The DARMA blog offers an opportunity to share your thoughts or start a discussion on any topic relevant to Research Administration and Research Management.

The blog is open for everyone to read. However, you must be logged in to write new posts and comment on existing posts. This is a forum for DARMA members and affiliates to share knowledge with peers.

You are welcome to systematise and sharpen your reflections on your recent conference participation, discuss your learning of a workshop, start a debate about our profession, share tips and tricks on best-practice etc.

If you have a suggestion for something that should be covered or someone who should be invited to contribute, please contact the DARMA Secretariat.

  • 08 Feb 2018 10:35 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    One week into my new job at Lund University, and the chaos that has reigned over the past two months is slowly turning into a more manageable situation. Below, I very briefly describe first impressions from Lund, but first some DARMA business:

    • Today is the last day for EARMA’s early-bird registration for the Annual Conference, so if you are planning on going to Brussels, it is a very good idea to register today; the savings are substantial. 
    •  EARMA is also organizing an event in Brussles on 9 March to launch an EARMA Thematic Group on ethics in collaboration with the Ethics and Research Integrity Sector of DG RTD (ERIS). Read more about the event here…
    • DARMA recently announced a meeting facilitation workshop to be held at CBS on 24 April. The workshop is offered by Brain2Business and has been specially designed for DARMA’s members. Check it out and register at DARMA.dk…
    • The program for DARMA’s Annual Meeting, 17–18 May in Nyborg, is almost completed, and we will open for registration as soon as possible. The theme of the meeting is “Research Impact”, and it is also 10 years since DARMA’s constituting general assembly.

    Since I have changed jobs and now work in Sweden, this will be my last Annual Meeting as the Association’s chair, and I hope to see as many of you in Nyborg as possible!

    There has been a couple of events in DARMA recently, the impact workshop at DTU on January 29th had an attendance of 93, which I think is very impressive. DARMA’s Special Interest Group for Staff Management in Research Support (erfa-gruppe for personaleledelse) met earlier this week (if you are a staff manager/ have “personaleansvar” and would like to join the group, please let me know). More about these meetings will follow, but I would like to remind you that organizing a Westensee Workshop is a really good way to become involved with DARMA. Starting a Special Interest Group is also a good way to take initiative in a topic that you are interested in. You may choose any level of ambition you prefer, and you will never commit to more than you think is reasonable.

    To end this blog, let me tell you a little bit about what it’s like to change job AND country. I have worked in Sweden before, so it’s not really new to me, but it’s been nine years and much has changed. An observation that I can’t help to make is that although exactly 300 years younger than Lund University, SDU is a good deal more traditional and hierarchical in its mode of operation. I don't mean to put any value in this, but the difference is striking.

    Lund University is a huge, sprawling organization that is in the middle of many significant changes that affects Research Services, among them the simultaneous expiration of a large number of centers of excellence, and the establishment of the European Spallation Source. Other interesting challenges are new requirements regarding scientific misconduct and research ethics that are the responsibility of Research Services, and the “impact” discussion in all its forms and interpretations is very present. Finally, collaboration with Denmark is going to be one of my responsibilities, wonder why...?

    In coming blogs, I will continue to give my impressions, as I become more settled in.

  • 30 Nov 2017 23:20 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    Where did November go? Did anybody see it? I was supposed to write a blog in November…

    Maybe the reason time flies by is that this past month has been so eventful. During this very last hour of the month, let me get a couple of things off my chest:

    First, and to my great pleasure, DARMA is happy to support the next Westensee Workshop entitled the “Impact Canvas Workshop” which is organized by, and at, DTU on January 29th. The Impact Canvas was presented at EARMA’s Annual Conference in Malta earlier this year by DARMA’s long-time friend, Dr. Jörg Langwaldt of Tampere University in Finland. Read more about the workshop, and sign up before January 15th, 2018 (but why wait so long..?).

    Second, DARMA has established a LinkedIn group, to promote the association and provide an additional channel of communication for matters relevant to the association. Check it out and please join: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12067709

    Third, the INORMS 2018 Conference will be held in Edinburgh, still in the UK, on 4–7 June 2018 as joint conference between INORMS and our British sister association, ARMA. It is certainly going to be a spectacular event, and I would encourage all DARMA members to consider attending – and even better, contribute! DARMA’s board will submit an abstract, building on our presentation from the EARMA AC in Malta, and we hope to see many more Danish contributions. The deadline for abstracts is January 15th, 2018, and the abstract submission page can be accessed here…

    If your abstract is accepted – to any conference – don’t forget to apply for a DARMA travel fellowship!

    Fourth, in October I attended the SRA International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, and the INORMS Steering Group meeting. The conference was spectacular, as always, with a plethora of interesting, relevant, and thought-provoking presentations. One that received much – and well-deserved – praise was by Tina Lewis of Copenhagen University, with the title “LEAN Activities in a Research Administration - Results No One Expected”. Very well done, Tina!

    The second session that made a lasting impression was by Kathy Grzech of the University of Kentucky in, well, Kentucky. The topic was “Revisiting Rigor and Reproducibility in Grant Applications” to the NIH. I would recommend that you note this term, rigor and reproducibility, because I have a feeling that this may be the next big thing to hit the world of research administration, after the impact wave.

    In brief, rigor and reproducibility are new evaluation criteria, introduced last year by the NIH to address serious problems with the reproducibility in an unacceptably large number of research projects. NIH’s Director is cited in the presentation: 

    “Exacerbating this situation [problems with reproducibility] are the policies and attitudes of funding agencies, academic centres and scientific publishers. Funding agencies often uncritically encourage the overvaluation of research published in high‐profile journals. Some academic centres [...] provide incentives for publication in such journals, including promotion and tenure, and in extreme cases, cash rewards.”

    Why is this so interesting? Well, the widespread practice of encouraging publication in high-profile journals – which is basically written into law in this country – is now identified as a problem by the world’s largest research funder. It is turning everything upside down.

    I found this presentation so interesting that I contacted Kathy and got permission to put her slides on DARMA’s website, accessible to DARMA members. You can access the PDF file here and read the entire presentation yourself. The challenges are outlined in slides 4–15, but the entire presentation is well worth reading.

    Fifth, DARMA’s board is busy preparing DARMA’s Annual Meeting 2018, which also marks the 10th anniversary of the Association. We hope to be able to offer an Annual Meeting that is something more than usual, so clear your calendars for 17–18 May 2018. I really would like to see as many as possible of you in Nyborg!

    Sixth and last, on February 1st I will take up the position as head of Research Services at Lund University in Sweden, and I will thus be leaving my job at SDU. Since my wife is happy with her job at SDU, and we have a very good living in Odense, we will remain here, and I will commute a couple of times per week to Lund. I will also remain as Chair of DARMA until the Annual Meeting, but will not stand for re-election, for obvious reasons. 

    I made it! There are still a few minutes left of November, so I can call this the "November DARMA Update"... ;-)

    Take care out there, and enjoy the pleasures and dangers of “julefrokost”! I know that I will...

  • 06 Oct 2017 10:02 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    "Winther is coming" says an ad for a coffee shop (Winthers Kaffe) in central Odense that I pass on my way to work every day, and the chilly season is indeed upon us. That means work, but also many interesting things happening with DARMA. I would like to briefly write about four offerings available to DARMA members right now:

    1. The Westensee workshop on impact in Odense next week with Julie Bayley of Coventry University. You can read more about it on the event page, and in Hanne Dahl Mortensen's blog post. If you wish to participate and get something to eat, please sign up today (Friday, October 6th)!

    2. Materials from the DARMA-SFU workshop on grant applications that took place on 11 September 2017 are now available for reading and download on the workshop page (DARMA members only, login required). The workshop was a collaboration between Styrelsen for Forskning og Uddannelse and DARMA and participation was limited for practical reasons. We would like to follow up on the themes at the workshop by e.g. organizing follow-up events. Please tell us what you think either by commenting below or send me an e-mail.

    3. NCURA Magazine's August 2017 issue on the topic "The Magic of Metrics" has kindly been made available by NCURA exclusively to DARMA's members, and can be downloaded as a PDF file from this page. I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did. My intention is to make similar deals with other organizations. NCURA Magazine is a natural first try, since I was Global Contributing Editor 2013-15. NCURA is one of the world's biggest RMA associations and in my opinion, every research manager should attend at least one NCURA conference in their life.

    4. There is only one single place left for DARMA's intro course for research administrators, so if you wish to participate, don't wait!

    As always, there are many interesting job ads on DARMA.dk, currently 5 positions at CBS, Region Hovedstaden, DTU and UC Nordjylland.

    Don't forget to submit sessions to EARMA's 2018 Annual Conference in Brussels; the deadline for submissions is 15 October 2017!

    Next week, I will be going to SRA International's Annual Conference in Vancouver, Canada and the FtoF meeting of INORMS Board. You may follow my doings in Canada on Twitter, and I will of course write here, too.

    Finally, I have been invited to present DARMA at DFF in a couple of weeks, and we plan to organize a DARMA visit to the new DFF office in Odense, as soon as DFF has found its place after reorganization, name change and relocation.

  • 18 Sep 2017 22:37 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    Jeg var ikke et sekund i tvivl om at jeg gerne ville rejse ud da der pludselig blev åbnet for at de administrative medarbejdere på SDU kunne søge ERASMUS midler. På det tidspunkt havde jeg været ansat som forsknings administrator i 15 år på SDU, og på den baggrund følte jeg mig klar.

    Mit eneste problem var, hvor jeg skulle søge om at komme hen – men til det jeg fik hjælp af Olaf Svenningsen, som introducerede mig til The Metric Tide, forfattet af Simon Kerridge fra Kent University i Kent, Storbritannien.

    Erasmus handler om at dele, og da jeg har været med til at udvikle ansøgningsdatabasen kaldet SDUpro på SDU, så ville mit bidrag i Kent være at fortælle om databasen i dag og om hvordan jeg anvender den til udtræk og statistikker. Spørgsmålet var så hvad jeg kunne bringe med hjem?

    Vi aftalte at besøget kunne finde sted fra den 15. maj til og med den 19. maj 2017, og med besøget stadig i frisk erindring, må jeg blot sige, at det har været en helt igennem fantastisk tur med hovedvægten lagt på IMPACT i forskning.

    Der var på forhånd lagt et program ved Kent University, som dækkede hele deres forskningsenhed – meget veltilrettelagt – men som også meget let kunne tage pusten fra enhver. De havde alle tænkt over, hvad de ville fortælle mig og forberedt slides, som jeg efterfølgende fik tilsendt.

    Impact fylder ikke lige så meget i Danmark som i Storbritannien endnu, men begrebet er jo stille og roligt ved at snige sig ind i både forskningsråd og de private fonde.

    Så da jeg fik muligheden for at deltage i en workshop om Impact på Kent University, slog jeg til.

    Titlen på workshoppen var ”Maximise your Research Impact”. Der deltog ca. 100 forskere fra Kent, og workshoppen var bygget op, så der først var præsentation fra 3 forskere, som alle havde brudt gennem den akademiske mur – dernæst parallelle sessioner mellem Mark Reed og Julie Bayley. Sidstnævnte havde jeg også en private session med, hvor jeg præsenterede en forsker her fra NAT på SDU. Meget hurtig tegnede hun en tegning til mig, som viste os (som værende på universiteterne) og dem (de andre på den anden side af den akademiske mur), hvordan forskeren kunne generere Impact ved at identificere sine interessenter. Julie Bayley er inviteret til Danmark sidst medio oktober, hvor jeg sammen med DARMA arrangerer en Westensee workshop sammen med kollegaer her fra SDU.

    Jeg har haft en fantastisk tur. Turen var veltilrettelagt og jeg fik kun en enkelt eftermiddag for mig selv. Jeg skylder en stor tak til Phil Ward, som tog mig i hånden fra første dag. Han fulgte mig rundt på universitetet og han svarede på alle mine spørgsmål med et stort smil på læben (ikke at jeg taler dårligt engelsk), men han fik viklet et "wonderful" eller "excellent" ind i alle svar Jeg har deltaget i et comedy-show, været ude at spise med hele forskerstøtteenheden samt været privat ”dinner guest” hos Simon Kerridge (hvilket inkluderede 2 meget store hunde).

    Jeg kan kun opfordre alle til at tage en tur ud for at besøge en anden forskerstøtteenhed – det er en meget givende og en meget stor oplevelse, som jeg med glæde deler med jer andre.

    Hanne Dahl Mortensen, Support Office Science, Det Naturvidenskabelige Fakultet, SDU

  • 19 May 2017 12:21 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    Today it is two weeks since DARMA’s Annual Meeting 2017 concluded in Nyborg. I have spent most of the time since then on vacation in Napoli, Italy, enjoying other pleasures than research management and administration; sunshine and good food.

    This was the second year that DARMA used the venue in Nyborg for its Annual Meeting and the third time with the lunch-to-lunch format. All presentations from the meeting are available online at the conference page.

    Almost half of the Annual Meeting delegates have evaluated the meeting, and at present – the evaluation is still not closed – ratings are on average very good to excellent. Input from the members is very important, so if you did attend the meeting, but still have not submitted your evaluation, you can do so until the end of this month. 

    It is the Board’s intention to optimize networking opportunities and provide a varied and engaging program. For example, the Funders’ Forum and Hot Topic discussions seems to be working well, and will be repeated next year.

    DARMA's Annual Meeting 2018 will be on 17-18 May 2018 at Hotel Sinatur Store Bælt in Nyborg, so you can reserve the date in your calendar already now! It is DARMA's 10th anniversary, and you don't want to miss it!

    Immediately before the Annual Meeting, DARMA’s General Assembly was held, where the main item was the election of new board members. Karam Sidaros is stepping down as Treasurer of the Association – he has done a tremendous job and I cannot express how much I appreciate his effort – and Marianne Gauffriau was elected as DARMA’s new treasurer. Marianne has been on the board for two years, and a better choice could hardly have been made.

    Two or three new board members were also elected: Jane Tymm-Andersen of Aalborg University and Nicolaj Toft Brenneche of Copenhagen University are new in the board, and Stine Wendelboe Bjorholm is sort of new. You see, Stine was on the board, but changed jobs in 2016 and stepped down from the board, but found out that research support is the better career path and came back, ran for a second term on DARMA’s board and was elected. All three will soon be presented in more detail to the members.

    As always, DARMA members showed a strong presence at the EARMA Annual Conference in Valletta, Malta at the end of April. John Donovan stepped down as Chair, and the Treasurer, Sharon Bailey was elected new Chair of EARMA. I know Sharon very well, and EARMA has made an excellent choice. Sharon will be assisted by EARMA’s new Managing Director, Nik Claesen, and EARMA can definitely look forward to very interesting developments in the coming years.

    Á propos EARMA:

    First, EARMA has written a “postcard” on the future of European research together with a number of other organizations. This postcard text is cited on DARMA’s web pages too; if you agree (and personally, I find it hard to disagree), please feel free to share the postcard text in your own networks.

    Second, remember that EARMA has an instrument named Open Lecture Access Forums, or OLAF. An OLAF makes it possible to invite a presenter at an EARMA event to come and repeat the presentation – possibly an extended version – at your institution. OLAF’s have been held in many countries – Spain, Italy, Iceland, Ireland and even the US – but never in Denmark. Check out the OLAF page at EARMA’s web and think about if you shouldn't organize an OLAF...

    Finally, I want to point out that DARMA’s job ads can be shared on social media; check out the buttons/links in the upper left margin of each job ad. I write this because SDU recently added three job ads, and I shared them, resulting in well over 600 separate views from 15 countries in last three days.! The second reason I write this is that almost nobody is using this option. If you want to promote a job or help your institution attract the best applicants, you may wish to consider using this very simple way to get much, much more exposure.

    So there. Now I will go to my office's spring party, and enjoy the first summer-like weekend this year. I hope I will not regret writing this about the weather, and wish all of DARMA’s members a very pleasant weekend!


  • 23 Apr 2017 08:14 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    Early Sunday morning: After a short, brisk walk through a sunny, but ice-cold Odense, I am now on my way to the EARMA Conference in Malta. The past weeks – or months – have been very busy both at work and in the private life, for both good and bad reasons. One example of how things sometimes get an unexpected twist is what happened last Friday before Easter: 

    In the afternoon, I was in a telemeeting with the governing body of INORMS, the Council. The main task for that meeting was to decide where the INORMS Conference should be held in 2020. Two competing bids had been submitted, one from the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) together with the South African and the Brazilian associations, and one from the Research Manager and Administrator Network – Japan (RMAN-J). ACU suggested that the conference should be held in Cape Town, South Africa, and RMAN-J’s bid was for Hiroshima in Japan.

    Just as we were discussing the two bids, Facebook messages saying, “I’m safe” started popping up on my screen, all of them from friends in Stockholm. At first I had no idea what was going on, but quickly realized there had been a terrorist attack in central Stockholm. In very few minutes, it also became clear that my cousin Martin, and several other friends were at the scene. Martin, who works as a TV and radio reporter had seen the attack from a bus, jumped of, and ran towards the crashed truck, but stopping to do CPR on several victims on the way. You may have seen him on TV.

    Back to the INORMS meeting, which became a bit difficult to focus on: After a vote, Hiroshima won the competition, so after Edinburgh next year, INORMS goes to Japan for the first time. Hiroshima won with a narrow margin of votes, 8 to 6, which surprised me, since INORMS was held in Cape Town in 2010, and has never been in Asia. RMAN-J is also a young association, just like DARMA was in 2012, so I am very satisfied with the outcome of the vote.

    As I am heading to the Malta, I would like to point out that EARMA has an instrument, the Open Lecture Access Forum or OLAF (I invented the instrument, but not the name), which offers a possibility to invite presenters from EARMA conferences, and other events, to repeat the session locally, and EARMA pays.  I am very happy that OLAF is becoming very popular, and the latest OLAF was held just a few weeks ago in Bologna, with Sean McCarthy. There has not been any OLAF’s in Denmark, yet.

    DARMA’s General Assembly is quickly approaching, and as no suggestions have been received, the agenda that was published on March 15th remains unchanged. The biggest issue, as I see it, is to elect a new board. There has not exactly been a surge of interest, so I will repeat that we urgently need capable people that are interested in extending their network and experience, and do important work for our profession.

    There are numerous tasks ahead of us in the coming year: the website always needs attention and a loving hand, the association urgently needs a strategy and plan of action, a blog and news editor would fill an important role, the special interest groups would probably benefit from having a coordinator, someone working with membership might be valuable, we do of course need a treasurer, and 2018 marks DARMA’s 10th birthday, which should be celebrated. If you think that any of these issues would be interesting, or if you have ideas of your own, I think you should consider running for a seat on the Board. Remember that you can run in absentia; it is not necessary to attend the General Assembly.

    So, the train is soon arriving in Copenhagen. I will report from the EARMA Conference using Twitter, so if you want to follow what is happening, that is the way.

    Hope to see you in Nyborg in two weeks!



  • 23 Mar 2017 09:55 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    Et nyligt jobskifte gjorde det desværre nødvendigt for mig at stoppe i DARMA’s bestyrelse før tid. Ganske vist er det stadig i forskningsadministration (så I slipper ikke helt for mig), men der er nye fagområder at sætte sig ind i og nye opgaver, så der er ikke rigtig tid og overskud til at lægge den nødvendige tid i bestyrelsesarbejdet.

    Og det var en hård beslutning – for det har været tre gode år.

    Jeg havde nok ikke troet, at det ville bidrage så meget til min faglighed at sidde i bestyrelsen. Det lyder måske lidt fjollet, når det nu er en faglig bestyrelse, men nogle gange er bestyrelsesarbejde mere organisatorisk end fagligt. Det er det selvfølgelig også indimellem i DARMA bestyrelsen, men diskussionerne om nye arrangementer, strukturer etc. bliver også til en slags metarefleksion over eget arbejde og professionens udvikling. Og nogle gange bliver det også en diskussion om udviklingsbehovene for ledere og medarbejdere. De diskussioner glemmer vi let i hverdagen – og de er især svære at få på tværs af institutioner.

    Så vær med til at arrangere Bruxelles turen, så du kan præge programmet; sid med behandlingen af rejsestipendierne, så du hører om alle de spændende ting kollegerne rundt omkring arbejder med, og kast dine kræfter ind i udviklingen af DARMA’s strategi og professionens udvikling.

    Der er selvfølgelig det helt banale, at man får et stort netværk. Engang imellem bliver netværk et mål i sig selv, hvilket er lidt noget pjat. Her er det et reelt netværk, fordi man mødes mange gange og samarbejder om ting, griner af ting og om ikke skændes om ting, så i hvert fald diskuterer dem. Man er i tvivl sammen og frustrerede sammen.

    Det gør også bestyrelsen til et fortroligt forum, hvor man kan tage faglige spørgsmål op eller vende udviklingen på egen institution med andre. Igen en privilegeret mulighed, som ikke byder sig til mange andre steder.

    Jeg kan kun anbefale at man prøver kræfter med en tur i DARMA’s bestyrelse. Og selvom man er i starten af sin karriere, så gør det endelig. Det er sundt både for dig og for bestyrelsen. Og gerne nogen uden for København, så vi bliver bredt geografisk repræsenteret – og gerne nogen, som ikke er ledere. Jo bredere bestyrelsen er – jo bedre bliver det.

    Så hvem end der får ”min” plads – så held og lykke – og nyd det! Det tager noget mere end Faktas fem minutter. Men det er det værd.

  • 03 Mar 2017 12:32 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    After two months, the year 2017 begins to settle in, but what a start for a year! I never expected to live in a “post-factual” world, and I honestly think that this expression is as stupid as it is worrying. Working with science and research is the antithesis of “alternative facts”, and the political developments pose threats to our community, too. One small indication of what may come happened the other week. A researcher received a sub-award to a US Federal grant, and for the first time, the foreign component – i.e. the Danish sub-award – will be vetted by the State Dept. after the award decision was made by the funding agency. Trans-Atlantic research collaboration may be entering rough waters.

    Meanwhile, DARMA is preparing for what will hopefully be one of our most active years. The study trip to Copenhagen was just held, and next week, DARMA goes to Munich. The Annual Meeting is coming up – please reserve 4–5th May if you haven’t already. The Board is finalizing the program and hope to publish it and open up for registration next week. We have been trying to realize a suggestion from the members from last year’s annual meeting, but it turns out to be tricky, and takes a lot of time. I had of course hoped to be able to publish the program earlier, but will do so next week.

    The 2017 Annual Meeting will follow the same format as last year, but hopefully be even better, so make sure that you can attend. It will be great, as The Donald would put it.

    On the downside for the Association, two of DARMA’s board members, Stine Bjorholm, and Jakob Feldtfos Christensen have changed jobs, and decided to step down from the Board. Both Stine and Jakob have made significant contributions to the Association, and I would like to extend my sincere and warm thanks for their work, and wish them all the best in their new jobs. We will sorely miss them as board members, but they will still be there as friends.

    This means that there are vacancies in the Board that need to be filled. DARMA is a volunteer organization and very dependent on a dedicated and active board. Being on the board of DARMA has many benefits, and I strongly encourage any member who is interested in extending your network, get involved in exciting activities that promote and develop our profession, and shape the future of the Association, to run for the Board. In addition to the two vacancies, DARMA’s Treasurer, Karam, has reached the end of this term, and is not running for re-election, so we are looking for a new Treasurer, too.

    If you are interested in running for the board, please contact me or any of the board members. We will also write blog posts about being on the board up until the Annual Meeting.

    So I really hope to meet as many of you as possible in Nyborg on 4-5th May, and to welcome several new people to the Board!

  • 09 Dec 2016 14:07 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    A week has passed since the NUAS workshop How to Measure the Value and Quality of Research and Innovation Services in Reykjavik ended. For me, it has been very intense and busy days with a.o. the DARMA-Innovation Fund Denmark workshop, which I will write about in another blog.

    One very important piece of information is that the follow-up NUAS workshop on this theme will be held in Göteborg, Sweden, on 31 August and 1 September 2017. DARMA will organize a Danish workshop for members on this theme during the first half of 2017; details will follow as soon as possible.

    On Day 2 of the NUAS workshop, the results from the previous day’s group efforts was collected and discussed in a plenary session. I have not yet received the presentations from the organizers, and thus only have my own (bad, 1 and 2 are worse than bad, but...) photos of some of the slides, which will have to do for the moment. Please feel free to comment or add to the discussion in the comment field below or directly to me.


    The presentations followed the structure of the working groups, starting with Pre-award theme 1 (internal resources and costs). This group discussed the mission (slide 1), which tools could be used (slide 2), made some remarks on the size of the team (slide 3), and finally suggested some possible metrics (slide 4), which focused on what was not done.

    Pre-award theme 2 (the perspective of those we support) followed, starting out with a brief overview of tasks in pre-award (slide 5) and the goal of their group work (slide 6). This group came up with a shortlist of suggested KPI’s which included the big theme of the plenary session: customer satisfaction surveys (slide 7).

    Pre-award theme 3 (a broader context) was also the group I participated in. We stated that all evaluations/metrics must include input, process and output, not just one of them (e.g. output as in amount or number of awards), and that quantitative indicators cannot stand alone– qualitative aspects must be included (slide 8). Some examples of possible metrics were presented, among them recruitment of high-potentials (slide 9) and linking researchers (slide 10).

    In the discussion, it was re-emphasized that the input-process-output logic is necessary and that consistent, coherent and reliable data is a prerequisite if comparing between universities is an objective. This brought up that it is crucial to decide to what purpose the metrics are going to be used. If this is not decided beforehand, the risk of creating perverse incentives is considerable.


    Results from the post-award groups were then presented, and I did not catch all the slides, but here are some of the main conclusions:

    • Theme 1 – Impact of processes; what could be worked with (slide 11)
    • Theme 2 (user perspective) – went very much on user satisfaction (slide 12)
    • Theme 3 (broader context) – satisfaction surveys figure again, but also a number of suggested KPI’s (slide 13)
    • Customer satisfaction got its own slide; how-to (slide 14)
    • Start-up meetings was another theme addressed separately (slide 15)


    The plenary session was finished with a presentation from the groups working with innovation. Since innovation and tech-trans is not a core focus of DARMA, I will not summarize that discussion, but all the presentations, including the innovation slides, will be made available on DARMA’s web pages as soon as the association receives them from the NUAS organizers.

  • 01 Dec 2016 18:52 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

    The first day of the NUAS workshop How to Measure the Value and Quality of Research and Innovation Services in Reykjavik just ended. The input from DARMA's members has been extremely useful – thank you to all, please keep the comments coming! It is still too early to make any general conclusions – we have been divided into working groups, and I only know what went down in the one I participated in – but you can follow the day somewhat through my tweets from today. Here is a brief summary of the day:

    First out was Martin Kirk of the University of British Columbia in Canada, who gave an overview of how research administration is benchmarked and evaluated in Canada, which is thoroughly and with a degree of detail that I don't think we will see in Denmark in the near future (maybe not in the far future either...). Martin described the metrics, KPI's etc. and showed results from the "U15 Admin Capacity Benchmarking" (all documents will be made available, also to DARMA's members). 

    Some of my notes include that all benchmarking and assessments absolutely need to be underpinned by reliable, coherent and consistent data, and that the best functioning units tend to be moderately staffed and with very well functioning support systems. Researcher satisfaction surveys are also critical to assessing and developing services. 

    The next speaker was Simon Kerridge from Kent University, well-known to DARMA. Simon presented the British perspective, putting emphasis on the Metric Tide report – the name says a lot. Simon reinforced many of Martin's messages, e.g. that the infrastructure and how data is collected is crucial and needs to be consistent and comparable. Simon concluded that  at present, qualitative assessments (satisfaction surveys) are the best available indicators.

    The third speaker was Koen Verhoef from the Netherlands, who addressed the inherent complexity in measuring and evaluating innovation and knowledge transfer. Many of his points were again similar to the previous speakers, and the statement that the Netherlands are moving from metrics towards more sophisticated impact assessment stuck in my mind.

    After lunch we heard presentations from two researchers on their view of research services, both good and interesting – and recognizable, too. Andrew Telles of Göteborgs universitet introduced the group work by using chocolate cakes to illustrate how something very simple still can be difficult to capture with metrics, the message being that the reasoning behind the metrics is as important, if not more important as the metrics in themselves.

    Then followed a long, intense afternoon of group discussions. I was in the group with the theme: Pre-award, Metrics and KPI for measuring quality and success of pre-award services: University and Society. At this moment, I can't summarize the discussions with any degree of justice, but topics included that we need to use the Snowball Metrics approach, and always capture input, process and output metrics, as just one of those will paint a misleading picture. How to educate your leaders, the university executive, to make well-informed, sensible strategic discussions was another topic, and finally, we concluded that quantitative indicators alone means little, if nothing, if not qualified by qualitative indicators or aspects.

    The discussion continues and wraps up tomorrow, and a summary will be posted here, so stay tuned.

DISCLAIMER: Any opinions expressed here represents only the authors, and not DARMA.

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