Raising Awareness

"A centre of excellence in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information and cultural heritage communities."

UKOLN is based at the University of Bath.

Research Information Management


From the JISC's briefing paper on Research Information Management (

Research information - administrative information about researchers, projects, outputs and funding that arises from the research process and from managing grant applications - is currently fragmented. It is spread across different systems (in university departments such as finance and human resources, in institutional repositories or with external bodies such as research funders or the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). It is also stored in incompatible formats.

By communicating research information more effectively between systems, the process of sharing data becomes more efficient, duplication of effort is reduced and information becomes more accurate. This in turn gives a truer picture of the current situation, provides universities with reliable information on which to base their strategic plans, and enables them to report on their research more easily.

At a time when universities are considering investment in research information systems and the market for providing these solutions is in its infancy, there is an opportunity to consider options that will meet university needs long-term in areas such as:

  • Strategic management of research: mapping, benchmarking, assessing the costs and benefits of collaboration, etc.
  • Providing funders with information about research outputs and outcomes
  • Presenting evidence relating to the research they host - a requirement of the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

JISC, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the Research Councils and others are helping to develop an infrastructure to connect university- and nation-wide data, improve the management of UK research information and provide guidance, support and opportunities to work together. To this end JISC is currently funding a significant programme of work between 2009 and 2011.

JISC RIM programme support

UKOLN and JISC infoNet provide programme support all of the JISC projects funded as part of the JISC's Research Information Management activity. Projects have been funded in two phases (currently JISC Grant Funding 15/10). JISC infoNet will primarily focus on the business requirements for RIM, UKOLN on data harmonisation needs including CERIF. UKOLN is preparing a series of briefing documents on CERIF, data harmonisation and other matters of interest to the sector. It will also help foster collaboration through focused meetings and workshops.

Other advice is already available to the sector, for example from UCISA, the Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) and from JISC services like the Repositories Support Project. We plan to set up a "helpdesk" address at UKOLN to help ensure that consistent advice is available to JISC's RIM projects and the wider sector.

JISC Grant Funding 15/10

A second round of RIM funding opportunities was announced by the JISC in October 2010 (see: JISC Grant 15/10: JISC infrastructure for education and research programme: UKOLN prepared a supporting document on RIM metadata and CERIF for this call:

The four projects funded by this strand are:

JISC: JISC Grant Funding 11/09

From early 2010, JISC awarded grants to five projects in response to JISC Grant Funding 11/09: Research Information Management. The projects were:

UKOLN have now produced a technical synthesis of the Phase 1 RIM projects. This is available (in PDF) from:

Towards a UK standard for RIM data exchange

JISC previously funded a project to look at the potential adoption of a UK standard to facilitate the exchange of RIM data, e.g. with HEFCE for REF or the Research Councils. The JISC Briefing Paper comments that:

HEFCE and the Research Councils now need to assess whether the adoption of a UK standard can benefit investment in ongoing systems development (for the REF and Research Outcomes project respectively) and consider the EXRI-UK recommendations in the context of their responsibilities as public sector organisations.

Universities need to consider the EXRI-UK recommendations, specifically those relating to CERIF, in their procurement and other investment decisions for 2010 to 2011.

In conjunction with others in the sector, UKOLN will support the harmonisation of data standards and vocabularies (including CERIF), and help review the longer-term potential of Linked Data approaches to RIM.


Relevant UK Projects:

Other Initiatives: