Administrative support for research is given not just by the Division of Research Management, but also from financial and communication personnel, the library, IT and a number of others. A broad spectrum of administrative support is essential in the case of developing and implementing large research projects in particular. In 2017, a project support team was established which shall make it easier for academic employees to make use of the various administrative services. The project support team draws on resources from most administrative departments, and is thus also part of raising awareness of the different departments’ roles as contributors to the administrative research support offered to academic staff. The establishment of this team is considered to be a first step towards more multidisciplinary and professionalised research support.
Exactly how administrative support functions are shared between the Faculties and the central administration varies. The research management at UIA is placed both within the central administration, and locally. The local research administration is largely located at Faculty level, but in some cases also at department level. The Division of Research Management has, as of today, eight man-labour years, which extend from support for project development and implementation to internationalisation and copy editing, PhD education, and questions on ethics privacy protection, as well as different secretariat functions (Table 3).
Table 3. Man-labour years in research management at UIA, divided according to research administrative fields
Research management total at the Faculties
Division of Research Management
0.10 (+ 1 man-labour year in the Division of Financial Services)
Other work tasks within R&D
Total man-labour years in research management
Several Faculties note that the research administrative support has improved in recent years. The general feedback given is nonetheless that there is still a need for more research administrative support, and especially locally, as close to the researchers as is possible. The Faculties´ research management currently has several tasks. Nobody works with project support alone. It has therefore taken time to raise this particular kind of expertise at the Faculties. There must be sufficient resources available if the Faculties’ expertise with regard to project support (project development and implementation) is to be increased. The involvement of administrative personnel in the project, preferably as early as possible, is a decisive factor for the success of the projects. This message must be communicated by the academic management, including deans and heads of department. The Faculty management must actively ensure that the project is implemented and integrated along both academic and administrative lines.
Where do we want to be? – Vision for 2027
A professionalised value chain of research management.
In 2027, all administrative support functions contribute effectively to research projects as part of the project support team, in such a way that researchers feel that the administrative part of projects is easily manageable. UIA’s Division of Research Management is characterised by a value chain of research administrators. The Faculties’ research administrations work closely with the academic environment, and are well acquainted with the fields in which the researchers work. They are prime movers in application processes. The research management in the central administration has expertise in areas which not every Faculty is able to and, through dialogue with the EU and the Research Council of Norway, is familiar with the trends in the range of instruments in general and EU programmes and announcements in particular. The Central Administration’s research management delivers services in connection with the application process and contributes to the development of extensive applications such as centre and EU applications, as well organising skills development measures for the researches and the research management, and contributes to a good flow of information and development of best practice between the Faculties. The research management at UIA shall assist the academic staff and thus be an active contributor to their work as lecturers and researchers.
A knowledgeable administration The Division of Research Management at UIA is not only skilled at sharing knowledge internally, but is also adept at bringing in knowledge from the sector in general, for example from other universities. NARMA – the Norwegian Network for Research Management – shall develop a skills development programme for research management nationally. UIA has taken on the responsibility of developing the programme and will also be one of its users.
Infrastructure and tools The research management staff have good digital tools both for project teamwork and project and financial management. UIA has tools that make it possible to both save and make available research data. The Division of Research Management possesses a good overview of available infrastructure which can be found at UIA, ref. the chapter on research infrastructure.
Facilitating for academic and administrative multidisciplinarity The Faculties’ research advisers can also serve as spokespeople for their academic environments. They can represent the environment in its contact with the region, but also when interacting with other Faculties. They are thus a part of increasing multidisciplinarity and co-creation with the region. The Division of Research Management at UIA also has knowledge concerning announcements by the way of education, and is a contributor in the connection between education and research.
Differentiated support The research management support is adapted to the research group and centres’ level of ambition. It is important that centres and well-developed research groups have a strong local research management which provides support within the group’s fields, and is an active contributor to application writing, amongst other things. During the next ten years, there will still be a need for external consultants in project development and project implementation. At the same time, the Division of Management at UIA will learn from the external consultants and, to an increasing extent, supplement the consultancy work in such a way that project expertise is built up. It is still the researchers who have the main responsibility in the project development, and the applications must be written in collaboration between the academic environment and the administration.
Larger projects The institution needs several administrative project managers who can contribute to the implementation of larger projects. Dedicated project leaders should be employed who will ultimately become self-financing. To an increasing extent, it should also be feasible to bring in dedicated project positions from other administrative departments, who can also work with communication and dissemination. These will, in the long-term, be self-financing in the sense that they are financed by external project funds.
What must be done to arrive at this stage? – Measures for the years to come
The administration exists to serve the academic staff and their work, and the culture reflects the sense that all links in the value chain are of equal important. The culture is built up in the sense that the advantages of utilising each other’s professional knowledge are seen, and thus the administration’s services for the academics are recognised. The University Management is focused on building up this culture.
The Faculties must strengthen their local research management so that they can work in a dedicated fashion with project development and implementation. The Faculties are equipped in such a way as is most expedient, but there must be at least one man-labour year dedicated to project development and dissemination, and sufficient resources available for project implementation.
A knowledge-based and sharing culture is to be further developed between all parties which contributes to administrative support for research.
The Division of Research Management will seek to actively increase its expertise in order to provide the best possible services for the academic staff.
EU consultancy is a complex area which is in a constant state of change. Those who have this as their field of work must be able to exercise sufficient focus in order to cultivate the requisite expertise to be able to provide adequate support to the Faculties.
The project support team must be built up further so as to provide holistic support to research projects from all relevant administrative units.
How UIA can, to a greater extent, be present in Brussels for the purposes of having a more visible profile, a better flow of information and the possibility to influence H2020 and other EU programmes, must be assessed.