General Research data blogs

Promoting an inclusive market place with the Research Repositories Dynamic Purchasing System

The institutional procurement process can be tough for smaller repository suppliers. The Research Repositories Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) gives all types of repository suppliers visibility in the market place and a mechanism to respond to opportunities that reduces bureaucracy for them and for prospective purchasers.

 Challenging Tender Process

The recent experience of 4TU.ResearchData in procuring their new repository shows that it can be hard to engage smaller and open source suppliers in the The European Union OJEU tender process. 4TU.ResearchData tried hard to attract responses from open source suppliers through their networks, but when it came to tender stage they had two main bidders, both from the commercial sector. Responses from potential open source suppliers, Dryad and CERN (Zenodo) indicated that the tender process was seen to be onerous and too bureaucratic:

Our organizations were not represented in the tender process because the framework of this organizational decision-making processes, specifically, the bureaucracy of the tender process, presented a number of challenges eliminating us from the competition. These same challenges, which are faced by other nonprofits and government agencies, inherently favor commercial entities that are well-suited to go through the process

This experience shows that engaging in the compulsory tender process can be a barrier to the adoption and growth of smaller and open source solutions in this space. Large commercial vendors have the resource, expertise and experience to navigate this process, which can be a a huge resource commitment for smaller organisations.

Through the Research Repositories DPS Jisc aims to ease some of these issues and provide a level playing field for all types of suppliers that we hope will generate more opportunities for small and open source suppliers.

About the DPS

The Research Repositories DPS  is an OJEU-compliant mechanism to procure repository solutions. This was created  following feedback from the UK research sector and Jisc members about difficulties of procuring repository services, and the need for leadership and minimum standards in this area.

Suppliers can join the DPS at any time. Suppliers apply to Jisc and are assessed on minimum standards through a light touch process.

Jisc members (which include all publicly funded UK universities) can use the service to run mini competitions with suppliers, using standard templates provided, and adding additional requirements of their own, if necessary. Jisc will administer the process on behalf of the member, who will can use their criteria to identify their preferred supplier. If a supplier is selected, Jisc notifies all bidders of the result and contracts are between the preferred supplier and member are drawn up.

Inclusive System

The DPS allows for any repository supplier to be included as long as suppliers meet the minimum standards. It does not favour licenced or open source, commercial or not for profit or organisation size. The system sets out a common base of standards, creating a level playing field between suppliers. The DPS has a large focus on promoting open standards, which is an area where Open Source repositories are traditionally strong.

As an OJEU compliant system there is an assessment process to join, this has been made as light touch as possible. Being approved on the scheme shows Jisc members that suppliers have already been assessed on key criteria, meaning that questions in mini-competitions will be around any areas that go beyond the minimum standards.  This reduces bureaucracy for suppliers; providing the information to Jisc once means that it shouldn’t be necessary to provide it many times individually for our members.

Once on the DPS the suppliers are visible to Jisc members and will be notified of mini competitions that our members carry out. This increases access to opportunities for suppliers that may not have large budgets for marketing and engagement.

The DPS is dynamic, meaning that suppliers can join at any time. There is no need to rush to a deadline, suppliers can apply whenever resource allows.

The system also allows Jisc members who may find it hard to secure resources for procurement exercises to streamline their procurement process and engage with a larger group of suppliers than they may have done managing it on their own.

Opportunities for repository suppliers

Repository suppliers can apply to join the DPS at any time.  Details can be found here

If you are already talking to a repository supplier who is not yet on the DPS, please do encourage them to apply.

If you have any queries, please contact

RDM Services workshop

Jisc are collaborating on a workshop on delivering research data services that will explore procurement issues and open source business models.:

The workshop plans to address questions such as:

  • What considerations should be made when assessing service options and selecting delivery methods?
  • Can collective approaches across the scholarly commons community help us invest in sustainable open infrastructure?
  • What steps should be taken to ensure procurement exercises are equally accessible to all providers?

The workshop will run adjacent to the 16th Research Data Alliance plenary in Costa Rica. In order to support international participation, all sessions will take place daily at 20:00-22:00 UTC (GMT).

Attendees can sign up for individual sessions.

We invite attendees to offer lightning talks and case studies on their experiences in procurement, open source software and service partnerships. It would be great if you could attend and possibly contribute a lightning talk or case study, or just feed you experiences into discussion so we can co-develop useful resources on delivering RDM services!

Please visit the website to register: