Competency-based Training Needs Assessment for Research Managers and Administrators in Africa and the United Kingdom to Strengthen Equitable Partnerships

Victoria Nembaware, Simon Glasser, Collet Dandara, Anne Priest, Ailsa Davies, Michelle Skelton, Paidamoyo Bodzo, Olivia Lelong, Alecia Naidu, Colleen Masimirembwa, Alice Mutambiranwa, Annette Hay, Ambroise Wonkam

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Background: The need for competent research managers and administrators (RMAs) has increased due to the complexity in managing research projects between disparate and international partners. To facilitate the creation of robust training and professional development programmes it is essential to first understand the status quo. A collaborative project, Sustainable Management and Administration for Research: Training across the project Lifecycle (SMARTLife), made up of RMAs from South Africa, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom (UK) developed a set of competencies to conduct an RMA competency-based training needs assessment scoping tool. Method: Nine areas were identified: Equitable partnership; Finance Management; Project Management; Monitoring and Evaluation; Reporting and Communications; Equity, Diversity & Inclusion; Training and Capacity Development; Impact a& Sustainability; and Ethical, Social, Legal a& Social Implications. Tasks for each competency area were identified to develop an scoping tool that had 168 data collection points. The tool was advertised through press releases, mailing lists and social media. Results: 108 responses were obtained: with 49% from 15 Africa countries/the remainder from the UK. The UK (71%) had more permanent RMA staff members compared to Africa (39%). There were more respondents in Africa with the title of Research Manager/Coordinator(p=0.0132) compared to the UK where most of the RMAs were employed as Finance/Contract officers. 60% of respondents from the UK had more than three years experience while only 35% from Africa had experience. While most RMAs had formal higher education qualifications, their training was not in research management and administration, which requires a diverse range of skills. Confidence in specific tasks varied between the UK and Africa whereas collaborative partnerships challenges and enablers were similar. Conclusion This work highlights differences in RMA training and experience RMA between Africa and UK, this work could inform much needed competency-based training for RMAs and partnership strategies that aid mutual-learning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalOpen Research Africa
Early online date10 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Sarah Tupper, Tamsin Thomas, H3Africa Coordinating Center team (Confidence Mothiba, Tanian Natus), SADaCC Technical team (Mario Jonas, Jean-Michel Safari Serufuri), H3ABioNet REDCap team (especially Mamana Mbiyavanga). We also acknowledge Syntia Nchangwi Munung for critically reviewing this manuscript.


  • Africa
  • Competencies
  • Needs Assessment
  • Research Manager and administrators
  • United Kingdom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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