In the framework of the last HÉTFA Working Paper Series, colleagues of our International Project Office (Division for International Cooperation), Zsuzsanna Balázs, Enikő Virágh, Virág Zsár presented the newest discussion paper on the importance and recognition of research management and administration (RMA) profession. The paper under the title ‘Research Management and Administration: a profession still be to be formalized’ examines training needs possibly implemented through higher educational programmes which can support the training of future experts working on such projects.

Following an extensive literature review, the paper analyses the outcomes of an online survey completed by research managers and administrators from more 31 European countries.

According to the main results, in most European countries research managers describe their job in similar ways. It is considered a very interesting job, which is really diverse and requires a wide variety of skills and there are continuous opportunities to learn and develop oneself. At the same time, such a profession as RMA does not exist:  the lack of professional identity has many consequences such as many misunderstandings, lack of recognition and proper information, lack of clear carrier perspective, as well as high levels of uncertainty which can cause serious difficulties in recruiting.

Due to the above-mentioned problems, a possible educational programme and the introduction of a European or internationally recognized certificate should not target professionals but potential research managers. The education programme could contribute to clarify and strengthen the RMA professional identity, raise awareness about the existence of the profession, set the expectations about the job, enhance talent pool and reduce the investment needed in newcomers regarding time and energy. Based on our research, the educational programme should rely on the so-called soft skills such as problem-solving, multitasking, interpersonal competences etc. Due to the professional nature of RMAs, a practice-oriented, flexible modular training form would be ideal, supplemented by mentorship programme and coaching.

The discussion paper is available here.