Discussion with cluster convenors.

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As the new Convenor of NEER I feel fortunate to be following the innovative and creative lead set by Andrew Lynch and Pam Sharpe in the first two years of NEER's life. The Research Cluster idea was devised by Andrew, followed through by Pam, and it falls to me to preside over its implementation, which I am delighted to do. NEER can only benefit from the work of the clusters, whose outcomes will be one  measure of the collaborative research which NEER continues to promote by means of infrastructure grants.

There are now 14 research clusters, and they involve both established and new scholars, international as well as Australian researchers, each cluster with members from more than one academic institution. While current national policies induce scholars to concentrate on producing work that will enhance the status of their individual institutions, the collaboration across institutions that the ARC Research Network scheme was established to  facilitate may become vulnerable. As I see it, the strength of collaborative research as encouraged by NEER is that it assists scholars - perhaps particularly those in the early stages of their careers, but others, too ­- to define their work in a wide, even global context, which might not have been possible for a researcher working alone.

NEW MEMBERS
We have been asked whether clusters may admit new members, and the committee's  considered response is that the decision to increase cluster membership should be made by the Cluster Co-ordinator in consultation with existing cluster members. This covers  occasions when the cluster wishes to invite another researcher and when an individual researcher wishes to join a cluster.
In this context, two points concerning finance need to be made:
(1). Any increase to a cluster's current membership has to be managed within the existing approved budget.

(2)  If extra funding for clusters does become available,  clusters may apply for additional funds to provide for an increase in membership within limits set by the
NEER committee.

CONFLUENCE
Now that the new communications software, Confluence, is available, I strongly urge clusters to make use of it. Within the NEER management structure we have been using it successfully for some time and find that we can hold discussions more efficiently than by sending strings of emails. Shared documents can be stored on Confluence for restricted access to members of the cluster. As a tool for helping scholars at a distance from each other to communicate effectively, it has many possibilities.

NEER BROCHURE
For some time we have felt the need for a brochure to hand round to people explaining the work of NEER. We are close to bringing this to print, and would like a small paragraph about your cluster of no more than 80 words of continuous prose. The current statement that appears on Confluence is: (quote for each as appropriate)
If you would like to change this to give more character to your cluster, please do so - but I need the amended copy by 5 April.

As well as sending this letter to you by email, I am posting it on Confluence, and would welcome any comments you may have. Please use the Comment facility in Confluence for any queries or responses. As there is nothing confidential in the material, I have posted it with unrestricted access.

All the very best,

Anne

Dr Anne M. Scott
Convenor, ARC Network for Early European Research,
Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences,
The UniversityofWestern Australia,
35 Stirling Highway,
CrawleyWA 6009,
CRICOS PROVIDER NO. 00126G
amscott@cyllene.uwa.edu.au
Tel: +61 8 6488 2187

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