By Dr Andy Clempson, Senior Research Policy Manager, AMRC

Published: 8 May 2018

Today we’re unveiling our refreshed ‘Research Management: A guide for medical research charities’ - trumpets, fireworks and cannons at the ready! Many of you working in research management may have come across an older version of this that, to be honest, wasn’t ageing well... So we decided to give it a spring clean and a new zest for life. We hope you like it.

A long(ish) time ago…

Back in 2013, we were putting the finishing touches to a whopper of a guidance document called ‘A guide to research management’. Internally referred to as the ‘bible’ for research managers, it contained nearly everything you could ever want to know about undertaking and administering peer review. When I started my career in research management, this would have been a life-saver. It would have saved me hours of head-scratching and let me avoid some pretty embarrassing situations. I’ll openly admit that I quite enjoyed writing it and collating everything rattling around in our heads in one place. We quietly released it in later 2013 thinking only a few hardy souls would stumble across it – and then read it. But we were delighted it went down so well and was really popular (and relieved that we weren’t the only ones that found it interesting).

But time marches on, and as we recently launched our new snazzy website (if you are reading this, well done for navigating the new layout), it’s fair to say that our rather primitive ‘word-to-pdf conversion’ was looking a bit tired. And out of date. And not particularly reflective of the recent trends in research management.

‘Team research’ (Liz, Andy, Suz, Jocelyn and Eva) are not one for settling for second best so we decided to give it a refresh. I somewhat optimistically blocked out an afternoon in my calendar just before Christmas 2017 to “make a few tweaks”.

A bit of an understatement, as five months later, it’s only just ready.

What’s new?

The basic structure is the same, but each chapter has been updated with new case studies and edited to reflect current best practice. Following our 2015 peer review audit, we refreshed the guidance around our principles of peer review to make it more applicable and adaptable to an individual charity’s circumstances. It’s an on-going crusade to constantly keep ahead of the changing nature of research funding and avoid our peer review processes going pear shaped.

The original document pre-dated the audit and the changes we made to our guidance, so we’ve incorporated these and a few new things to bring it up to date:

  • We’ve clarified when written review is necessary and when you might want to reconsider.
  • There’s more about patient involvement in peer review, supplementing our specific guidance on the ‘Patient voice in medical and healthcare research’.
  • We’ve added in a new chapter on collaborations – something we should be doing more of.
  • There’s new information on publishing models such as Open Research Platforms – very exciting news on this soon.
  • Then there’s more about demonstrating impact and tools to measure it. Not an easy one to crack, I’m sure you’ll admit, but we need to get better at it.

So here it is – in all its glory for you to enjoy: Research management: A guide for medical research charities

What’s next?

We’re not sitting on our laurels. There’s plenty still to do to make sure we stay ahead of the curve on peer review and continue to reflect on what’s working well, what isn’t and what we should change. Which opens the door to you – can you tell us:

  • Have you changed the way you are managing peer review? And your broader research portfolio?
  • Can you share any case studies to bring to life what you are doing differently?  You never know, they may feature in the next version of this guide! What more could you ask for?
  • Do you want to be part of my club? I’m looking for similar like-minded, peer review-loving personas to help me think about the future of peer review: if we were to start again with a new system, what would you do differently?

Answers on a postcard please to Andy via [email protected]

But for now, I hope you find this guide useful and that it helps you master research management.