How you can help us to make research administration more efficient

Jisc and CASRAI are piloting the development of a ‘UK chapter’ of the CASRAI dictionary to improve research interoperability.
Get in touch by emailing if you’d like to keep up-to-date with progress and to contribute your views. More information is below.

The problem we are addressing
Research teams and administrators must retype the same information repeatedly when applying for grants and reporting to funders. Research policy-makers, managers and evaluators are consistently frustrated by an inability to draw meaningful conclusions from a growing mass of disconnected data. The problem and a way to reduce this administrative duplication for the research community are nicely illustrated in the CASRAI video:

The Solution
The solution suggested by CASRAI is compiling a common, international dictionary. The dictionary contains definitions of key terms or information elements which relate to the management of e.g. research grants, CVs or data management plans and documents controlled vocabularies, authoritative lists and identifiers that are relevant for these terms.  The dictionary thereby provides the basis for data profiles to ease the exchange of information within and between organisations.  As a single, open and unambiguous reference source for data profiles, the CASRAI dictionary can be used by multiple technology suppliers – including those using CERIF or VIVO – thereby forming a basis for interoperability and allowing information to be exchanged smoothly.

The ‘CASRAI approach’ to developing this dictionary and building agreement around key terms is generating more and more interest in the UK research community and we are excited about trialling it here in the UK.

CASRAI and Jisc are piloting three National working groups (NWGs) around a number of priority areas identified at the CASRAI-UK summit organised by Jisc and CASRAI last December. These pilot projects are exploring both the methods and the particular content that is the focus of this work.

The people on the working groups (i.e. funders, research managers, standards experts) will identify and document agreements on vocabularies. While these agreements will build on and have defined relationships with an international core, they will reflect UK requirements. A CASRAI analyst will help to develop ‘data profiles’ which are defined  as a harmonized standard that specifies a subset of information required by the users of an inter-organisational work process.

This approach can prevent us from reinventing wheels and offer a sustainable home for these agreements –  for example also for the outputs of the Jisc UK Research Information Shared Service project.

Three pilot National Working Groups will focus on
1. Data Management Plans

  • Developing an initial data profile reflecting the current version of the Digital Curation Centre’s “DMP-Online” tool.
  • Concurrently, developing a potential further version of the data profile derived from harmonization and discussions among the UK Research Councils.

2. Organisational Lists

  • Assessment and recommendation on the suitability of the planned FundRef list for adoption as a standard authoritative list for international funding organizations.
  • Exploring possible sources of authoritative lists of organisations involved in UK research, including research performing organisations, charities, industry, etc.
  • Develop a sustainable process for maintaining authoritative lists of organisations in the CASRAI dictionary.

3. Research Reporting

  • Data profile supporting institutional report to UK funders for the new policy on Open Access, and for research contributions / outputs more generally

While other areas identified at the CASRAI-UK Summit – Ethics Review and Research Equipment profiles – are also important, we think that these need more discussion before we can convene and set the scope for working groups. For now, these discussions will be continued in a special online forum for each of these topics.

How it works and how you can get invovled
Due to the pilot status of the working groups, the CASRAI governance arrangements and membership model will not be applied to its full extent this year. An objective of the pilot is to develop – together with the people participating in the working groups – a mechanism that works appropriately for the UK.

At the same time as we are starting the working groups we are also convening the CASRAI-UK National Review Circle. This group includes a wider group of people that are interested in the progress of CASRAI-UK and is open for anyone interested to join.

The National Working Groups (NWGs) will, in the course of their work, produce drafts, announcements and other outputs. These will be posted to a dedicated forum for the National Review Circle. This wider group can keep up-to-date on progress but also contribute advice and feedback to the NWGs as they evolve new national standards for the UK research community.
The purpose of the National review Circle is to ensure that the resulting standards are applicable and multi-disciplinary and that valid diverged views are communicated.

Please email if you are interested in joining the National Review Circle or the discussion forum on Ethics Review or Research Equipment profiles.