It’s now almost four years since I took up my current post as a Senior Lecturer 1 at the Dublin Institute of Technology. I had been asked to give a presentation about ‘Providing academic leadership’ as part of the application process. The document I prepared for it has been on my web site ever since. It is still there, but today I removed the link from the homepage and I have reproduced it below.
The linked document is a personal expression in relation to academic leadership at a particular moment in time and under the rather specific heading of “Providing academic leadership through the role of Senior Lecturer 1 (Teaching) using the theme of ‘Sustainable Energy’ as an example.” (PDF file 74KB)
Pi in the sky
It would be pi-in-the-sky for a researcher to expect that they could spend research money as through it were their own. Regulation and accountability are necessary and there must be a full audit trail for all research expenditure. As research, in a sense, is about daring to make mistakes and learning from them, mistakes can and will be made with expenditure too. Research money can easily be spent too hastily or without sufficient consideration. This is why a researcher must be entrusted
with spending decisions and must be fully answerable
for all decisions made. The track record of a research leader should testify to their batting average in the use of precious research funds. Those who fund research do not seek perfection in expenditure decisions any more than in other aspects of research. Research funders are seeking value for their research investment.
Research finance procedures, like all procedures, are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The finance procedures must not block the research: this is fundamental. There are many aspects to this, but here I would like to focus on just one: what does a researcher who already has funds to engage in research need in order to get-on with the financial aspects of the research?