Monday, 23 November 2009

euroCRIS Members Meeting

University of St. Andrews- November 11-13

Earlier in the month I attended the euroCRIS Members Meeting hosted at the University of St. Andrews. euroCRIS is a not-for-profit association and aims to be the internationally recognized point of reference for all matters relating to Current Research Information Systems (CRIS). The organisation are also charged by the EC as the custodians of CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) an international standard for interoperation of CRIS, and an EU recommendation to the member states.

The first day of the meeting provided an introduction to the group for new members like me, through short presentations on the group’s current activities. There was also a tutorial on CERIF, describing the conceptual model of how the ideal CRIS would be structured and what information should be held to describe every research activity and the relationships between the key entities. The CERIF model is standardized but it is up to the institution applying the model within their system as to which semantics are used to describe each element. This is recognized as a barrier to CRIS interoperability and the euroCRIS Board have begun to look at a Publication Type standardization list. CERIF is a standard and there are a handful of CRIS that are CERIF compliant. CERIF has also been prepared in XML format so it can be applied to a system being designed in- house.

The second day of the meeting began with presentations from a number of specially invited speakers from Scottish HEIs. Valerie McCutcheon gave an interesting presentation on the University of Glasgow’s in- house CRIS. The CRIS is fed by the University’s HR, finance and student records systems as well as their institutional repository Enlighten. The system then in turn feeds the finance and student records systems, the institutional repository and University department’s research mapping databases and academic’s webpages. The system can keep tabs on everyone involved in University research regardless of whether they are internal or external to the University, or whether they are a member of staff or a student. The system is also set up to e-mail the lead researcher of a project to remind them of forthcoming project milestones such as reporting deadlines. Glasgow are currently funded by JISC for their Enrich project, looking to improve the integration of Enlighten with the CRIS.

The second presentation came from Lisa Rogers, Heriot Watt University who is working on the journalTOCs project. The project has aggregated the table of contents’ RSS feeds of over 12,000 journal titles to provide a search and current awareness service for journal publications. The project has also created a number of APIs which can be embedded within a website. One API can offer a search on journal titles, another on article metadata. A third API can limit a search down to those journals subscribed to by an institution. It’s also possible to create a MyTOCs list of selected journal titles. Lisa discussed two possible use cases for the application of a journalTOC API for a repository manager: the first, to help identify new content for a repository; the second, to enhance the metadata of existing recently added items in the repository. It is also possible to set up an alert when a pre-print within a repository is finally published in a journal. I asked Lisa afterwards about the possibility of applying the API in a repository as a way of auto-completing metadata when making a submission to a repository. It was thought that with some developer’s magic this could be possible. The use of the API in this method with some of the commercial CRIS was also discussed as highlighted by the journlTOCs team in their blog post about their attendance at the meeting: Presentation at EUROCRIS.

In the afternoon a presentation was given by Marjan Vernooy, SURFfoundation in which she outlined the results of an investigation comparing three CRIS- PURE (Atira), CONVERIS (Avedas) and Metis. The study compared the three systems on a number of points such as: input and registration; output and reporting; adaptability; and pricing. Although all three systems scored similarly, PURE was the system that scored the highest on most points.

Another presentation of note was given by Mark Cox, Kings College London about their R4R (Readiness4REF) JISC project. The presentation focused specifically on the project objectives directly related to CERIF which are based on the development of a CERIF4REF profile. This profile would act as a wrapper around current CRIS data to make it compatible for REF reporting. The project is also looking to work with both publishers and RCUK to explore the use of CERIF4REF in importing/ exporting data. The application of CERIF4REF with ePrints, Dspace and Fedora repository systems is also being considered.

With the forthcoming REF the implementation of CRIS within institutions has come to the fore. The euroCRIS group is a good point of reference for those interested in the benefits of a CRIS and their potential uses. euroCRIS can offer training in these areas and also hold biennial conferences on related topics. To take advantage of all of the group’s services it is necessary to take out an annual membership . Different membership types are available.

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