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Arma 2024: Full coverage

 Image: Grace Gay for Research Professional News

All of our news from the Association of Research Managers and Administrators’ conference in Brighton

Research Professional News was media partner for the Association of Research Managers and Administrators’ 2024 annual conference, held in Brighton on 18 and 19 June. Here are all of our news reports from the conference, pulled together in one place.


A plenary session at the Arma event heard from leaders of the metascience team in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.

Jack Leahy, senior metascience adviser in the department, said his team was undertaking a range of experiments to see how metascience—the use of scientific methodologies to analyse and improve the way research operates—might be applied to UK research funding.

One such experiment is looking at whether more randomisation in the allocation of research funding could shake up the kind of projects that get money to boost breakthrough science and shift processes away from overly conservative peer review, he told the conference.

Political interest

More political and public interest in research brings opportunities but also more questions and a need for the system to provide “better answers”, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council executive chair Charlotte Deane told the conference.

Deane saw a “real opportunity” to make a case for science and research and to think more about how research is performed. “But it’s a challenge as more people interested will ask for answers to more questions,” she added. “There is a need for the system to become fit for purpose to provide better answers.”


Meanwhile, Lorna Wilson, Arma chair, told RPN that she hoped the next UK government would continue ongoing work to reduce bureaucracy in research.

Data protection

In another session, there was a warning that “over-zealous” institutional approaches to data protection could be jeopardising research. Beth Collins, a senior research contracts manager, cautioned that research contracts should not overstate the implications of the Data Protection Act for researchers.

Artificial intelligence

Research managers were also encouraged to experiment with and use artificial intelligence in their jobs.

Rupert Lorraine, director of the Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth, said he had a sense that research managers felt “overwhelmed and anxious about using AI”.

But he identified many aspects of research management where AI could help managers become more efficient in their roles, including in drafting letters of support for grant applications—and he demonstrated the use of an AI model to create an early career researcher coaching programme, complete with a website, in two minutes.

Research culture

There is a reputational risk for universities not engaging in responsible research assessment, another session heard. Elizabeth Gadd, head of research culture and assessment at Loughborough University, which is a co-lead of the UK national chapter of the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment, predicted that “a time is coming where there is a reputational risk for those not engaging in this agenda [for responsible research assessment]”.

Gadd added that “the rankings are intellectually incoherent, as pointed out by my institution. We can’t, as intellectuals, continue to support and promote rankings as they are.”

The conference also heard details of the University of Oxford’s training courses on research integrity, which aim to push back against pressures that mean “what’s good for research is not aligned with what’s good for research careers”.

UKRI funding

And UK Research and Innovation representatives urged research managers to ensure that post-award teams in their institutions are able to access UKRI’s new funding service as the winding down of the Joint Electronic Submission system—also known as Je-S—nears its conclusion.