EARMA Conference Oslo


Professionalisation of research management in Africa


EARMA Conference Oslo

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Topic: Professional Development and Recognition


Research management (including administration) is an emerging profession in Africa, with ongoing efforts to encourage institutional recognition of research management competence and backing this with incentives and career development plans.

The Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA), supported by the other professional associations in Africa, initiated a programme as impetus to the professionalisation of research management. The first phase resulted in a Professional Competency Framework (PCF) that was developed through research, learning from constituencies and drawing on international practice, while consulting with members, employers, and other stakeholders.

The second phase involved the establishment of an autonomous International Professional Recognition Council (IPRC) to lead the development of a framework for a professional recognition programme for research management. Besides their role in overseeing the standards for professional recognition, the IPRC additionally has an advocacy role and endorses research management training to encourage ongoing development of competence.

The professional recognition programme sets out to recognise prior learning, experience, functional and transferable competence and achievements, regardless of whether such competence was achieved formally - recognising what individuals already know and are able to do. Individuals present portfolios of evidence for review by peers on the IPRC confirming whether they have met the standards expected for achieving professional status. Depending on the level and experience of the applicant the designation of Research Administrator Professional (RAP), Research Management Professional (RMP) and Senior Research Management Professional (SRMP) can be awarded.

The professional recognition programme provides a framework for individuals to progress, enrich, develop and enhance their practice, expertise, knowledge, skills and professional values. A professional designation confirms the individual has demonstrated core and transferable competencies and that s/he has contributed to significant achievements and contributions in research management in their particular context. Renewal of the status, after five years or being recognised in a higher category would confirm continuing development of skills and growth as a professional.

The presentation will aim to achieve the following:
• To provide insight into the aspirations of the IPRC to establish the professional recognition programme as a catalyst for professionalisation of research management in Africa, whilst drawing from international practise and standards to ensure global relevance.
• To share the main features and attributes of the PCF.
• To outline the context of research management in Africa and how this has influenced the design of the professional recognition programme.
• To describe the operating model and support structure to deliver the professional development programme including how the programme has been able to leverage and benefit from funding from a variety of sources along the way, to ensure continuity in its strive towards sustainability.
• To share the life stories and professional development journeys of three recognised professionals.
• To share key lessons of the programme design and execution which may be relevant to the European context and to highlight the scope for further collaboration with other research management associations to bolster the profile, professionalism and performance of research managers.