August 08, 2011

IRIOS Workshop – Part Two: Comment and Workshops

Writing about web page http://www.irios.sunderland.ac.uk/index.cfm/2011/8/1/IRIOS-Workshop-Parellel-Sessions

One thing I took away from the workshop session was that both systems ROP and IRIOS were doing the right things and going in the right directions but weren't quite there yet. A big concern to me as an IR manager (and as a former Metadata Librarian) was that the IRIOS system creates yet more unique identifiers (see later in this entry for further discussion of unique IDs). Also automation of the project linking to outputs can't come fast enough, especially for services like WRAP where we spend a not inconsiderable amount of time tracking down funding information from the papers. However we could also benefit from taking information from systems such as this, which tie the recording of information about outputs much more closely to the money, which is always a motivator for people to get data entered correctly!

I think it is telling that more and more of these 'proof of concept' services are being developed using the CERIF dataformat (after R4R I'm looking forward to hearing about the MICE project early next month) but the trick with a standard is that it is only a standard if everyone is using it. I don't think we are quite there yet, I think this coming REF has been such an uncertain process so far that I think there is a lot more chance of CERIF being the main deposit format in the next REF. (If I'm still here for the next REF I'll have to reflect back on this and see if I was right!)

The afternoon of the work shop was taken up with a number of workshop discussions on a range of topics, below are a few of the notes I took in the two discussions I took part in. To see the full run down of all of the discussions please see the link above.

Universal Researcher IDs (URID)

It was generally accepted by all in the discussion that unique IDs for things, be they projects, outputs, researchers or objects were a good idea in terms of data transfer and exchange. They must be a good idea as there are so many different ones you can have (in the course of the discussion we mentioned more than eight current projects to create URIDs). Things are much easier to link together if they all bear a single identifier. However when it comes to people the added issue of data protection rears its head and can potentially hamper any form of identification if it is 'assigned' to the person. A way round this was suggested to allow people to sign up to identifiers, thus allowing those who wish to opt out to do so. Ethically the best route perhaps but unless a single service was designated we could end up with a system similar to the one we have now where everyone is signing up, but not using a whole array for services. The size of the problem is the size of the current academic community and global in scope. Some of the characteristics of URIDs we came up with were they just be; unique (and semantic free - previously mentioned privacy issues), have a single place that assigns them, have a sustainable authority file, not be tied to a role. One current service in place that fulfils many of the above criteria is the UUID service, however this falls down in that there is no register of assigned IDs so people can apply for multiple IDs if they forget them (and lets face it the likely hood of remembering a 128 number is kind of low) ... and we're back in the same situation again. I'm not sure there is a single perfect solution to this problem, though my life would be easier if there was!

REF Considerations

This was a free form discussion that covered the REF, REF preparations and 'Life after the REF' in various guises. HEFCE are currently tendering for the data to be used in the REF at the moment, needless to say the two services bidding are the expected two, Thomson Reuters and Scopus, but HEFCE will only be buying one lot of data. Bibliometrics were touched upon in relation to the REF, is it better to have two people select a really highly cited paper or choose two lower cited papers? Discussions on the HESA data, checking the data once it comes back from HESA, possibilities of mapping the future HESA data to the REF UoA for long term benchmarking rather than a single point hat goes out of date very quickly. Do people's CRIS systems really hold all of the data required for a return? What are the differences between the impact as measured/requested by HEFCE and the Impact measured by RCUK? Selection policy and training, the possibility of sector wide training, possible best practise mentioned in the idea to train a small core group of people who would handle all of the enquires centrally. Would it be possible for institutions to get the facilities data on a yearly basis rather than just before the REF and then have to try and chase people who may not remember/have left to try and verify the data?

One interesting comment from the discussion was the news that NERC, at least, has seen a big increase in the number of grant applications including a direct cost for Open Access funding. Interesting particularly is that there had been a number of comments made to me that researchers didn't want to do that are they feared making their grant application too expensive.

All in all the day was very interesting for me as an introduction to a 'world beyond publications' (as I was attending both for myself and for a member of our Research Support Services department) and as an indication of what we need to do to go forward.


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