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This Week in Research – Canadian Association of Research Administration (CARA) National Conference 2017

Canadian Association of Research Administration (CARA) National Conference 2017

From May 7th to 10th, Sean Parsons attended the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Research Administrators.  The focus of this year's meeting, Research Administration: Evolving Roles in a Complex World, was attended by over 400 people.

The Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) is a national voice for research administrators in Canada. Cara is made up of more than 1000 members, and it provides a critical interface between stakeholders in the management of the research enterprise.

The purposes of the Association are:

1. to foster research administration and management expertise in Canada by facilitating a strong and vibrant community;

2. to provide and facilitate robust career and professional development programs and services for members;

3. to enable synthesis and dissemination of information/knowledge on research administration and management with a view to developing individual and organizational excellence.

CARA’s annual conference is held at a different major Canadian city every year, and this year it was held in Winnipeg, Manitoba.  At this year’s conference, there were close to 100 different workshops and seminars offered to attendees.  Some of these sessions included: research proposal development; including indigenous perspectives in research; research finance; strategic research directions; and leadership and change management, to name a few. 

As with every national CARA conference, representatives from all three Tri-Agencies as well as CFI, were in attendance.  They provided several sessions and updates, and answered questions about their ongoing programs and their future directions.  One of the important themes apparent in all of the Tri-Agency sessions was their ongoing work towards ensuring gender equity in all of their granting programs.  Examples of some policy changes reflecting this work include guaranteeing parental leave for postdoctoral fellows funded from a Tri-Agency grant, ensuring that the proportion of grant recipients who are female reflects the proportion of female applicants, or mandating that all institutions meet their equity targets for their Canada Research Chairs or risk losing CRC funding. 

As a point of interest, this year, Sean was invited to chair one of CARA’s “Conversation Stream” workshops, where attendees gather to discuss and share ideas on a topic of wide interest.  Sean’s session, entitled “How to work with researchers to consider advice of research services staff,” was well attended and participants had very meaningful discussion and shared some of their valuable experiences.

More personally, some of the highlights of this year’s conference for Sean included attending the Gala dinner at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, and also some of the personal connections he made with conference attendees from all across the country.

“I attended CIHR’s update session, and spoke with the presenter afterwards.  His name is Dale Dempsey, and he is a Deputy Director at CIHR.  As it turns out, he’s also a Laurentian alumnus, and used to be a faculty member here in Geography, so that was an interesting connection to make.”

For more information on CARA, you can visit their website at