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SPLASH ERA-Net Research Management Course

Course Background

The SPLASH ERA-Net has four objectives. They are to:

  • Coordinate existing water for development research
  • Establish good research management practice
  • Improve the user of research in policy and practice
  • Establish joint funding activities

This "Research Management Course (RMC)" is a direct contribution to the second objective of establishing good research management practice.

The Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) of Loughborough University and the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology (DVDB) of the University of Copenhagen provided technical inputs to SPLASH for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the Danish Water Forum, and are responsible for preparing this course.

During 2007-2008, WEDC and DVDB undertook studies on research management, which indicated that the research funding landscape was changing. Increasingly:

  • Funding agencies favour larger research contracts by value (i.e. over 1m Euro) over small. This is primarily driven by their need to contain the administrative load of managing research contracts
  • Funding agencies expect applications from research consortia, preferably with North – South representation. The management of such consortia can become complicated by geographical dispersion; differences in cultures, communication, research approach etc.

The studies also found that many research managers have had no specific training on how to manage trans-national teams implementing high-value development research. Funding agencies assume that research managers' academic and scientific competence equips them to manage such complex teams effectively. The studies also showed that many researchers are unaware of funding agencies agendas: what drives funding agencies? What do they expect from their clients?

Given this background, SPLASH members accepted that there is a need for a course on the fundamentals of research management that would be freely available for use by interested parties. SPLASH funded the development of the course.

Course Audience

This course is intended as resource material for use by universities and research institutes that wish to run courses on research management for water for development. However, the RMC is generic in its approach and may be applicable to non-water sectors, too. The resource materials provide an entry point for preparing a course on research management. Users of the materials should add to that provided here particularly with a view to contextualizing the course for its audience.

Course Content

The resource materials provided are contained in eight folders (each downloadable as a zip file) below. They include:

  1. RMC – Generic course introduction, objectives and programme [1.7 MB]
    This folder gives an example of an introduction, objectives and programme for running a one-week course on research management using the materials provided.
  2. RMC – Unit 1-7 Text [9.5 MB]
    This folder provides the background reading in book format. The book is divided into units each with its own pdf. The units cover the following:
      –   Introduction to the course
      –   Choosing a research call
      –   Proposal development
      –   Contract negotiation
      –   Managing the research
      –   Communication and uptake
      –   Monitoring and evaluation
    There is also included a pdf that combines all units in one file.
  3. RMC – Unit 1-7 PowerPoint presentations [8.3 MB]
    This folder includes PowerPoint presentations on each unit above that can be adapted to suit the course.
  4. RMC – Various guidelines and tools on research management [14 MB]
    This folder contains supplementary reading material on research management from other sources.
  5. RMC – Examples of research calls and application guides [3.6 MB]
    This folder includes examples of research calls, applicant guidelines, and proposal templates.
  6. RMC – Proposal evaluation criteria [1 MB]
    This folder includes examples of proposal evaluation criteria. These are by no means comprehensive and have been included only to illustrate the range of criteria that are employed and the variation in them.
  7. RMC – Links to more information on research management [1 MB]
    This folder includes links to more general information on research management.
  8. SPLASH – Selected fact sheets [1.2MB]
    This folder includes fact-sheets on SPLASH which were prepared from the findings of SPLASH studies on research management referred to earlier.

Using the Course

The course materials are provided for universities, and training institutes who wish to run a course on research management. The course material can also be used for self-directed study by individuals interested in research management. There are no restrictions on the use of the material. However, please acknowledge the course authors and the funding from the EU through the SPLASH ERA-Net that paid for course development.

Further information

Should you need more information or wish to provide comments for improvements or changes please contact: Frank Odhiambo (WEDC) or Peter Furu (DVDB).