The Connected Communities Professional Services Network - Why do we need it? What does it do?


Over the last year, I have been heavily involved in setting up network of professionals who
support collaborative research. Slowly but surely, we have started to gather momentum and this year will hold our first skills workshop and networking event!

The network came out of a realisation after working with the Connected Communities Programme that there were lots of people supporting research without any support themselves. Often research administrators and managers sit on a blurred boundary between academic and professional services teams and therefore can be isolated by both the nature of the work (individual projects don’t always fit well into other teams) and institutional structures that leave them without access to the training, mentoring and peer support that they need. I also found a strong desire to share experiences, skills and resources amongst those I spoke to. Over the last few years in my role, I’ve met many highly skilled, enthusiastic people with lots to offer, and plenty of questions too, but no way to network with peers. This network has provided us all with the opportunity to develop best practices, offer advice and support each other through problems.

Over the past few months we have come together informally, and with plenty of tea and cake, to get to know one another and discuss a wide range of issues including data management, reporting to funders, employment instability, and the big questions facing Higher Education. We’ve also shared documents, offered each other advice through our email lists, and audited our skills and training.

So, what next? As a network, we’d like to continue to grow and develop opportunities to meet and build connections. We will be launching a blog to share experiences and expertise and we will continue to meet regularly. We will also be exploring the management of collaborative research from a Professional Services perspective by looking at our own skills and career progression as well as developing recommendations for future projects about the level of support they may need and what they need to offer their administrative staff.

We therefore invite all professional services staff working in this area to join us on 11th July to delve into the nature of project support – what skills do we have, what makes us tick, where do we want to go? And to further develop the network by setting some clear ambitions for the next 12 months. Find out more about this exciting opportunity here:

We’d also encourage you to get in touch and join our mailing list for further news and discussion about key issues. Contact Katherine Dunleavy, for details.

To conclude – watch this space, we have lost of exciting ideas to develop and will continue to announce them through the Connected Communities website and get involved, this network has been one of the most stimulating and rewarding I’ve been involved with. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in collaborative research and administration to get in touch, come along to meet some great people and help us improve the support of projects and the people that make them happen.

 Katherine Dunleavy, Connected Communities Co-Ordinator