to answer any questions you might have (DGupta@centennialcollege.ca). To be truly receptive to your ideas, we are not prescribing an outline for the book yet, but we do have a sense of the topics it must cover.
I anticipate the potential for this book to serve as a resource for the research administration and management certificate programs offered through Mohawk College. And if this book really takes off (e.g. the O endorses this in her book club), I am happy to get you on the speaking circuit.
Thank you in advance for your contributions to an important endeavour.