Scientific knowledge is increasingly recognized as a driver of economic growth, societal well-being, and progress, making research a crucial component of modern society, with countless discoveries and innovations transforming our world for the better. However, this research cannot be conducted in a vacuum – it requires dedicated professionals and communities to manage and support it. The research management community and personnel dedicated to research support play a crucial role in fostering a culture of research excellence and innovation.
The recognition of a growingly crucial professional role
The importance of research management has been recognized at the highest levels of government and policy-making.
In Europe, the European Research Area (ERA) Policy agenda, specifically Action 17, emphasizes the importance of research management and support structures in enhancing the competitiveness and impact of European research. Action 17 calls for the development of research management capacities and the implementation of best practices in research support services, including training, career development, and networking opportunities for research managers and administrators.
Similarly, in Catalonia, Article 17 of the Science Law highlights the importance of research management as a fundamental pillar of the research system. The law recognizes the need for a specialized workforce dedicated to research management and support, capable of providing high-quality services to the research community, facilitating the transfer of knowledge and technology, and promoting innovation.
PRBB research managers involvement in Europe-wide initiatives
One notable initiative in this field is the RM Roadmap (Research Management Roadmap), which seeks to develop a comprehensive framework for research management across Europe. By bringing together stakeholders from across the research ecosystem, including funders, universities, and research organizations, the RM Roadmap aims to identify best practices, training opportunities, address common challenges, and develop a shared vision for the future of research management.
Earlier on this year, the project opened the participation to Research Managers and Administrators (RMA), the RM Roadmap Ambassadors. They are community builders and online moderators who gather input from and engage national and local research management communities to participate in the RM Roadmap co-creation activities to design the future of research management. Giulia Pollarolo, Severo Ochoa Programme Manager at Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) was named as Associate Ambassador for Spain, with the support of the community of research managers of the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) locally, and of the SOMMa alliance at the Spanish level.
Giulia Pollarolo, Project Manager at ISGlobal, is an Associate Ambassador for Spain within the European project RM Roadmap
Additionally, in the context of Action 17, the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation of the EC has invited key organisations and stakeholders from the Member States to take part in thematic workshops providing recommendations on implementing the ERA Policy agenda. In his role as the chair of the Marie Curie Alumni Association (MCAA) research management working group, Jonas Krebs, Senior Project Manager at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), participates in these “ad hoc” workshops focused on developing and coordinating activities related to recognition, upskilling, networking, and capacity building of the research managers profession.
Jonas Krebs, Senior Project Manager at the CRG, participates in thematic workshops providing recommendations on implementing the ERA Policy agenda
The prioritization of research management in the ERA Policy agenda is a major advancement in the potential development of management capacity in research organisations. This is being developed through the ERA FORUM, where EU member states, associated countries and relevant stakeholder organizations drive the implementation of the ERA policy. Marta Agostinho, Executive Director of EU-LIFE, the alliance of research institutes in the life sciences across Europe spearheaded by and based at the CRG, is a representative in the ERA Forum. In particular for Action 17, Marta Agostinho is actively participating in its subgroup and activities. In addition, she is member of the Advisory Board of RM-Roadmap.
Another important project is CARDEA, a cross-European, EU-backed project where PRBB centres participate via CERCA, which is one of the projects’ partners. CARDEA (which stands for Career Acknowledgement for Research (Managers) Delivering for the European Area) aims to promote good research practice and improve the management of research data across Europe. By providing training, tools, and support for research managers and personnel, CARDEA’s goal is to develop a common framework for the professionalization of research support staff, including the definition of competencies, training programs, and certification schemes.
By recognizing the importance of research management and support, policymakers and funders can help ensure that research is conducted effectively, efficiently, and ethically
Initiatives such as the CARDEA and RM Roadmap projects are helping to promote best practices, address common challenges, and develop a shared vision for the future of research management. By recognizing the importance of research management and support, policymakers and funders can help ensure that research is conducted effectively, efficiently, and ethically, maximizing its impact and benefitting society as a whole.
This post was written by Gabriele Picarella and Joana Porcel, research managers at the PRBB. Gabriele Picarella is Preaward Coordinator at the CRG and has extensive experience of research administration on both the management of sponsored projects and the development of competitive funding strategies. Joana Porcel is the Head of the Projects Unit and Research Manager at ISGlobal, she has been working in research management for more than 15 years bridging the gap between science and administration.