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‘Smash the silos,’ say research managers


Arma 2022: Dialogue between managers and funders “would help smooth out bumpy research system”

It is a “shame” that funders do not attend the national conference for those who manage research grants, one of the speakers at the event has said.

Liz Ogilvie, who chaired a discussion at the Association of Research Managers and Administrators conference in Newcastle on 22 November, said researchers often complain about a “bumpy” funding system, while multiple Arma members said more needed to be done to break down silos across the sector.

“We sometimes hear from academics that it is a bumpy system,” she said.

“The shame is that the funders are not here. How can we get the funders in the room to have that dialogue? They should be here, because they would learn a lot about another world.”  

During the session—on how to create research systems that are fit for the future without increasing bureaucracy—some research managers complained of the silos that isolate those working in research.

Ogilvie, a director of academic events company the Collective, said that pre- and post-award teams often do not talk to each other. Ways of bringing those people together need to be found, she added.

Come together

Conference delegates ranked the suggestions for improving the research system. Sharing best practices came out top, as the best measure to take forward. Other suggestions included: closer working between pre- and post-award teams, and building trust across the sector.

Research administrators at the conference also suggested that the introduction of project managers and research facilitators could help bridge gaps within research departments.

Ogilvie said that the key message to come out of the discussions was the importance of understanding “the various processes that exist and the various players within the research ecosystem”, as well as the importance of these players coming together.