INORMS 2018 – Some initial highlights.

A small(ish!) group of Research Managers, Administrators and other support may be blearily wandering around campus, or replying to emails a little more sluggishly than normal…

I will no doubt return to this topic a few times over the next few weeks, with specific things that we covered at INORMS2018, from responsible research indicators, to personal resiliency, researcher development, implementing research policy and strategy, open access, open data, when is a journal not a journal, integrating research centres, supporting arts & humanities, collaborating in a virtual reality environment, linking persistent identifiers and the importance of coffee… not to mention the pre-award, finance, ethics and other session. Just reading that back makes me realise quite how packed the last few days have been.

Below are a few of my first thoughts from the conference

People

People who work in research support are amazing. Over the past four days I have met so many dedicated, committed people working to support researchers in making the world a better place. From every stage of the research support, from people who have never been to a conference before (what a way to start!) to old hands.

We are often encouraging researchers to work together and it was really exciting to see the strengths of different nations, and the research cultures in various countries, but even more exciting was the willingness to share, plans, procedures, strategies and thoughts, both at the conference level (plenaries, sessions, posters) but also in conversations over lunch and coffee. I look forward to continuing the conversations that we started – and if we didn’t get a chance to meet then do get in touch.

The Constant of Change

One theme that ran throughout the sessions was change. The world is changing, research is changing, expectations are changing, reporting is changing. We need to change too – but thankfully, we are really much better at it than we think we are, especially when we work together.

In her plenary session, Professor Shearer West (Vice Chancellor and President, University of Nottingham) was asked how we respond to changes as research managers and administrators – her reply was to be nimble, shift gear every day, adapt, change and expect uncertainty.

This was reflected in sessions looking the importance of social interaction in an environment of electronic communication, and some very exciting virtual reality collaborative spaces but also in learning to say ‘No’ and in the importance of happiness at work and avoiding ‘Destination addiction’.

The Programme

Putting together a programme, including social activities, that suits 1,100 people from all areas of research support, from all career stages and from many different national contexts is no mean feat, but the organisers did a fabulous job – it was definitely a case of wanting to be in more than one place at a time, rather than struggling to find a relevant session.

The INORMS app

This is a bit of an unfair point for those of you who weren’t there, but seriously, this piece of tech was amazing… floor plans, my agenda, the programme, social media feed, delegate chat… all on my phone. Navigating any conference can be challenging, but one this big with people from over the world increases that dramatically and the app helped overcome so many of the challenges of trying to find people, meet them and the endless juggling of bits of paper trying to work out where you should be next.

That’s all folks…

For now – the twitter hashtag has many, many tweets for those who can’t wait!

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