Should I join a professional society for research administration?
December 27, 2012 10:59 AM Subscribe
Should I join a professional society for research administration? I oversee a social science research center at a prestigious Midwestern university. We're funded through a NIH P01. I started at this institution as an editorial type about 5 years ago, and thanks to some fortunate coincidences and active campaigning on my part, I now supervise the day-to-day operations of a staff of about 15. Along with other duties, I am responsible for many of the administrative aspects of active and prospective grants (overseeing ledgers, creating budgets, preparing progress reports, etc.) My title is "associate director," but I think the generic term for what I do is "research administrator."
I like my job, and I'm at an age (32) where I'd like to do what I can to make this a career, and I wonder whether it would be worthwhile to join a professional society. (There seem to be two: the National Council of University Research Administrators [NCURA] and the Society for Research Administrators [SRA]. I can't tell what sets them apart from each other.) I know that one of my predecessors was involved with one of them, but in what capacity I'm not sure.
Arguments for joining/going to conferences include network building (I don't know many other research administrators), learning things, and demonstrating some commitment to this line of work. Arguments against include cost (maybe ~$1k annually for membership and travel, likely subsidized by work) and the hassle of having to attend conferences.
I also wonder how applicable most of this will be to me, since there aren't a lot of compliance issues since I don't deal with animal studies or human subjects, and I'm not in a position to influence anyone's policies.
I'm very interested in all thoughts about my situation and/or professional societies in general - and if anyone can tell me why NCURA is better than SRA or vice versa, I'd love to know!