Have you ever met PhD level research scientists who are employed to manage people and their organisation? This can be problematic as they may not have the correct competencies, despite being excellent scientists. The CEB project “RItrain” - funded by H2020 - addresses these issues, which is breaking new ground in that its terms of reference is for research infrastructures (RI).
Throughout Europe there are RI working with different legal and cultural systems, making it especially challenging to fund and perform ‘big science’. This issue has been partially overcome by establishing intergovernmental organisations enabling Europe to compete effectively on a global scale in areas such as particle physics (i.e. CERN). The RItrain project is tasked with enabling managers of RI to perform optimally by encouraging scientists to undertake important management roles. The overarching goals are the identification of competency requirements for professional management of European RI and designing training programmes to fulfil these requirements. The RItrain consortium has identified five major objectives for the project:
1. Definition of required competencies in RI from preparatory to operational phases;
2. Mapping of these competency requirements to existing training courses and programmes;
3. Development and piloting of a comprehensive curriculum at Master’s level incorporating existing training opportunities and creating new content to fill gaps;
4. Development of webinars based on how real challenges in RI have been overcome; and
5. A staff-exchange programme.
Delivery of the Master´s is by the University of Milano-Bicocca, Italy with the University of Minho, Portugal and Imperial College London, UK. A paper (Paterson et al. 2017) is accepted for publication in Trends in Microbiology, a high impact journal, which describes the project. The article provides the results of a questionnaire given to another EU-funded RI, The Microbial Resource Research Infrastructure (MIRRI), who were asked, “Which management competencies do they consider important for RI scientists?”. MIRRI also involves CEB researchers. Overall, making competent European managers of RI from scientists is finally being addressed.