Repositories and Research Management Systems

Now there’s a title that grabs the attention!

I thought it might be useful to briefly mention a JISC report on embedding repositories into institutional research management systems, because it seems to be a way of promoting the use of the repository. We all know repositories are basically a “good thing” but I still think that we’re some way from achieving anything like the level of integration into institutional practice that they need if we’re to realise the benefits from the investment of time and effort we’ve made so far.

Research Management Systems (for those readers who don’t follow these matters closely) are ways in which universities manage their research. Sometimes sophisticated software packages are used, sometimes it’s done through a rather haphazard collection of spreadsheets and databases.

Now you might say there are two things here. Managers are interested in the latter – knowing how many things the university has published, and where, and less interested in reading the outputs of the research. Academic colleagues are probably more likely to be interested in the outputs. That’s probably true, but there are many benefits to integrating the two.

Benefits at institutional level in the longer term include

  • Preparedness for REF (and its successors), better-populated IRs and better self-service for people interested in contacting/working with the HEI.
  • Speedier processing of grant applications and easier progress tracking during application stages and lower costs of maintaining quality.
  • The spreadsheet-anddatabase systems approach has a number of obvious vulnerabilities.
  • Realising the benefits depends on increasing the number of well-populated IRs and linking or merging IRs and publications database.
    It would promote compliance with OA mandates

The adoption of a common standard for information will further help
interoperability. There is something called CERIF (Common European Research Information Framework) and this is standard does appear to have made some progress towards wider acceptance.

However it does need senior management commitment. Start-up costs are likely to be high, and there will be ongoing personnel costs required to maintain both quality and quality of information.

The resources to manage and maintain IR and RMS are specialist rather than generic, and if there is an increased take-up of the integrated approach it is possible that demand could exceed supply. Which, in these straitened times should be an encouragement for all “repository rats” (A term I’ve stolen from Dorothea Salo) to start thinking hard about these issues