It seems like a world away since I braved the blustery walk to the Liverpool ACC to take refuge in the wonderful and whimsical world of Research Management and Administration. I thoroughly enjoyed the ARMA Conference 2017, with it’s thought provoking plenaries, interactive workshops, and splendid Gala dinner offering an informal chance to reunite with friends and make new ones from far and wide. Meeting fellow RMAs and having the opportunity to share experiences, tales of similar situations, and accumulating tried and tested tools to store in my mental mind shed of research remedies, is one of my favourite parts of the Conference. This year it was even more special because I had a chance to present my poster on Cardiff University’s School of Medicine pre-award peer review process the College of Experts, and much to my delight I won the Conference Director’s prize!
Back in beautiful Wales I couldn’t help but reminisce over creative conversations had, flashbacks of an axe being presented to Jo Edwards, and some crazy shapes being thrown on the dance floor. I also took part in an ARMA Conference review session in which delegates from Cardiff University gave a brief overview of the sessions we attended to colleagues who couldn’t make it this year. The electronic School newsletter ‘Pulse’ also ran an article on my poster Award. This led to colleagues contacting me from different Schools who run similar review processes. We plan to share best practise and explore forming partnerships to review research applications that may require dual or multi-disciplinary review. Even something as basic as knowing if your counterpart exists in other Schools and who they are, is useful to see where gaps exist and how we can bridge them. Now more than ever is a time to focus on internal collaboration, forming useful networks to pool together resources, effort, and ideas.
I hope to build on these relationships and concepts to expand the College of Experts Pool of expertise recruiting more specialist reviewers and adapting the process in line with new challenge-led calls. Public led review from patients who have participated in trials, training available for peer reviewers, and reward and recognition schemes for reviewers are areas that I am interested in exploring in the future. The Research Office Team and I are planning on contributing to a series of roadshows in the School of Medicine. This will give us an opportunity to further publicise the College of Experts and to have a chat with researchers face to face answering any questions that arise. To top it off we are moving offices and I am moving house so it’s all change, pretty much like the HE Landscape! Whilst there are several exciting developments on the horizon I need to remember that even though the world is rotating at roughly 1000 miles per hour, there is still solid ground beneath my feet!