Many universities and other research organisations have implemented local systems capable of capturing details of research projects and the outputs arising from them, such as publications, collaborations, spin-out companies and patents. Similar (and in some cases the same) information is collected from researchers on behalf of subscribing research organisations and funders by researchfish|®. As highlighted by a recent review promoting interoperability, the research councils recognise the importance of working with research organisations, other funders and researchfish® to develop effective and efficient ways of sharing such information so that it need be entered by researchers only once.
Roughly half of the outputs reported from RCUK funded research are publications, the majority of which have publisher-generated unique identifiers which makes it practicable in principle to exchange this information between systems. For funder systems to accept data there is the additional requirement that each publication is linked to at least one valid grant reference number. It is also critical to the Research Councils that introducing interoperability (thereby reducing the ‘data entry’ burden) does not reduce the overall volume and range of research outcomes reported to them by researchers.
RCUK, the NC3Rs, CRUK and Academy of Medical Sciences, together with six universities (Universities of Cambridge, Bristol, St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Imperial College) have piloted the transfer of publication data from the HEIs’ information systems to researchfish®, and the transfer of researchfish® publication data to HEI information systems.
The aim is to eliminate the need to re-enter grant-paper linkages once these have been fully and accurately captured - either locally at the HEI, in researchfish®, or in the original publication metadata created by the publisher. Researchers are still required to enter details of all other research outcomes (including other publications) into researchfish®, and to submit their complete and accurate and up-to-date record of outcomes during the annual submission period.
The results of the first phase of the pilot were reported at the CRIS2016 meeting in St Andrews in 2016 and the results of the 2nd phase, which completed successfully in 2017, were reported at the 2017 ARMA conference. The process supported the import of almost 5,000 new publications and attributions from the six institutions, and almost 20,000 new records from publication datasets such as CrossREF and PubMed into the researchfish® dataset relevant to the ten funders. Researchers were supportive of the process and welcomed the time saved from this automated process.
The Research Councils will continue to make available to each research organisation (RO) on request a complete set of the data submitted by their staff after each submission period. The RO can then import this data into an internal research information system, if it wishes. A full researchfish® RO dashboard is available through an annual subscription from Researchfish Ltd. which enables an RO to download data submitted by staff from the researchfish system at any time – view the researchfish® website for further information.
Funders and individual PIs alike are invited to put forward ideas for future enhancements. The “Make a suggestion” form is available from any of the help popups within researchfish. Ideas will be discussed and prioritised, and may feed into the researchfish future development roadmap.