August 08, 2011

IRIOS Workshop – Part One: The Presentations

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The IRIOS (Integrated Research Input and Output System) workshop at the JISC Headquarters was designed to demonstrate the preliminary look of a system designed to take information from the RUCKL funders on Grant awards and combine it with the information from University's IRs and CRIS systems. The event was attended by research managers, representatives of four RCUK funders and repository managers and all of the presentations can be seen at the link above.

The event kicked off with a video presentation from Josh Brown of JISC discussion the RIM (Research Information Management) programme of projects. One interesting statistic was that it is estimated the £85mill/year is spent on submitting grant proposals and administering awards. Once again the savings that can be realised with the use of the CERIF data format was raised and the point that REF submissions can be made to HEFCE in CERIF was highlighted as a sign of the growing importance of the standard. IRIOS was highlighted as a step towards a more integrated national system of data management. Josh closed with the news of a further JISC funding call to investigate further uses of CERIF due to be announced soon.

Simon Kerridge (Sunderland) was up next to discuss the landscape and background of the project and the need for interoperability and joined up thinking between a number of different University departments if we are to make the most of an increasingly competitive environment. He also spoke of the ways in which IRIOS might feed into the RMAS (Research Management and Administration System) project further enhancing the cloud based system. Simon finished by touching on the challenges (research data management and unique researcher IDs anyone) and opportunities for the future (esp. the JISC funding call).

Gerry Lawson (NERC) was up next with a whistle stop tour round the RCUK 'Grants on the Web' (GoW) systems. Starting with a stern warning that if the funders and institutions don't find a way to match up the data held by both parties commercial services will find a way to fill the gap (for example Elsevier's SciVal is already starting this process), thus putting both parties back into the situation where we have to buy our own data back. Other products are also making a start on this process, as can be seen in the UK PubMed Central's grant lookup tool. Gerry made the vital point that all of the information is available but linking it is going to take work. The RCUK 'Grants of the Web' system is a start in this process as it brings together all of the grants by all RCUK funders in a single system. The individual research councils then use this centralised data to populate their individual GoW interfaces with each interface being set up to the specifications of the individual research councils. With one exception, AHRC, grant data about individual funded PhDs is not included in the GoW systems due to the RCUK preference for handling funded PhDs through their network of Doctoral Training Centres. Gerry closed saying there was a real desire from the RCUK to start linking outputs with funding grants (and expanding into research data and impact measures) especially in relation to monitoring compliance with Open Access mandates. Challenges still remained; a need for a common export format (CERIF); authority files for people, projects, institutions; the issue of department structures within institutions changing over time etc.

Dale Heenan (ESRC), ably assisted by Darren Hunter (EPSRC), discussed the RCUK 'Research Outcomes Project' (ROP). The project was based on the ESRC's Research Catalogue (running on Microsoft Zentity 2.0) extended to meet the needs of the four pilot councils, AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC. (Worth noting that MRC and STFC use the e-Val system). The ROP system is designed to create an evidence base to demonstrate the economic impact of funded research and also designed to attempt to reduce duplication of effort. Upload of data can come from a range of stakeholders, grant holders (PIs or their nominated Co-Is), institutions, IRs etc. and can cover individual items or bulk uploads. Management Information is provided using Microsoft Reporting Services. Future challenges for the system include ways to automate the deposit of research outputs, development/adoption of standards such as CERIF, ways to pull data from external services like Web of Knowledge, PubMed Scopus etc.

The main presentation for the day is of the IRIOS demonstrator by Kevin Ginty and Paul Cranner (Sunderland). The IRIOS project is a 'proof of concept' demonstrator of a GoW like service using the CERIF dataformat and is based on the 'Universities for the North East' project tracking system (CRM). One feature of the service is that four levels of access (hidden, summary, read only, write) can be assigned to three distinct groups (global, individual, groups of users) allowing a fine level of dynamic control over the data contained in the system. All grants and publications have a unique ID that is automatically generated by the system and any edits mad in the current system do not feed back to the system that originated the data. Currently the system is only accepting manual linking of grant to output but there are plans to look into automation of this process. In the future it might be possible to import data from larger databases like Web of Knowledge but information gathered by the research councils indicates that only 40% of outputs are correctly attributed to the grant that funded the research.

If you would like to try the demonstrator version of the IRIOS system details on how to login can be found here.

Comments on the presentations and information on the workshops is to follow in part two.

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