DARMA launches The Blog!

28 Jan 2016 16:30 | Olaf Svenningsen (Administrator)

The Chair’s Corner – introducing DARMA's blog and my recap of 2015

2016 is already well on its way, but I still extend my best wishes for the new year to all of DARMA's members and friends! DARMA’s board decided to launch a blog in the autumn of 2015, and now I finally managed to pull myself together and do it. To read the entire text, click "Read more" below! 

One purpose of this blog is to share the activities of the Chair, the Board and other members with the DARMA community. Another important purpose is to encourage discussion, so please feel free to comment, either by using the "Add comment" link below, or by sending me mail.

In this blog, DARMA will post contributions from interested members, and we will also invite guests to write on relevant topics. If you wish to write, or have a suggestion for something you would like to read, please contact me.

The language of the blog is either English or Danish. I am writing in English now to be able to share with our international friends, but also because having grown up in Sweden, I actually have no formal training in the Danish language at all. Since Danish and Swedish are dangerously similar, I am constantly at risk of being unintentionally entertaining. The so called "false friends" tend to occur mainly below the belt, so for example, using the common Swedish expression for brainstorming (“bolla idéer”) in a Danish context could lead to all kinds of interesting situations. So I will stick to English for the blog.

After this long introduction, let me briefly recapitulate 2015 from the Chair’s point of view:

DARMA’s Annual Meeting 2015 (AM) was held in Odense, attended by c. 70 members + presenters. For the first time, a lunch-to-lunch format was tested, and another new feature was to have the General Assembly before the AM, not after. According to the evaluation, the participants were happy with these changes. Among things to improve are to announce the AM earlier—which we have not been able to do for DARMA 2016, but for 2017, we have already decided that the DARMA Annual Meeting will be 4-5 May. My next blog post will be about the annual meetings, so enough for now.

I attended our British sister association, ARMA's Annual Meeting in Brighton because the INORMS Steering Group held a meeting there. There is so much going on with INORMS that I will write a separate blog post on that topic, too. At the ARMA meeting, I was inspired by some session formats, which DARMA will steal… I mean borrow, of course. The first is the Funders’ Forum, where leading representatives from the major research funders in the country participate in a panel discussion about the current and future state of research funding. The second “loan” is the “hot topic roundtable discussion” format, which is a great and relaxed way to encourage discussion, follow up on Special Interest Group (erfa-gruppe) activities, and maybe spark new ideas for activities. Both the Funders’ Forum and Hot Topic Discussion Roundtables will be features of the 2016 DARMA Annual Meeting.

The next conference was EARMA’s Annual Conference in Leiden, which DARMA members also attended. The highlights from Leiden included me stepping down from EARMA’s board (to be honest, that was not so much of a highlight as it was a necessity; being on two boards simultaneously is too difficult to reconcile with having a daytime job, family and an undecided number of cats). I attended many interesting sessions, and was part of starting a new Cultures and Diversity Working Group within EARMA. One important result of the Leiden conference was that the heads of all the European research management associations (RMA) met as a group for the first time. The RMA’s from Denmark, the UK, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Poland and Austria, EARMA of course, as well as the BestPrac network were present at this meeting. This was my idea, it was positively received and we have formed an informal network of RM chairs, the Leiden Group. This group is currently discussing, among other topics, whether or not to establish a European research management and administration professional magazine or journal. I will of course keep the DARMA membership posted on the progress of this project.

The next INORMS meeting was in Washington DC in August, at the NCURA Annual Meeting, so I went on a quick trip to a desperately hot US capital. Temperatures outside reached 39°C in the shade, which was very different from the Danish summer. I presented at a few sessions, and the most interesting was also the one that attracted the smallest number of participants. It was a discussion group on the experiences of setting up and managing RMA’s. In spite of the few attendants, the discussion was spirited and interesting, and together with the experience from Leiden, I learned that RMA’s in some countries are seen has highly controversial . This will surely be a theme at the INORMS conference in Melbourne in September.

Then there was just one more conference; the SRA International Annual Conference 2015, which was held at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, this epicentre of good taste and elegance—or not. SRA International has special connections with DARMA, since both the president of the association, John Westensee, and the International President, Annedorte Vad, should be familiar to DARMA members. The conference was spectacular and a success. I “only” gave one presentation, an exploration of responsible conduct in research administration, which started a really interesting discussion. The outcome of this session was brought to the INORMS steering group meeting already the next day (!), and ended up in a decision to explore the possibilities of an international code of conduct for research administrators. I will certainly get back to this topic in the future. In the slightly less serious end of the spectrum, the Las Vegas conference was rich in Elvis impersonators and everywhere one walked on The Strip, there was people dressed as Olaf, which was a little disturbing.

This is a quick and extremely brief summary of the activities of the chair in 2015. In 2016, I will keep the members updated continuously through this blog. Through this blog, I look forward to sharing my—and hopefully other’s—thoughts and experiences with the members, ultimately leading to an even better association.

Please feel free to comment (use "Add comment")below or by mailing me. 

Det går selvfølgelig fint at skrive på dansk... :-)


  • 28 Jan 2016 19:59 | Torben Høøck Hansen
    Nice idea with a blog, let us hope it will lead to loads interesting discussions, and of exchange of ideas
    ...and brain storms (love the Swedish term for it, but not sure it will go down well if translated to English!)
    Link  •  Reply

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