Guest Blogger: Australia & The USA: So Far, Yet So Close? (Part Three)

[As part of our efforts to interact with Research Administration personnel across the world, BloggingORA will occasionally feature posts written by colleagues at other institutions.  Today’s Guest Bloggers are our first authors to hail from outside of the United States, specifically Australia: Julie Ward, from The University of New South Wales; Bryony Wakefield, from The University of Melbourne; and Sue O’Brien, from The University of Queensland.]

In case you missed them, check out Part One and Part Two.









Julie attended NCURA as a representative of NCURA’s sister society in Australia called the Australasian Research Management Society (ARMS). Julie has been an active member of ARMS for over 5 years and was the Convenor of the ARMS national conference in 2011. Julie’s attendance at NCURA was two-fold.  First, it was focused on understanding the finer details of NCURA in terms of their professional development, publications, conference management and member marketing initiatives and reporting this back to ARMS. Secondly, it was to learn further knowledge about the US research management system and take this knowledge back to her workplace at the University of New South Wales. Attending NCURA was extremely insightful and was a great career opportunity that she hopes can be reciprocated with more NCURA members attending the national ARMS conference in Australia.

Sue originally started life as a research scientist but saw the light and moved into a career in research administration. Having spent 5.5 years as a grant-maker managing the National Research Program of the charity the Leukaemia Foundation of Australia, she moved into the university sector two years ago when she commenced at the University of Queensland. As Manager of the Sponsored Research (Health and Biomedical Initiatives) team in the central research administration of the University of Queensland, NCURA was a brilliant opportunity to learn as much as possible about the NIH. It was excellent to attend sessions where other ‘foreign’ institutions shared their experience of administering NIH grants, in particular the new FCOI regulations. The post-conference NIH workshop was a terrific way to get a very practical overview of how the NIH works from application to post award, and she would highly recommend this to anyone embarking on NIH programs in their institution. The University of Queensland has had small but steady success in both lead and sub-award grants from the NIH, but, as a result of NCURA, Sue is now working with her team to present seminars across campus to educate researchers in the mysteries of the NIH system and to encourage more collaborations with US institutions to improve success rates for future applications.

Bryony, having attending the 50th NCURA annual meeting in 2008 when then working at the Australian National University, was eager to attend the meeting, focusing on the Senior Management and International sessions. Bryony’s attendance was part of a Cornelius Regan Trust Award and followed her visits to University of British Columbia (UBC), University of Washington in St Louis, and Vanderbilt University to examine university research strategy and best practices in research administration, particularly in medical and health research. NCURA provided a wonderful opportunity to catch up with people she met at these institutions and further discuss common issues; it also got her hooked on NCURA’s You Tube Tuesday.

To wrap up, sometimes we may use different words but we still speak the same language. For example, the term ‘Faculty’ in America refers to academic staff but in Australia it refers to a discipline, i.e. “There are 600 researchers in the Faculty of Medicine”. We have Chief Investigators, you have Principal Investigators. You have sub-awards and we have sub-contracts. This can be confusing in conversation but we get there eventually!