First objective of the JISC-supported Sonex initiative was to identify and analyse deposit opportunities (use cases) for ingest of research papers (and potentially other scholarly work) into repositories. Later on, the project scope widened to include identification and dissemination of various projects being developed at institutions in relation to the deposit usecases previously analyzed. Finally, Sonex was recently asked to extend its analysis of deposit opportunities to research data.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

'Learning how to play nicely: Repositories and CRIS: a report', by Richard Jones

Friday 7th was the joint JISC and ARMA event "Learning how to play nicely: Repositories and CRIS", aimed at stirring up some discussion around the relationship and integration between these two kinds of system. Such integration has been talked about for some time, and I find myself recalling the Knowledge Exchange workshop in Utrecht where JISC, in partnership with SURF and DEFF and DFG initiated similar discussions in 2007. It is good to see that this discussion has moved from the domain of Repository, CRIS and CERIF developers into the mainstream of Research and Repository Managers, where requirements can more appropriately be sourced. For this technical observer the event was somewhat too non-technical, but I think this was the intention and for the best.

Andy McGregor from JISC set the scene for the event, giving us a little background on JISC involvement, and talking about different approaches that could be taken to integration, such as the use of CERIF or of Linked Data for the sharing of information. He then passed us over to Simon Kerridge from ARMA, who discussed in a bit more detail what a CRIS is; he also gave us some better terminology that we might prefer to use: RMAS (Research Management and Administration System) and ERA (Electronic Research Administration). The briefing paper that accompanies the event tells us that "by communicating research information more effectively ... the process of sharing data becomes more efficient, duplication of effort is reduced and information becomes more accurate", and this clearly drives the purpose of the day. Particularly, there is no intention here to merge CRIS and Repositories - the two communities have sufficiently different use cases that this is unlikely to happen - but simply to enhance communication between them in the correct way.

Anna Clements then introduced the CRIS that they use at St Andrews, while William Nixon and Valorie McCutcheon from the University of Glasgow presented Enlighten. Particularly, Enlighten is an interesting case as it is based on the EPrints software, and started life as an institutional repository in around 2003, but has now grown into a fully fledged publications management system. The presentations were then wrapped up by Jackie Knowles, from the Welsh Repository Network (the event organisers), who gave us an insight into things that went well and things that didn't during development of CRIS and Repository systems at institutions around the country. The ones that stuck for me were:

  • Don't overcomplicate your requirements

  • Don't develop DIY solutions which turn into single points of failure (i.e. ensure they are robust against staff changes)

  • Ensure that your requirements are well specified and met; she cites an unfortunate and extreme tale of a team who lost their jobs after failing to successfully implement a system which had no formal requirements in the first place!

The afternoon of the event was given over to discussion among delegates, and this observer did not attend due to his position as representing a supplier - the event coordinators felt that without the suppliers present the conversation would be more candid. The results of those discussions should be made available soon, and we'll link them when they are. Meanwhile, I therefore represented Symplectic in the exhibition stall, alongside Avedas, EPrints, Atira, ARMA, ThomsonReuters, IDEATE and DuraSpace; it was busy for much of the afternoon, which I think shows a clear interest in this space at this time.

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