EARMA Conference Oslo

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Bridging the R&I divide within Europe

How to enhance the excellence and research infrastructure of WIDERA countries?

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Policy, Strategy, Evaluation and Foresight

Alexandra Medzibrodszky

While the Horizon 2020 funding framework has produced great results and impacts across Europe, its effectiveness to bridge the research&innovation divide between East and West is a more complicated question. This roundtable invites participants to reflect on past developments (impact of Horizon 2020 on R&I capacity building in widening countries, targeted calls, imbalance of funding) and the potential of Horizon Europe to address the lingering issues and offer new opportunities for building convergence and a more even European Research Area.

How to achieve the goals with RDI services?

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Organising Support Services & Team Building

Sanna Juvonen

The topic of Discussion Table relates to the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) work and how RDI, more specific pre-award services, can support in achieving the goals in RDI funding. Host presenter, development manager Sanna Juvonen leads RDI service team at Finnish University of Applied Sciences, Laurea. She is responsible of pre award services, which have been created due to the organizational change, where faculty became responsible persons of RDI-project in addition to submitting RDI applications. Services are meant for faculty who participates to the project application process. The need and level of support varies depending on how experienced the faculty is in RDI and what kind of help is needed in project preparation process. Services differ from sparring the idea according to the funding instrument, guidance, building a consortium, supporting the search for partners and the quality assurance of the consortium, producing text paragraphs, also directing writing strategically and submitting the application. Communication and guidance of financial instruments means the selection of financial instrument and suggestion of options, review of application criteria.
The development work in RDI services brought out important perspectives in RDI application process. Pre award services are not enough to achieve RDI funding but project preparation team needs to create a common understanding of the goals in addition to the tasks, which are related to the goals. Moreover, project preparation is diverse and requires special expertise. To achieve RDI goals, it is important to clarify, whether project preparation team has the expertise needed in RDI preparation and who are responsible of different tasks in project preparation. Discussion table views practices, how to better achieve the goals with RDI services.

Impact driven multidisciplinary research proposals – challenge for RMA

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Vesna Bozanic

Adjusting the pre-award process early enough to implement the structure leading to impactful outcomes is often a challenging task for the pre-award RMA supporting the multidisciplinary proposals. Diversified scientific teams participating in multidisciplinary proposals view differently their contributions to the expected impact of the research project. Experienced pre-award RMA will support multidisciplinary team in finding focus on distinct contribution to the expected impact, while meeting the specificities of the particular funding call/program.

Managing Projects or Managing Uncertainty? The Complex Role of the Post-Award PM

Defining project leadership, responsibility and accountability in the context of standard PM methodologies

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Project Management

Richard Twohig

Over the last year, the authors have collected survey data on existing capacities, structures and best practice in research project management across Europe. We found that while all respondents were involved in project support, less than a quarter had any formal training in project management, and only 20% consistently follow a standard project management methodology. Many of these RMAs are designated ‘project manager’ alongside a Principle Investigator (PI), but we asked ourselves, if the PI is accountable and responsible for project delivery, how well do the standard methodologies apply to the RMA-Project Manager role?

Measuring societal impact; the quantitative vs qualitative approach

A discussion towards a common societal impact analysis framework

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Impact

Tim van Veen

The societal impact of academic research is increasingly getting attention. The impact planned for in the first Horizon Europe grant proposals where this was a requirement, should by now have materialized. But the EU lacks a clear framework for societal impact analysis. Therefore, a debate about how to measure societal impact is long overdue.

Working in research support in a university hospital in the Netherlands, the UMC Groningen, I notice a stark contrast between two ways of showcasing societal impact. My librarian colleagues focus strongly on measuring societal impact metrics of our institute as a whole. The way they are able to collect impact metrics is nothing short of impressive, but in my view this approach ignores the intricate nuances of a given impact project somewhat. On the other hand, my colleagues of the communication department have a keen eye for the story, but without quantitative support, the showcased impact lacks hard evidence and makes comparisons between institutions or projects impossible.

My experience in the United Kingdom taught me that both strategies could be reconciled. When I was working in an impact team at a Welsh university, I noticed there was a very strong focus on evidencing impact. Per impact project an impact case study was written, where often quantitative data was collected to show the reach of the claimed impact. This was then combined with qualitative data, to show the significance, or depth, of the impact. Both this quantitative and qualitative data are then brought together into one narrative and presented as an impact case study. For instance: “Our newly developed medical treatment has had the following positive effects on these ten interviewed patients. The treatment has been applied a thousand times, therefore, the health benefits of the treatment can be extrapolated, giving a sense of both reach and significance.”

Combining both quantitative and qualitative evidence in an impact case study, much like the British approach, allows for showcasing all facets of societal impact of research. However, benchmarking against other institutes is arbitrary (when compared to a purely quantitative approach). Where do you stand in this debate? Should your institution focus on qualitative evidence, allowing for the broadest range of impact possible but forsaking comparability? Or should we develop a finite list of impact indicators so we could compare our institution against others? Or thirdly, as proposed here, a combination of the two; best of both worlds or the worst?

Take home message: increasingly, research funders focus on the societal impact of the projects they fund. To assess whether higher education institutions have delivered on their promises requires a societal impact assessment framework. What should impact assessment look like, should we follow a qualitative or a quantitative approach, or a mix of both?

The ERC game: grant assignment mechanism and choice to apply

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Arina Shadrikova

We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of grant assignment mechanisms, in particular the ERC bottom-up approach. The bottom-up assignment mechanism avoids arbitrary prioritization across fields and domains. However, it ends up penalizing fields with smaller uncertainty about applicants ranking. In such fields, applicants below the winning threshold are less likely to apply, reducing the number of applications and—by the bottom-up approach—also reducing the number of awardees in the field. In contrast, the top-down approach avoids that researchers’ “choice to apply” affects the distribution of grants across fields. However, this requires a decision about how to assign grants across fields.

The European RMA Community: The Leiden Group

A dialogue and discussion about building a broad European RMA community

Format: Fifteen-Minute Discussion Tables

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: EARMA and professional associations

Dr John Donovan

In 2015 various European RMA networks, including EARMA, gathered in Leiden, The Netherlands, to consider the establishment of a pan-European network of networks with the specific objective of working together to support RMAs working across the continent.

The Leiden Group was never conceived of as an umbrella-association or a 'one ring to rule them all' association but as a shared workspace promoting mutual collaborations where, critically, each member maintains their own identity and role but pools our shared experiences and requirements.

Now we, the originators of the idea, want to bring the idea to the wider RMA community, all of our members and give colleagues the chance to be part of a wider discussion.

Challenges for RMA involved in a European University Network, the case of Ghent University in the ENLIGHT consortium

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Organising Support Services & Team Building

Dirk De Craemer

The European University Alliance, called ENLIGHT, won
extra project funding through the SwafS call under H2020. This project (named
ENLIGHT RISE) is coordinated by the University of Bordeaux.

The goals of this project are put forward at the level
of the alliance: 1) empower R&I transformation; 2) increase the research
capacity; 3) strengthen the innovation capacity; 4) increase the capacity to
attract and retain talents; 5) create impact for society; 6) contribute to the
longer-term deployment of European Universities.

At Ghent University, most activities will be performed
at the central research department. There are 9 work packages leading to 47
project deliverables within a timeframe of 3 years. This adds an extra workload
on the shoulders of the Research Managers and Administrators (RMA) at each of
the 9 ENLIGHT partners.

Unfortunately, the project funding is too limited to
significantly reduce this workload. In addition, the international aspect of
the project adds an extra layer of challenges and potential issues on top of
the daily tasks of the RMAs. The RMAs hardly knew their colleagues from the partner
universities and had even never before worked together in the context of a
joint international project.

Within the partnership, the difference in size,
organisation and available personnel at each partners’ Research Support Office
(RSO) and Tech Transfer Offices (TTOs) has equally played its role and proven a
challenge to quickly identify the most indicated contact person for each work
package.

With 9 partners (with 2 different time zones) and 9
work packages leading to 47 deliverables, the project is work intense including
a speedy and vast sequence of meetings which further stresses the RMAs
availability. Furthermore, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the RSOs/RMAs
have been unable to physically meet during neither the proposal nor the start-up
and execution phases of the project, thereby slowing down the mutual
acquaintance and possibility to lengthy talk some issues through and thoroughly
outlay and discuss each other’s priorities, work organisation and institutional
strategies.

Other challenges include the (non)existing fields of
expertise, how to include/interest researchers to the centrally led project, the
different (level of) experiences between the partnership concerning valorisation,
the re-assessment within RSOs of self-created work tools and work processes,
communicating the broader European University Network strategy amongst administrators
and researchers, linking different strategies on topics as e.g. young researchers,
etc.

To tackle many of these challenges, the network has – amongst
others – highly engaged in consortium wide mapping and internal surveys.At the EARMA conference 2022 we will share and discuss
our experiences at Ghent University with regard to the start of this project
and the execution of a first set of project activities during the first half
year of this project.

Connecting research support structures to stimulate an impact culture among researchers

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Impact

Arne Vandenbogaerde

In many universities the turn to recognizing and rewarding impact beyond the academic realm has been taken. At Ghent university such desire to recognize and appreciate other forms of impact has been formalized into policies and support structures at the central and faculty level. However, challenges remain on how to implement and operationalize those policies. What kind of support (structure) do our researchers need? What initiatives lead to a conducive or stimulating environment or culture to focus on societal and economic impact of one’s research?

Grant proposal : journey or end?

Researchers and RMAs spend considerable time and effort writing grant proposals. How much of it is worth it?

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Policy, Strategy, Evaluation and Foresight

Rosa Bernal Carrera

Modern public science funding practices involve ever larger recourse to grant-in-aid systems. The recent plummeting success rates proportionally increase the amount of time researchers have to spend on project proposals, and the need for more research support staff. In response, recent research has shown the lack of predictive validity of grant schemes. Against this background, we propose in this panel discussion session to start reflecting on the question of how much time and effort researchers’ and RMA’s should allocate to answering calls for projects.

Managing Grant Audits Under the New Normal

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Project Management

Ellen Thompson

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos and challenges throughout the whole world. This session aims to provide working solutions in how to manage Horizon:2020 (and indeed other Funder) audits in such a climate.
Topics covered include:
- Working remotely and from home
- Access to substantive evidence
- How specific Funders are treating the effects of the pandemic
- What specific Funders won't (or will) accept in terms of evidence
- How to resolve issues that arise and innovative solutions

Promoting the RMA profession over the globe

How the RMA profession is understood in different contexts?

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: International

Jaroslav Sip

Universities, research organisations and states all around the world, each in different intensities, agree that international cooperation shall play the key role in further development towards excellence in research. Yet the level of support and means of facilitating of such cooperation differ as in many cases the vague idea of “making good thing” prevails, but the handling of such cooperation itself may in practice be a challenge without prior experience.

Refurbishing researcher’s information profiles in (post)COVID era

Format: Oral 30 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Ana Estellés

Are researcher’s online profiles targeted to fund raising purposes? Can it be an effective tool for pattern matching? How can we help researchers "to sell" their profiles in online brokerage events? This presentation will arise discussion on lights and shadows of online brokerage events.

Acknowledging Each Other’s Craftsmanship: Perspectives on Proposal–writing support

PANEL SESSION

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Deirdre Caden

It is widely recognised that the researcher is best placed to write the research parts of proposals, for example, most of the Excellence section of European Commission Research & Innovation Action proposals. The rest of the proposal – the Impact and Implementation sections – are where the researcher often needs help and guidance, and this is where the pre-award research support professional comes in.
The entire RIA/IA proposal benefits from pre-submission reviews and input from multiple professionals, both internal to the researcher’s organisation, and external, in the shape of proposal writing consultants. Both the local research support manager and the external consultant consider aspects such as:

- Is the proposal message clear?
- Is there a coherent story in the proposal that makes it compelling for the reader/evaluator?
- What factors persuade the evaluator to read on?
- How do we convince the evaluator that this is the right team to deliver this proposal?
- How timely and novel is this proposal?
- What is the unique selling point of this proposal and how will it deliver to the Commission exactly what they are looking for?

These are the questions always in the background in supporting researchers to craft successful proposals. This presentation will address how RMAs can best engage with proposal-writing consultants towards the goal of successful proposals. We hope to use this time to provoke a wider discussion on RMA’s and consultants’ experiences from both perspectives and will explore aspects of pre-award support, such as:

-Common traits of winning proposals; Hints and tips on common problems seen in EC proposals (by consultants and research support staff)

- Optimal modes of interaction between pre-award RMAs in academic institutions and external consultants; discuss ways in which pre-award university professional support staff can interact with external consultants for maximum benefit to the researcher

- Discussion of researcher perceptions of the value of local, compared to external, research and innovation support

- Overlap and difference in roles of RMA and consultant: how to delineate responsibilities most effectively for the academic (the customer)

-What are the questions the RMA should ask a consultant before engaging them to support a HE coordination? E.g. Can they support the writing of business and exploitation cases? Will they play a role in Dissemination or Communication as a project partner (post-award)? What would a checklist of questions look like?

-How do you choose the right consultant per programme or research area?

-How do you ensure the consultant is the right fit for the academic/researcher? What factors influence the coordinator: Discipline knowledge, previous success rate, reputation, is it personality-driven?

-Discussion/Q&A: What is the audience’s experience*:

E.g. what are experiences of ‘No win, no fee’ consultants?
We will invite the audience to share good (and bad) experiences of working with RMAs/consultants with a view to complementing each other’s work, respecting our mutual craftsmanship and getting a conversation going about we can best work together to achieve the same goal of maximizing our success.

*Audience members are asked NOT to name specific consultants in their questions/discussions.

EARMA Leadership in Research

A networking event on the EARMA Leadership program for previous participants and interested newcomers

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Professional Development and Recognition

Jan Andersen

The EARMA Leadership Program is transgressing into a new level and the purpose of this event is to share and build on the experiences of the previous Leadership in Research workshops.
Participants are invited to contribute to the content and format of the next generation of the EARMA Leadership program, facilitated and supervised by the planning team.
Key points from learning from previous events, and discussions with the EARMA Boards and Standing Committee members will be presented.

Evolution of research impact (30 min presentation)

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Impact

Elina Rossi

This presentation will look at research impact from RMA’s point of view: how the concept has been understood previously and where we are now. We will discuss the state-of-the-art impact from the 1990s to 2022 and beyond, how the idea of research impact has evolved from counting publications to the current understanding of science-society relations, and how the creation of impact is nowadays viewed as an interactive process. We will also examine the demands of research funders, for example, how Horizon Europe uses the impact pathway model, and bring up examples of national funders’ requirements. We will look at some of the tools and guides available so far and used by RMAs to help researchers understand their impact and write more enticing funding proposals.

How Research Management Associations can play an ever so important Role in the New Normal

Format: Oral 60 Minutes

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: EARMA and professional associations

Dr Ara Tahmassian

Shortly after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a “COVID-19 Pandemic” on March 11, 2020, country after country followed suit declaring a state of emergency. In their efforts to stop the spread of a virus the declaration of emergencies included imposing restrictions on social interaction and closing non-essential businesses. With these declarations, the majority of universities across the world moved their teaching activities and majority of research projects to a virtual environment. The impact of this global shift to virtual operations was unprecedented as researchers, local and international collaborators, funding and governmental agencies, and research administration professional all moved towards a virtual work environment primarily working alone and from home.

Over 18 months after the initial declaration, the world is moving towards what is being called the “new normal”, with continued precautionary restrictions (e.g. vaccination requirements, use of face masks, periodic testing of employees for COVD-19 virus, etc.). One of the major changes in this new normal impacting the employees, especially also research managers and administrators is the move towards alternative work schedules which include a continuation of working remotely or a hybrid work schedule in which employees split their times between working remotely and in their offices. The experiences of the past 18 months have shown that research managers across the globe have continued to provide their research community with the support needed effectively and efficiently and that the new work schedules offer them to balance their needs with those of their jobs.

While a remote or hybrid work environment provides many benefits for both employers (e.g. ability to recruit employees from a wider geographical area or retain the existing workforce) and employees, it also offers some disadvantages for the employees as they become somewhat isolated from their colleagues at work. This is where the important role of Research Management Associations across the globe grows significantly in the “new normal”! Associations have played an important role in bringing the research management and administration communities together and help connecting them; this is the moment where this role becomes critical and where the Associations can become the solid bridge between the membership in exchanging experiences, foster knowledge transfer and reciprocal learning.

In this discussion session we hope to initiate a spark exchange amongst participants on this important topic to identify specific actions that the Associations can take individually, or collectively, to help the research management and administration community to stay connected with each other for the benefit of the researchers whom they serve.

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions and Erasmus+: how enhance synergies

How enhance synergies among education, research and innovation on the two programmes MSCA and Erasmus+

Format: Pecha Kucha

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Dr Valentina Airi

Here we look possible synergies/complementarities between actions targeting higher education: MSCA under Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. Both schemes offer opportunities for mobility, training, career development and staff exchange. They have a strong international dimension beyond the EU and contribute strengthening Europe’s attractiveness. However, university staff often work in silos, and those dealing with the MSCA might not be aware of Erasmus+, and vice versa. This Pecha Kucha highlight successful synergies between these programmes promoting the joint participation.

Take the customer journey

Pre-award support for EU funding in the new normal

Format: Poster

Category: Discussion Starter

Topic: Proposal Development

Heli Honkanen

We present service design methodology as a practical tool for developing user-friendly EU funding pre-award support services in small research organizations. Growing competition for research funding has increased the need to design efficient pre-award support services to provide targeted services to enhance researchers’ fund-raising continuum of their research career in the new normal. We discuss how implementation of research management can benefit from service design and what new challenges entering the new normal brings to the support services and how they could be solved.