All 2 entries tagged Research Management

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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.


January 31, 2011

Research Management: Smoothing the Way

Writing about web page http://crc.nottingham.ac.uk/

This event, at RIBA, looked at creating an environment of 'joined-up' thinking about research. A area that many of the institutions attending had all made a start on, at least between the Library and the Research Support Offices, but that all needed to expand to include all the actors in the research cycle, from the research funders down.

The introduction helped to set the scene and emphasised the problem that too often the research management we have at the moment is too narrowly focused and does not take into account the full breadth of the issues that are inherent in 'research'.  Especially the fact that you cannot look to manage research if you are not also managing teaching.  One speaker even posed the question of whether it is even possible to 'manage' research!  Overall it was felt that a dialogue needed to be begun between all the areas involved in supporting research to stop the wasteful duplication of effort that is often present currently.

Three of the case studies introduced a collection of different approaches to 'research management', through a broad and integrated IR (Glasgow), through the Research Information System (Newcastle) and using a full CRIS (St Andrews).  The final case study looked at paying for open access publication (Nottingham) as a way of looking at the ways the University can support the dissemination part of the research cycle.  The funders were representatives from the Wellcome Trust and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and looked at the issues they had in ensuring compliance for their open access policies.  Despite the ease of compliance for Wellcome trust funded research through publishers and UKPMC they still only have a compliance rate of 50%.  The Wellcome trust emphasised their current activities in working with publishers to ensure compliance through this route (currently 85% of the Wellcome funded research in UKPMC came from publisher deposit).  As well as the things that the institution could be doing in terms of advocacy and awareness raising with their academics, particularly in terms of the funding available within institutions (Warwick readers can find details of the Wellcome Trust open access fund here).  Gerry Lawson from NERC looked at the issue form the perspective of a single funder and looked at the possibility of monitoring compliance through IR harvest (interesting as NERC mandates deposit to NORA, but useful for other funders).  This was proposed to take place in the beginning few months of 2012 to cover all outputs from 2011.  If this really is the case the funders will need to start confirming that this is the case soon to allow institutions to prepare!

The group and panel discussions focussed on two questions:

  • What do we need to know?
  • What do we need to do next?

This lead to some very interesting points:

  • Research funders are restricted in the ways they can give money to a institution;
  • Libraries are happy to administer central OA funds but want some guidance from the faculties/departments as to criteria as to where to allocate the limited funds;
  • Can funders really do more, after all the open access requirement is part of the contact that academics sign;
  • Funders really need more figures on spend on OA publishing to to take the argument with the publishers (subscription charges in relation to revenue for open access) forward;
  • Would it help if RCUK and HEFCE pushed for the REF2020 to only grant eligibility to OA papers (80% of the submissions to the RAE2008 could have been made OA through their existing journal (but how to pay for this!));
  • Standardisation needs to be a much bigger priority to allow these diverse systems to talk to each other better;
  • Are sanctions from the funders the best way to push up compliance?  Is there a happy medium available?;
  • Possibility of extending the writing up period?  RLUK and ARMA to look to creating a request to RCUK to move this forward.

Sadly the discussion ran out of time but produced some much needed enthusiasm to look at taking some of these points forward in the future.  All round a very valuable day (and chance to meet some new faces from the research support side of things) and many thanks to the CRC for organising.  The was a suggestion to run the day again due to the huge demand for places, if they do I would highly recommend it!!!


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