Research management critical for Indian labs

By Dr. Aditi Jain

Published on 7, May, 2018

Attired in white lab coat, mixing oddly colored chemicals or observing tiny creatures through microscope and working with sophisticated instruments. That’s how a typical scientist may look like in popular imagination.

But that’s not the full picture. In reality, academic researchers in institutes and universities have to perform far more duties than just handling experimental work. They have to look after administrative and management part of research grants, apart from technical aspects. This entails keeping track of research funding opportunities, fellowships, budgets, processing bills, preparing utilization certificates and so on. Such an over-burdened scientific mind, therefore, often finds it difficult to pursue and delve deep into intricacies of science which is primary task of working scientists.

A solution to the problem is to create a cadre of individuals who can take care of research management tasks in research institutions. Such research managers can lessen administrative load on scientists by taking over responsibilities such as finding and managing national and international funding grants, stimulating collaborations with other institutions, managing policy and regulatory approvals and coordinating with technology transfer and intellectual property professionals. They can also help increase the visibility of their organization by communicating their research outputs globally. Such positions are common in institutes in the developed world. 

To bridge the gap, Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance has launched an India Research Management Initiative (IRMI).  Under this, India Alliance will work with academic institutions to identify their research management gaps and develop a mechanism for training and deploying professionals who can utilize their scientific backgrounds to effectively communicate and manage research projects.

 “Research management is conducted at the boundary of research and other disciplines such as business and communications. The long-term goal of IRMI is to generate successful research managers across the country and connect them to a professional network. Such a network will be hugely enabling for their career growth and promoting their professional competence,” explained Dr. Savita Ayyar, consultant at the India Alliance, while speaking to India Science Wire.

The programme is currently being implemented as a pilot project to put together a detailed account of how research is being managed at different institutions and identify gaps in the system. Recently, a sharing session was organized at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, which included members of the scientific leadership at the participating institutions along with research managers. 

The format of the workshop allowed for in-depth sharing of ideas, along with a detailing of the barriers to implementation. More such workshops are planned in other parts of the country. The aim is to get a comprehensive view of research management in India so as to guide future policy and specific funding opportunities via the India Alliance. 

“We believe that efficient research management structures are needed for Indian institutions to become globally competitive. This initiative aims to catalyze that. It also supports our mission of building excellence in Indian science”, said Dr. Shahid Jameel, CEO of the India Alliance. Institutions intending to participate in IRMI can register at the India Alliance. 

 (This is from a syndicated feed from India Science Wire)