Goal Setting Suggestions for New Research Administrators

Sarah Lampson & Katie Porter

With social distancing and self-isolation, now is a great time to set some career goals and here are 5 ideas to consider:

      1. Task-Specific Skills. Learn as much as you can about the type of work you are responsible for: 

  • Take courses relevant to your area of research administration. The fully online Research Administration Certificate has 6 different courses and you can take only those that interest you if you do not wish to commit to the full certificate.
  • Attend research administration online learning such as CARA webinars. If your office cannot afford to send you, think creatively: Volunteer and receive 2 free passes a year, apply for a bursary for the Research Administration Certificate, and take all the free on-demand and upcoming webinars.
  • Connect with counterparts in the field for ongoing discussions about your particular roles and issues that commonly affect you and your type of institution. You can connect with them through your CARA special interest group, other professional associations, cold calls, word of mouth, contract negotiations or via LinkedIn.

      2. Knowledge of the field.  In addition to the activities above, broaden your knowledge of research administration in general. Enhance your experience with other education:

  • Read journals and magazines specific to the field. The CARA Connection /La Connexion ACAAR, The Journal of Research Administration, Research Management Review, and NCURA Magazine are excellent places to start.
  • Read books on research administration, the clinical trials industry, and research ethics. Ask peers for recommendations or glean leads from the bibliographies and endnotes of publications you are already reading. Managing the Research University by Dean O. Smith is an excellent place to start.
  • Join LinkedIn groups. Even if you are not a member of a professional organization, you can usually join their LinkedIn group. This is a great way to hear about professional development opportunities they are offering, connect with others, and participate in discussions on current issues in research management. Please join the CARA LinkedIn group and we invite you to join a group we started, Research Administrators Network.
  • Learn more about specific industries: mergers, competitors, pharmaceutical, medical device, engineering, or biotechnology issues. Ask your colleagues to share information they come across. Share articles or press releases you find. Collaborating in this matter is very efficient - not everyone can read every journal but a team approach benefits everyone.

      3. Knowledge about research at your institution.  An awareness of the research priorities at your institution and researchers’ expertise will serve you well and help you tailor your activities.  You can help your researchers find funding opportunities, forward them relevant articles, and help them find synergies with peers in other academic areas.

  • Read your researchers’ biographies, articles, abstracts, webpages, and CVs.
  • Review the patents your institution holds; even a general knowledge of an investigator’s patents is helpful.
  • Read your researchers’ grant applications. Many include a lay summary you will understand even if the particular area of research is new to you.

   4. Express Gratitude. Appreciation is something everyone craves but it can be easy to forget. Show respect and warmth to your co-workers by acknowledging their efforts, especially as everyone is working from home.

This blog is derived from the fourth edition of Steer Your Career: A Research Administrator's Manual to Mapping Success by Sarah Lampson and Katie Porter.