Research Administrator Day 2018

Research Administrator Day 2018

President's Message, from Campbell Thomson:

Research Administrator Day is an event initiated by fellow INORMS association member the National Council of Research Administrators (US)  to acknowledge and celebrate those working in our profession. 
The day, now recognised internationally, is celebrated annually on the 25th of September by many research management associations including ARMS.
On behalf of the ARMS Board, I'd like to wish all our members a "Happy Administrator Day" and trust that you are taking time to celebrate the importance of our profession. 

 The ARMS Executive Office held a competition for members celebrating Research Administrator Day. Please see all of the fun, creative and productive celebrations below. Congratulations to the team at The University of Western Australia, our 2018 winners with a fantastic comic strip!

University of Western Australia - ORE'S Fantastic Journey

Executive Office Award Winners!

Research Administrator’s Day was a fabulous team building opportunity. It gave us the chance to consider what sorts of questions our colleagues face from researchers every day, and we had a great time doing it! 

We thought it might be fun to convert the day’s celebrations of a team stroll, puzzles and morning tea into a comic strip. We all know that researchers are our priority so what happens when our walk is interrupted…?

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 University of South Australia

Our research administrators at UniSA work across 3 teams (Admissions, Scholarships & Candidature, Examinations).

We work closely with each other to make the administration path smooth for our HDR students and research staff.

We value our collaborations within and external to our university (ARMS networks are great!).

Thanks to ARMS for nominating a day of recognition.

We took time together late on a sunny Tuesday afternoon to pop into the ‘Clever Little Tailor’ on Peel St, Adelaide to celebrate Research Administrators Day, and the support we offer to our ‘Clever Little Researchers’ (see sign on the door!)




On the 25th September, the UQ Research Administrators Network and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) co-hosted a networking event to celebrate Research Administrators Day.

We celebrated with an inspiring speech, good humour and lots of good old fashioned fun. The type of fun that requires you to get out of your seat, yell out tongue twisters, make strange noises and design yourself an imaginary motivational sticker.

The morning commenced with Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Infrastructure) Professor Joe Shapter’s welcome. Joe emphasised the wonderful work research administrators do to support UQ’s research success and how much this is valued by the University. He encouraged us to take the time whilst gathered to share our experiences of supporting academics, the good, the bad and the frustrating!

Next, Barbara Warren, Director of Dramatic Difference and a keynote speaker at the recent ARMS conference in Hobart, provided a very interactive session on the importance of positivity and clear communication in the workplace. The group were both inspired and energised by Barbara’s session, and those unable to make the trip to the ARMS conference were grateful to hear her talk.

This was followed by an opportunity to network over morning tea and a trivia quiz that sought to test general knowledge of research administration, and the university. Unsurprisingly, the winning team of the trivia competition were self-named ‘The Winners’.

In the end, it was great to stop and celebrate the work that we do and to meet others known by name, but not by face. 

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James Cook University

James Cook University Australia held its inaugural Research Administrator Day celebration on 25 September 2018 over morning tea with about 35 staff participating across Townsville and Cairns campuses. 

Opening the event was Rochelle Finlay, JCU’s Director Research Services, who acknowledged the growing importance of research administration internationally. Rochelle encouraged staff to view research administration as a career path, and to take advantage of opportunities like the training available via ARMS modules. 

2018 has seen the first two JCU staff gain ARMS Accredited Research Manager (Foundation) status with another eight staff due to complete their case studies before the end of the year after undertaking five training modules. One of the already accredited staff has recently become a committee member of the ARMS Queensland, Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea Chapter.
In an exciting announcement, Rochelle advised that the Division of Research and Innovation would provide an annual JCU Research Administrator Scholarship of $3,000, commencing in 2019, for eligible staff to attend the ARMS annual conference or other relevant activity.

Guest speaker Professor Rocky de Nys – leader of the Centre for Macroalgal Resources and Biotechnology, and a prolific senior researcher at JCU – then acknowledged the importance of support provided by JCU’s research administrators to researchers and their teams, and thanked staff for their professionalism and patience on behalf of the broader JCU Academy. 

Staff then enjoyed a delicious morning tea on the balcony of JCU Townsville’s Education Central building and in the foyer of The Cairns Institute, before heading back to work to do what they do best – administer research! 






ARMS ACT Chapter - A play performed by University of Canberra Research Services


ARMS ACT Chapter celebrated Research Administrator Day with an original play performed by University of Canberra Research Services that highlighted the constantly changing landscape that research administrators need to navigate as part of their roles. This raucous comedy – entitled The Submission – was set against the backdrop of a new assessment exercise, with panic setting in as a research administrator struggles to meet the requirements of the new exercise, and an agency in chaos grapples with the complexity of the colossus they have created.

The play was attended by 60-70 people, comprising researchers and administrators from both UC and ANU, as well people form external agencies including the Australian Research Council.

The actors in the photos (from left to right) are Hendryk Flaegel, Anushya Kumar, Ksenia Sawczak, Arvind Reddy, Kate Lyall, Helen Thomas.

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Flinders University, Office of Graduate Research

The Office of Graduate Research at Flinders University celebrated the outstanding, rigorous, compassionate and fun Higher Degree Research Administrators to acknowledge their contribution to our students and supervisors in advancing Australia’s Intellectual life.

We held a surprise morning tea for the team complete with balloons, streamers, platters and cake and the staff felt most appreciated.

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The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation

The Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation is a tiny team, but one that works strategically and with such passion in pursuing our purpose!  We were established over 20 years ago and since inception have invested almost $9m in local medical research, nurturing the medical research aims of clinicians that have linkages to the Royal Hobart Hospital.  After the primary sources of NHMRC and ARC funding, the RHHRF is the third largest funding body of the University of Tasmania’s College of Health and Medicine (our Tas Govt and the Wicking Trust provide other significant sources), so for a small, independent entity of only 3.2fte we take pride in our significant impact despite our rather diminutive size.

Each year we deliver a range of strategically targeted activities designed to generate the revenue required to invest in a highly competitive annual grant round for local medical research.  While the Foundation has invested an average of $650k per annum in its direct research funding in recent years, we are also pursuing growth of a significant corpus which is intended to fuel this further in the next 3 – 5 years.  As part of this strategic program, our equity base has expanded by approximately 250% in the past six years while our success in attracting additional benefactors who accelerate our direct investment by making gifts directly into our research grants has also increased exponentially.

While we review our strategic plan every three years, naturally we undertake a business planning exercise annually.  With a calendar year as our financial period, we take a full day away from our busy schedules each year to connect as a team and undertake a very comprehensive planning workshop – so of course this year we held this on Research Administrator Day!  As a perfect coincidence, our Research Governance Coordinator, Sue Bronstein, who works with us part time and celebrated a birthday late last week chose to make today the day to mark this occasion with a lunch enjoyed in the company of colleagues as we took a quick break from our business planning workshop.

What better way to celebrate Research Administrator Day 2018 – planning all of our research activity for 2019 and celebrating a marvellous milestone with our much-loved Research Governance Coordinator!  Thanks for enabling us to share two pics of the day as we marked this occasion with you Smile

La Trobe University Research Office

The La Trobe University Research Office celebrated Research Administrator Day with a morning tea and a tale from Dr MaryAnne Aitken, Executive Director of the La Trobe Research Office.

MaryAnne took us through her journey to a career in the field of research management. She initially began with a Science Degree, then worked as a nurse, followed by an Honours degree in genetics and a PhD in molecular biology. MaryAnne worked as a genetic counsellor before entering the field of research management. MaryAnne was the Head of Research Strategy at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute at the Royal Children’s Hospital and joined La Trobe as the Executive Director of the Research Office in 2014.

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Southern Cross University Office of Research

Southern Cross University says ‘Happy Administrator Day’!

The Office of Research hosted a celebration and research administrators from across the university answered the call – with staff from Graduate School, Library, Finance and various Schools attending.

In parallel with sampling the catered goodies, research administrators mused over current projects and ways we can communicate more effectively as a group about sector topics and challenges.

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The University of Tasmania, Office of Research Services

The University of Tasmania Office of Research Services (ORS) hosted an afternoon tea in celebration of Research Administrators day. This was a great event that provided the opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the role we play in the research engine. We were able to showcase some of the recent posters that were presented by the ORS at the recent ARMS conference, and our Deputy Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor Brigid Heywood, took the opportunity to reflect on the year so far and provide her insight into the important role we play and share some of our achievements and challenges. We also heard about the research administrator journey of one of our colleagues, Dr Che O’May. Che provided an insightful look into his journey transferring from research to research administration, some of the challenges and rewards a research manager experiences, and his key tip of ‘teamwork’ was appreciated by all. We thoroughly enjoyed the chance to catch-up and celebrate our role as research administrators.


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The University of Melbourne

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More than 200 research management professionals at the University of Melbourne and its partners came together to celebrate and acknowledge our profession. Executive Director Research, Innovation and Commercialisation, Ken Jefferd, launched the inaugural University of Melbourne Research Administrator Day symposium. Titled “Transformations in research administration”, attendees came from across the University including those working in libraries, graduate research, performance and strategy, ethics and integrity, finance, procurement, legal services, business development, research communications, collaboration and funding. Speakers ranged from senior leaders to new research management professionals all talking about transformative moments they had seen or been part of as research administrators.

An enthusiastic audience participated in networking activities aimed to encourage them to reach beyond their usual sphere of colleagues. They also participated in online polling on various important questions, such as “what is your favourite thing about being a research administrator?” and “to keep me going when I am working incredibly hard, my snack of choice is…”

A lively session from one half of the Research Whisperer, Jonathan O’Donnell from RMIT University, encouraged the group to think about ways they could actively transform their working lives for the better. This was followed by outstanding short presentations from some who have already done so, talking about transformative projects they were involved in from around the University. These were delivered using ten slides timed to transition every twenty seconds, making for dynamic delivery that transformed the way we think about communicating our ideas!

An insightful short video featuring researchers from around the University reaffirmed how important they think we are in supporting their work. The video included researcher responses to the question “what research administrative task do you least enjoy”, which drew some laughter from the audience. Several attendees have since asked if they could share the video with other teams in the University, to inform planning and consultation for large scale transformational projects supporting research.

Feedback on the day was overwhelmingly positive, with unanimous support for making this an annual event in celebration of the research management profession and all we do to support our researchers to do their best work.






Griffith University

Griffith University staff and ARMS QLD Chapter members celebrated with drinks, nibbles and networking on Research Administrator Day. The photo on the right with all the happy faces was taken on the night at The Ship Inn. 

We had a swell night out and shared a lot of expertise amongst the group.



Otago University

Members from Otago University celebrated the day in Tasmania following the ARMS 2018 Conference in Hobart.

Our celebrations were low key – we celebrated with beautiful chocolates from Coal River Farm, purchased during the recent ARMS Conference in Hobart.

My thanks to the organisers of ARMS and the opportunity to visit Coal River Farm and the Grote Reber Museum – they were both very different and very interesting.


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