euroCRIS Membership Meeting, Madrid
Rosemary Russell and Brigitte Jörg report on the bi-annual euroCRIS membership and Task Groups meetings which took place in Madrid on 5-6 November 2012.
euroCRIS membership meetings  are held twice a year, providing members and invited participants with updates on strategic and Task Group progress and plans, as well as the opportunity to share experience of Current Research Information System (CRIS)-related developments and seek feedback. A CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) tutorial is usually included on the first morning for those new to the standard, and the host country reports on local CRIS initiatives in the ‘national’ session. Members are invited to contribute presentations in the ‘Jostein Hauge’ session (named after the founder of euroCRIS).
For this meeting, there was also a focus on the topic of identifiers, inspired by the ongoing developments surrounding the ORCID initiative and its launch on 17 October 2012. euroCRIS now aims to collocate Task Group meetings with membership meetings, so the second day in Madrid consisted of parallel Task Group sessions, which were open to all interested in the topic.
euroCRIS ‘Business’ Reports
This was the last membership meeting to be chaired by Keith Jeffery, stepping down as euroCRIS President after 10 years. A new board was elected in October 2012, with four new members (two of whom are now UK-based). Ed Simons will be the new President, with effect from January 2013. 11 different countries are represented on the Board - 10 members are European and one is Canadian. This is therefore likely to be a time of change for euroCRIS. Fundraising is recognised as a task for the new treasurer, in order to support further activities. One planned task that can be supported now is a test database to check CERIF compatibility.
Overall euroCRIS membership is growing at an encouraging 15% per year, which was reflected in the Madrid meeting attendance figures: there were 80 registered participants this time, the largest meeting to date. There are now members in 43 countries, a significant distribution.
Residencia de Estudiantes, historic cultural
centre, and location of the euroCRIS meeting
CERIF Promotion Strategies: UK ‘an example to follow’
The promotion of CERIF is clearly the most important strategic issue for euroCRIS, in order to increase take-up internationally.
It was particularly interesting that Anne Asserson, outgoing Board member for Strategy/External Relations, highlighted the take-up of CERIF in the UK as a ‘breakthrough’ for the standard. Its widespread UK implementation is therefore of key strategic importance for euroCRIS. The key role played by JISC in kick-starting and supporting implementation was cited as an example to follow internationally. JISC’s funding of lots of small projects is recognised as one of the important factors contributing to the overall big impact. At euroCRIS meetings other countries have regularly expressed a degree of envy at the support for the innovative CERIF CRIS work that has been available in the UK via the JISC Research Information Management (RIM) programme.
Reflecting the large number of CERIF CRIS UK implementations, the UK has by far the largest number of members in euroCRIS: 25 institutional members (Germany is next with 13). As a result of the large body of interest, CERIF/CRIS events organised in the UK by the Innovation Support Centre (ISC), UKOLN , and the JISC CERIF in Action Project  during 2012 have been oversubscribed. There is a large, active and growing community of users which requires ongoing co-ordination, support and development to capitalise on the significant achievements already realised.
Initiatives and Alliances
euroCRIS involvement in three current EU projects (EuroRIs-Net+, OpenAIREPlus and ENGAGE) is a major achievement and very important for recognition of the standard, in addition to the funding aspect. Conversely, the lack of EU funding for euroCRIS infrastructure is seen as something of a disappointment (comparison was drawn with significant US funding for the VIVO infrastructure).
Keith Jeffery, President of euroCRIS and Alicia Lopez Medina, Executive Director of COAR sign the Memorandum of Understanding
Strategic partnerships are also continuing to grow in number: in addition to recent new partners VIVO and the European Alliance for the Social Sciences and Humanities (EASSH), an agreement with COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) was signed during the meeting on 6 November 2012. This recognised the importance of the join-up between CRIS and repositories. Joint work is planned between the euroCRIS CRIS-IR Task Group and COAR’s working group on interoperability.
With interest in CERIF CRIS growing at many levels, euroCRIS events are attracting increasing numbers of delegates: CRIS 2012 in Prague this year was the largest conference to date and the annual seminar series in Brussels continues to be successful.
Full Task Group reports are available via euroCRIS. This section presents some highlights only.
Indicators Task Group Launch
The new Indicators Task Group was introduced by Keith Jeffery. The group will take forward a programme of research and generation of best practice (linked with the Best Practice/DRIS TG) in the use of indicators (scientometrics, bibliometrics) for evaluating research. A likely output is CERIF-compliant software services. Funding proposals to the EU and other agencies are expected.
Task Group meetings in progress
Directory of Research Information Systems (DRIS)
An application to support a Directory of Research Information Systems (DRIS) has been developed by the Best Practice/DRIS Task Group. It incorporates bits of CERIF behind the scenes. This is intended as a first ‘basic’ version, which will be extended in future, for example as a Linked Open Data registry. An automated interface to support easier updating was also suggested. The DRIS could in future be the basis for a portal to heterogeneous CRIS. The forms to capture structured information to populate the Directory were demonstrated. euroCRIS members are being asked to input their own CRIS details as test cases, before it goes live to the wider community. The Directory will provide a view of the CRIS landscape, and potentially facilitate interoperability.
CERIF Task Group
The formal CERIF 1.5 files have been available since July 2012; additional specification and example documents are added continuously. Those currently in preparation include the new federated identifiers feature (more below), multiple structured person names, and an extensive vocabulary (including contributions from RMAS (UK), CIA (UK), CASRAI (CA), MERIL (EU), VIVO (US)). Looking towards CERIF 2.0, Task Group work is very likely to extend the description of research data and corresponding vocabularies, as well as vocabularies for research infrastructure. In parallel, items are continuously discussed with respect to model ‘cleaning’ towards CERIF 2.0. These include what to do about Dublin Core within the CERIF model and whether the Semantic Layer would be a better location for language, country and currency descriptions.
Another aim is to use a consistent CERIF mapping format (syntax) – see next section. Meanwhile there are mapping exercises with REF, ROS and Research Fish (GtR) in the UK, ENGAGE EuroRIs-Net+, CASRAI and VIVO.
Linked Open Data
The recently established Linked Open Data (LOD) Task Group has initiated a joint euroCRIS / VIVO paper with a first mapping of VIVO and CERIF at the CERIF model level. In a joint meeting of the CERIF and LOD TGs in Madrid (with the participation of VIVO), a further step was taken towards more formal mapping. CERIF-LOD are an RDF expression of CERIF. The more formal mapping is working towards automated transformation scripts between different models, that is, for example, CERIF relational to the VIVO ontology. The work will be published shortly in the euroCRIS domain. A first draft of a CERIF expression in RDF has been developed within the EU-funded VOA3R Project.
The recently released CERIF 1.5 was presented in the tutorial. In a break from tradition, Jan Dvo?ák, CERIF Task Group Deputy Lead replaced Brigitte Jörg, Task Group Leader, who had just flown in from presenting CERIF / euroCRIS at the CODATA conference in Taipei. Jan covered the CERIF model structure with its different entity types, the Semantic Layer, plus more recent features such as measures and indicators (based on work carried out by the JISC MICE  and CERIFy  projects, and incorporated into CERIF) and federated identifiers to permit, for example, linkage with other CRIS and non-CRIS systems. The final slide addressed ‘what makes CERIF shine’ (examples included: reference rather than copy, versatile semantic layer, time-based relationships). The 53 slides available from the tutorial reflect Jan’s assertion that the model is ‘not complex but it is large…’
Spanish National Session
Pablo de Castro, local organiser of the meeting, firstly presented an overview of the state of the art of CRIS implementation and integration with open access repositories in Spain. No systems in Spain are currently CERIF-compliant. Institutions use a wide range of CRIS solutions (mainly developed within Spain). Much of the activity has been concentrated in Catalonia. This contrasts with the situation in the Netherlands (where just one system – METIS – is used) and the UK (where most institutions use one of three systems – Pure, CONVERIS or Symplectic Elements); co-ordination is therefore more difficult. However Pablo and others at the meeting have already initiated discussions on CRIS/IR integration, which are ongoing.
As an illustration, Consol García from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya reported on the successful integration of their CRIS with the institutional repository, with a range of benefits for both the research community (eg visibility, preservation) and the library (increased deposit of documents, new services).
SICA is a centralised CRIS for the region of Andalucia, providing CV services for a large research community, as well as information for research administrators. SICA also links to Reposit-AN, the Andalucian regional open access repository. The Andalucia region is a member of COAR.
The CVN (Normalised Curriculum Vitae) Project  provided a focus for several of the presentations as well as ensuing discussions on working towards CERIF adoption in Spain. CVN is managed by FECYT, the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (which also supports digital repositories infrastructure). CVN provides a format to capture standardised CV information in order to exchange data across different research information systems. Some issues related to the aggregation of data are still being addressed – all items within a CV need a unique identifier. Work is being carried out on which person identifier to use.
Miguel-Angel Sicilia from the University of Alcalá and Task Group Leader for Linked Open Data presented CVN to CERIF . This is a prototype tool which extracts data from CVN-XML files and stores it in a CERIF-compliant database. The first prototype has mapped a limited data set to CERIF entities, including person, organisation and project data. A further facility has also been developed to allow the data to be exposed as Linked Open Data.
The SIGMA Consortium which develops the ARGOS CRIS also presented their approach to moving towards CERIF, via the national CVN standard. Some initial SIGMA work to compare ARGOS and CVN with the CERIF data model has revealed that mapping to the majority of CERIF entities is possible. However it was pointed out that one-to-one matches between CVN and CERIF are not possible. SIGMA also highlighted the fact that only 22% of researchers are currently represented in CVN, although a forthcoming research funding requirement means that there should in theory be 100% coverage in future.
Netherlands Research Landscape Visualisations
Some very striking visualisations of the Dutch research landscape were presented by Elly Dijk from DANS (see below). NARCIS  is a national portal providing access to information about researchers and their work, including ‘enhanced publications’. The aim of the project was to visualise the data in NARCIS in order to provide a useful overview of the contents. Resources used to develop the visualisations included NARCIS data (researchers, institutions, classification trees), the Science of Science (Sci2) tool for data analysis and layout, Gephi for node and edge rendering and Adobe Illustrator for the final design.
Central visualisation: Network of 8,156 professors in 14 universities by co-affiliation
New RIM Initiatives in Germany
In Germany a Research Information Systems working group (AG FIS) has just been set up within DINI, the German Initiative for Network Information . It will work in co-operation with euroCRIS. Barbara Ebert (Leuphana University and euroCRIS board member) is co-speaker for the group. It resulted from a DINI workshop held in November 2011 which has kick-started a number of research information management initiatives in Germany. These initiatives recognised the need to support the increasing numbers of CRIS and CRIS-like implementations and to liaise with European activities to standardise and exchange data (euroCRIS, OpenAIRE, etc). The group’s aims therefore include making recommendations and promoting best practice for CRIS systems in universities and research institutions. UK RIM activities were presented to the DINI working group during their foundation meeting and also at the workshop in November 2011.
The first workshop to be organised by the group will address standards and exchange formats for research information and will be held in January 2013 in Bielefeld .
In response to these combined initiatives, it is notable that between March and November 2012 the number of German institutions with membership of euroCRIS jumped from 10 to 15.
CINECA and CERIF in Italy
Three Italian research organisations have recently been merged into CINECA . Planning to implement CERIF using open source software is already underway in the new organisation. It is envisaged that this will bring 100 Italian research institutions into euroCRIS.
CERIF Federated Identifier
A special topic session on identifiers was held on the first day, a subject which continues to challenge many communities. Brigitte Jörg explained how the CERIF 1.5 model supports the incorporation and maintenance of persistent identifiers. The latest release includes a new ‘federated identifier’ entity, which allows linkage to external records or systems. In fact this enables the opening up of CRIS systems, that is, the formal interconnection of a CRIS record with an outside record. For example, in a CRIS system, a person can maintain multiple IDs (eg an ORCID, DAI, ResearcherID, Staff-ID, etc) . These identifier types are managed through the CERIF vocabulary (where UUIDs are recommended) and are provided with defined vocabulary terms.
The Dialnet portal to Spanish journals is not CERIF-compliant, but offers author disambiguation and claims to be ‘the largest and more exhaustive Spanish researchers database identified by a persistent id’.
ORCID Launched and In Use
As a member of the ORCID  Outreach Working Group, Consol García presented the ORCID service in the light of its recent launch in October. ORCID provides a ‘registry of persistent unique identifiers for researchers and scholars and automating linkages to research objects such as publications, grants, and patents’. A key aim is to support researcher disambiguation (probably by next year), although the first priority is to build the community. Anyone can create an ORCID record free of charge, link the ID to other identifier schemes and enhance it with information on research activities. Institutions can opt to pay a fee and join as members, which allows them to create ORCIDs on behalf of employees, although the ID does not become public until it is endorsed by the researcher. Two weeks after the launch there were 8,395 registered users; at the time of writing one month post-launch, over 20,000 ORCID IDs have been issued. AVEDAS, Elsevier and Symplectic all participated in the Launch Partners programme; only one university was a partner (Boston) although other universities have been involved, as well as the JISC Names Project .
Pablo de Castro suggested that institutions with a CRIS are in a better position to implement ORCID, especially if it is CERIF-based. Institutional repositories could be an alternative for ORCID implementation if there is no CRIS.
Snowball Metrics: Recipe Book Launched
Snowball Metrics  originated in a JISC-funded research information management study carried out by Imperial College and Elsevier. Key drivers included frustration with the available tools and lack of standard metrics. There was clear recognition of need for an agreed set of metrics across all research organisations that was suitable for institutions and not imposed. Eight UK universities worked with Elsevier to reach consensus on a set of metrics. Elsevier played a supporting role, including feasibility testing; the metrics are owned by the institutions and the framework can be adopted by any other organisation. Hard copies of the new ‘Recipe Book’ (also available online) were distributed at the meeting. Development of CERIF compliance is underway; an accompanying set of vocabularies will also need to be developed. Other standards could also be incorporated; the longer-term vision is for Snowball Metrics to be global. It is acknowledged that sensitivity of data is a big issue. Feedback on any aspect of the metrics is currently being sought.
CERIF Support Project: New Blog
The CERIF Support blog  has been set up to support CERIF activities in the UK and beyond. The aim is to have short, regular posts that contribute to the understanding of CERIF, providing a variety of perspectives. They can then be used for guidance and as a form of reference, and will, it is hoped, contribute to consistency with implementation. There will also be invited guest posts to extend the reach of the blog a little further, so - stay tuned.
The Madrid meeting saw the launch of several new initiatives, adding to the already numerous activities and further broadening the CERIF CRIS community. The influence of the UK JISC RIM projects on raising the CERIF CRIS profile and increasing interest and uptake beyond the UK was highlighted several times during the meeting. This momentum should be harnessed and supported. The number of new euroCRIS strategic and working partnerships being set up within Europe and beyond is encouraging. euroCRIS and CERIF have grown hugely in the last ten years and look set to continue.
The next membership meeting will be held on 13-14 May 2013 at Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) in Bonn, Germany.
We would like to thank Dr Barbara Ebert of Leuphana Universität Lüneburg for her kind permission to reuse some of her photos of the event.
- euroCRIS membership meetings http://www.eurocris.org/Index.php?page=members_meetings&t=1
- Rosemary Russell. "JISC Research Information Management: CERIF Workshop". July 2012, Ariadne Issue 69 http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue69/jisc-rim-cerif-rpt
- CIA London workshop, 19 October 2012
- MICE: Measuring Impact under CERIF http://mice.cerch.kcl.ac.uk/
- CERIFy http://cerify.ukoln.ac.uk/
- CVN Project https://cvn.fecyt.es/
- CVN to CERIF https://github.com/ieru/cvn2cerif
- NARCIS http://www.narcis.nl/
- Research Information Systems Working Group (AG FIS) http://www.dini.de/ag/fis/
- Standards und Harmonisierungsansätze für die Forschungsberichterstattung, Bielefeld, 21- 23 January 2013 http://www.dini.de/veranstaltungen/workshops/fisberichte/programm/
- CINECA http://www.cineca.it/
- B. Jörg, T. Höllrigl, M.A. Sicilia, “Entities and Identities in Research Information Systems” In Proceedings: CRIS 2012 http://eprints.rclis.org/handle/10760/17176
- ORCID http://about.orcid.org/
- JISC Names Project http://names.mimas.ac.uk/
- Snowball Metrics http://www.snowballmetrics.com/
- The CERIF Support blog http://www.cerifsupport.org
Innovation Support Centre
University of Bath
Web site: http://isc.ukoln.ac.uk/
Rosemary Russell is a Research Officer within the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN. Her current work focuses on Research Information Management (RIM) and the provision of support, advice, synthesis and evaluation for the JISC RIM programme. Rosemary participates in euroCRIS activities and is a member of the Best Practice Task Group. She also has an interest in institutional repository management and the integration of repositories and CRIS.
CERIF Support Project - National Co-ordinator
Innovation Support Centre
University of Bath
Web site: http://isc.ukoln.ac.uk/work/csp
Brigitte Jörg fulfils the role of CERIF National Co-ordinator with the JISC Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN. Her current work focuses on co-ordination and support of ongoing Research Information Management (RIM) activity. Since 2005, Brigitte has been a member of the euroCRIS Board and leads the CERIF task group. She is interested in developing international relationships and joint initiatives.