Research at Risk

Research at Risk – survey of services and systems for research data (& other scholarly outputs)

In this blog post, John Kaye introduces our survey on services and systems for research data:

As part of the consultation around our Research at Risk Co-design challenge requirements for shared preservation, archiving and repository services were identified. The university representatives we spoke to explained that they felt that there is a gap in terms of digital preservation provision, and that they felt this was a prime area where Jisc could help; in addition, in all workshops and almost all consultation interviews, the issues of shared storage and repository services were raised as needs.

Exactly what was required to meet these gaps and needs was difficult to define. In some cases framework agreements, where sector requirements are taken into account and due diligence is undertaken, could be appropriate, in others there could be a need for shared services provision, whether procured or developed, and in some it may be more about informing the sector about the solutions that are available. 

In response to this we have launched a survey, with our colleagues working in Scholarly Communications, to dig deeper so we can better understand what is currently in place to support research data management, research administration and digital scholarship; what plans there might be and what are the issues are that universities are facing.

The survey focuses on Research Services and Systems and covers six system areas:

 –          Active research data storage and archival and preservation storage for research data

–          Archival and preservation solutions

–          Current research information systems (CRIS)

–          Institutional repositories

–          Research data catalogue or registries

–          Research software

The survey goes beyond research data and asks questions about systems for managing all digital research objects (including papers, data, code and software). We want to get a picture of the data storage infrastructures that institutions are using, how they plan to grow these infrastructures over the next few years and what systems they use, or plan to use, to register, catalogue, track, publish, archive and preserve different types of digital objects. 

The results of the survey will inform the actions that Jisc can undertake with the HE sector to meet the pressing research data requirements. We will also complement this work with focus group discussions to ensure the problem spaces that the sector require solutions to, are clearly understood.

The survey has been sent to the heads of IT and library at UK HE institutions to coordinate responses, and we are looking for one response per institution.  The research systems area is broad, combining different work areas, so may need a coordinated response across roles and teams in institutions. A PDF of the survey questions can be downloaded in advance, to allow institutions to prepare answers and to identify the staff members best placed to complete each section.​

The survey data will be supplemented by existing data in this area, such as the OpenDoar Directory of Open Access Repositories and information collected on the use of current research information systems (CRIS) by institutions.  

As well as informing Jisc’s activities these survey findings may be of interest to institutions themselves. Shortly after the survey closes on 22nd May anonymised findings will be made openly available in a suitable repository and summarised on this blog. Individual organisational responses will not be identifiable in these publications.  

We have launched the research systems survey alongside the Jisc cloud services survey that is gathering information around cloud services, to inform new shared services for the HE & FE/Skills sectors, shared procurement, and connectivity. This part of the survey has been directly commissioned by the Jisc Technology consultative forum. More information on the work of the forum can be found on the Jisc website .

To keep you updated on our work on research services, we would also like to make you aware of another related, upcoming survey via the Jisc-funded Digital Curation Centre (DCC). This will be released in May 2015 and will be a re-run of the DCC’s survey in 2014 , covering the maturity of research data management services in research-active universities. The aim of this work is to build a national picture of progress towards better coordination of research data management, within and across institutions.