Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Passing on the Public Trust: A Case Study in Research Administration Education

Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Passing on the Public Trust: A Case Study in Research Administration Education

Article excerpt


In the course of contemporary research history, research administration has emerged as a senior level executive activity providing ethical, regulatory, legal, and administrative leadership for sponsors, institutions, investigators, and staff To promote research administration as an executive career pathway, the Office of Research Administration (ORA) at the Naval Medical Research Center created and sponsored a de novo curriculum in research administration and research ethics to educate young scholars in the philosophical, legal, and sociological values and principles that under-gird the responsible conduct of research. This program is an important new pathway for promoting research administration as a senior level professional career. It is under continual development and refinement for secondary school students and undergraduates.


The purpose of this paper is to present in summary form the Research Administration Curriculum developed by the Office of Research Administration (ORA), Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), for the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program (SEAP) of The George Washington University.

The paper will begin with a brief summary of the historical foundation of the Office of Research Administration (ORA) and consideration of the Science and Engineering Apprentice Program's (SEAP) historical parameters that provided the collaborative context in which this unique curriculum was able to evolve. The paper will then reflect upon the fundamental paradigm, characteristics, and structure of the curriculum itself as it was first conceived and as it continues to develop. A final section will provide a closing consideration upon the necessity, growth, and development of programs of enrichment for future generations of research administrators.

Ultimately, this paper and the curriculum it summarizes are predicated upon a particular perspective on the nature of education itself. Far beyond the mere rote learning of facts and figures, beyond the acquisition of skills however complex, education is essentially an act of leadership. Through personal example, through instruction, through experience, and through that critical form of reflection which scholars call praxis, students are invited to be led out of darkness and into successive spaces and temporalities of enlightenment and responsibility in the hope of real freedom, greater moral development, and that most ultimate of gifts, wisdom. None of these can be achieved or entered into lightly or quickly. They take time, maturation, and ripening. Education is as much about the experience of formation as it is about learning information. The eight-week summer research administration curriculum described in this case study is one attempt to shape and form future generations of truly informed research administrators. However, this unique curriculum is perhaps symbolic of the maturing identity and appreciation of research administration as a professional service.

Research Administration Functions

Until FY1993, NMRC research administration needs were served by the Office of the Scientific Director. The emphasis was on scientific program development, the review and critique of project-specific experimental designs, and the evaluation of scientific progress especially in relationship to the requirements of higher authorities. Experimenting with a wide variety of management models, the Office of the Scientific Director was succeeded by the Office of the Scientific Administrator. This movement was made in the light of initiatives to delegate scientific direction to subject area expert leaders in the organization while maintaining for central institutional authorities a coordinating finction for sponsor relations, support for particular research program areas such as animal or human use, and coordination of other special programs on an ad hoc or emergent basis. Neither the Office of the Scientific Director nor the Office of the Scientific Administrator were configured precisely as research administration subject area experts for the needs of the research community. …

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