Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Voice of Experience: International Research Infrastructure and the Impact of Export Control Regulations

Academic journal article Journal of Research Administration

Voice of Experience: International Research Infrastructure and the Impact of Export Control Regulations

Article excerpt


Research today has become very complex, often involving international collaborations among multidisciplinary teams. Many institutions, especially those in less economically developed countries, have a great deal of expertise to contribute to these collaborations, but often lack the instrumentation, training, and research management infrastructure needed to support their endeavors. While non-profit organizations provide assistance with instrumentation and training to support the research infrastructure, efforts from the United States are hampered by Export Control Regulations. An appropriate balance is needed to develop research collaborations with universities in other countries while protecting United States security interests.


Administrators International (SRA) celebrates its 40th anniversary. Originally founded as a North American organization, with four sections in the United States and one in Canada, SRA has grown into a truly international society. To reflect its growing global membership, SRA added the term "International" to its name in 2000. Members today come from nearly every part of the world (Tablel). As SRA has increased its international membership and diversity of research management interests, it has remained dedicated to its mission of training and career development for research managers and administrators through formal educational offerings, exchange of best practices and continual networking among members.

The face of research, too, has changed over the years. Seldom is research confined to a single team working at one laboratory. As research has become more complex, sub-specialties have developed in scientific disciplines, and special expertise in using complex research procedures and instrumentation is critically important. Not every institution can afford the increasing cost of highly sophisticated instrumentation, such as nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (which can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars, even before maintenance and personnel costs), and funding sources are not able to pay such costs. This has led to the growth of multidisciplinary, collaborative research that is no longer confined to a single laboratory or nation, but involves multiple institutions internationally.

As the complexity and globalization of research have grown, regulations governing research also have become more complex. Institutions in the United States and elsewhere have learned to deal with the regulatory and policy differences attendant with the globalization of research. To meet the needs of universities and other organizations engaged in research, SRA has provided training and professional development opportunities to improve the research management infrastructure of institutions throughout the world.

It has been said that the path to economic and human development in a global knowledge economy is through increased education. Organizations such as the U.S. Civilian Research and Development Foundation (CRDF), the Carnegie Corporation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation support efforts to increase the capacity for higher education and research in Africa, states of the former Soviet Union, and elsewhere. These groups support the research efforts, complex equipment, and the development of research management infrastructure at universities and other organizations needed for international collaborations. Other U.S.-based foundations, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, have invested heavily in developing local solutions to local and global problems through research.

Despite the continued efforts of these groups and others to support research organizations and researchers, United States Export Control Regulations can be a barrier to collaborations between scientists in the U.S. and around the world. Understanding these restrictions is critical if we are to engage in global research. …

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