When engaging in international research collaborations for the first time, research administrators may wonder how best to approach and establish the partnership. In an increasingly globalized world it is important to understand how to interact with colleagues located in different countries and from different cultural backgrounds. The National Council for Research Administrators invited James Casey, Assistant VP for the Office of Sponsored Project Administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, to present on ten best practices to employ during international research collaborations. His guidelines have been synthesized here.
Flexibility and the ability to compromise is an essential technique to utilize when partnering with an international group. Project a collaborative demeanor that will encourage regular and open communication.
- Monitor Written Communication
After establishing this open communication, ensure there are ways your office can monitor and track future exchanges. The use of a grant management software system will not only serve as a platform for electronic messages as well as store relevant contact information, it will also provide a central location for all research administrators to access details about the sponsored project.
When emailing with colleagues from international research collaborations be aware of the tone with which you are composing the message. It is important to consider how your attitude is perceived across cultural boundaries.
- Cultural Awareness
The success of international research collaborations is dependent on understanding and accommodating cultural differences. Take the time to get to know your partners, using sensitivity and considering the nuances of your exchanges.
- Engage in Development
In employing cultural awareness, remember that in some places the research administration profession is still developing its foundation. Partnering offices may be new and will require ongoing development. Be supportive to these research communities and work to learn what they need from you.
- Equipment Ingenuity
In supporting the development of the research administration profession, also be aware of the impact the situation may have on available equipment and laboratory facilities. There is an ongoing need for state of the art supplies. Refer to the first best practice and proceed with flexibility.
- Biosecurity Education
To be a more effective research administrator take the time to learn the requirements and process of ensuring biosecurity. Even if it does not fall under the domain of your direct tasks, this knowledge is becoming more and more important.
- Legal Arrangements in International Research Collaborations
Familiarize yourself with the legal tools at your team’s disposal, but do not become too immersed. While a lawyer may have a role in a sponsored project, as a research administrator it is important to ensure they do not over regulate the proceedings. Try to reach a compromise independently and reserve legal arrangements for the most necessary situations.
- Proactive Preparations
The more detailed work your team puts in at the start of international research collaborations, the more smoothly they will run. Be specific when developing the budget, work scope, and contracts. This will allow for greater efficiency which is key, when partnering across different continents.
- Making an Impression
Every time you interact with an international colleague consider it an opportunity to make a fresh impression. Whether the exchange is the first time you have made contact, or the twentieth, treat your ongoing relationship with respect and care.
- Utilize Resources To better prepare your team utilize NCURA’s international resources. The more interconnected our research and partnerships are, the more successful our sponsored projects. For more information on what technology solutions will best benefit your collaboration, contact the IT Works team today.