Strengthening Research Management in African Universities

Status: Completed project

Duration: 2007-2008

Project lead: Society of Research Administrators International, USA

Project partners: The Association of Commonwealth Universities, United Kingdom

Funder: Carnegie Corporation of New York

Project award: USD 105,463

Summary: This one-year project was an initiative to strengthen research management in 13 African universities. The cohort of institutions included five Carnegie partner universities, four MacArthur Foundation partner universities, and four ACU member universities. The main feature of this project was the benchmarking exercises which were run alongside other relevant research management events, thus introducing opportunities for the project participants to share expertise.

At these benchmarking exercises, delegates discussed best practice in a range of areas from finding funding sources and proposal preparation, through ethics and responsible conduct of research, to technology transfer and diffusion of research results. They also compared varying institutional models on structuring for research management, and levels of progress.

The exercise showed that there was increased interest in research management both on the part of the academics and the institutions as a whole. It also was felt however, that research management was being held back by as yet underdeveloped structures a lack of resources and inexperienced staff. 

Outcomes: The project provided participants with an opportunity to articulate and agree their needs for and identify what the stage of development should be. The project identified and established a network of specialists and focus areas for development, within each institution, in key areas in research management.

This project was followed by a similar project called Developing Research Management Structures in African Universities, which focused on developing structures within five of the 13 focus universites.

OutputsA workshop on the Carnegie Programme to Strengthen Research Management Structures in African Universities was held from 11-12 May 2007 at the North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, following a benchmarking survey conducted by the ACU. All the participating universities participated in the initial benchmarking survey. The survey was intended to assess the level of research management activity and to develop a future programme of action. The report unpacks the content exchanged in each of these sessions based on a process of having two or three short introductory presentations on the topic, considering some discussion points to narrow down the discussions, and summarising the outcomes on the particular topic in terms of a qualitative discussion or a graphical model.