Look around your research administration office – How did all of your colleagues get there? When you take stock of the research administration field, most people are transplants, and hardly anyone came into this field with a well-rounded knowledge about the entire research administration process. Instead, new hires possessed experience in a handful of the facets of the area (e.g. contract negotiations, budgeting), and learned on the job how to utilize these talents in a university research setting. In an effort to groom future research admin personnel and provide a glimpse into the responsibilities of each office, Johns Hopkins developed the Research Administration Trainee Program, or the RAT Pack.
The training program is a full-time, two year program designed to allow qualified candidates to work in six-month rotations through the various offices involved in Research Administration. This includes rotations through the three major areas of research administration: Academic Departments (working directly with PIs to create proposals); Divisional Research Administration (handling the approval and submission process of proposals); and the Sponsored Projects Shared Services Office (handling post award activities). Each trainee is assigned to one of the four research schools within the University and rotates within departments in that school.
Each trainee also gets a mentor to help them through this process and a supervisor within each area. Together, the mentor and supervisor monitor the trainee’s progress and provide a support system should any questions or concerns arise. In addition to its work within each office, it is expected that, during the two year period, each trainee will take the full complement of courses available at Johns Hopkins that involve research administration. This includes everything from OMB A-21 regulations to Human Subjects, Animal, and Conflict of Interest training.
While the trainee no doubt can feel a bit overwhelmed being presented with so much information in a comparatively short period of time, there is no expectation that he or she will immediately become an expert in all of these fields. Instead, the hope is that the trainee will gain a fundamental working knowledge of all the components of Research Administration, and maybe, just maybe, eventually seek employment in a research admin office that boasts a turtle as its office pet.
If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to peruse the Johns Hopkins University website.