CRIS2006: Enabling Interaction and Quality: Beyond the Hanseatic League
This conference marked the 15th anniversary of euroCRIS. In 1991 current research information systems were housed on mainframe computers and mainly used for administrative report purposes. CRIS (Current Research Information Systems) now supply data for research management and assessment on a local and national scale, and are at the core of optimal presentation of research information itself. In keeping with the Hanseatic traditions of Bergen, research information traders gathered from the known world to share and improve their practice.
Rune Nilsen, Professor, previous Pro Rector, University of Bergen, welcomed us. He conveyed a passion for sharing information (especially with the Third World), feeling that knowledge and the natural landscape have a lot in common in that Norway considers them both as conducive to the public good. He spoke of the potential threats of capital and competitive market forces, ignorance among researchers wanting to make money, and conservatism. We all face the 10/90 dilemma: Rune cited the example of only 10 percent of research funds in health being spent on 90 percent of the world's major health problems. There are piles of publications which are not readily available, and African universities cannot afford the subscriptions. Fortunately there are success stories - the Ethiopian Journal of Health Development moved from a "closed" readership of 200 subscribers to an "Open Access" journal showing heavy citation and good index ratings. It would be good for all researchers, vice-chancellors and practitioners in general to remember the chief goals of research : excellence, availability, academic impact, and academic relevance.
Keith Jeffery, President of euroCRIS, explained that euroCRIS holds custodianship of CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) which should be used to leverage for a one-stop portal or gateway to common CRIS. Indeed CERIF is now the mandated format for EU interchange of research information, so all CRIS need to be made CERIF-aware.
Stefan Hornbostel, IFQ (Institute for Research Information and Quality Assurance), Bonn, delivered the keynote address  saying that traditionally interest is on the input side (peer review) rather than the output side. Scientific disciplines are moving towards being output-controlled, yet quantity of evaluation is rising while there are no longer sufficient peers to monitor quality rigorously.
He then outlined the inherent problems with evaluation, even post-Science Citation Index, and how research statistics varied in purpose and vocabulary. As professors refuse to participate in evaluations, CRIS have gaps. There will also be the same problem with repositories. Researchers need motivation, universities need to be flexible and CRIS need networking. Due to the number of push-and-pull demands, systems need to be able to repurpose information for playing more than one game.
The conference also provided space for the following posters:
- NARCIS, Elly Dijk, a simple portal interface in the Netherlands . METIS (university research management system) acts as a data provider. This team is investigating the use of Digital Author Identifiers to identify authors uniquely.
- IST World, Brigitte Joerg, a European RTD information and service portal (Lubijana)  that should be ready for Framework 7. Of course, the resultant analytics are only as good as the data. Content comes from CORDIS, domain-specific portals, Google Scholar, Web crawling, as well as partner repositories.
- CISTRANA IST, Simon Lambert, a portal of co-ordination action and research activities in IST . This provides a geographical entry into the portal and presents comparability of IST funding through national programmes. It has interesting analysis options, including collaboration intensity metrics to identify potential partners.
- New Application Technologies in CRIS, Keith Harmon, these are the SAP solutions for CRIS. While Keith is not a researcher he was involved in producing a Grants Management System.
- HunCRIS, Adam Tichy-Racs, the Hungarian national research registry  using CERIF for a national research information system.
- FRIDA, Yamuna Vallipuram, an integrated research environment populated by bibliographic data feeds from ISI and Norart . Implemented in Java and Web service technology. Actively involves institutions in quality assurance.
Paper Session 1
Elly Dijk provided details of the National Academic Research and Collaborations Information System (NARCIS). NARCIS' goals are to provide an overview of research in the Netherlands, in a central location and minimise administrative work for researchers and institututions. Technically there are some METIS-NARCIS-NWO exchanges and it uses OAI-PMH. Now the focus is on the problem of categorising the content, which is sourced by Web crawlers. Derek Sergeant then moved to looking at research from the researcher's perspective and strategies for supporting the research helix. Continuing from the user side, Sergio Magalhaes explained how Rough Sets Theory could be used to find relevant CVs with probabilistic disambiguation.
Workshop: On the Way from Research Information to Research Management Systems: What Are the Needs for Universities?
This workshop in parallel with paper session 2, introduced by Wolfgang Adamczak (Kassel), remarked that CRISs should not be solely about documentation - they should also be planning systems. CRIS would not substitute for policy! The needs of universities were raised, and the dividing line appears to be methodology rather than domain (hermeneutical versus empirical). What would be incentives to motivate researchers to fill in forms in CRIS? This was answered in part by automating where possible and making forms shorter and clearer. Next Inge Wullaert and Herlinde Leemans demonstrated the Belgian Anemoon Project built on top of their SAP system. Finally Stefan Graadman then introduced research continuum management and speculated about whether a Big Machine had a larger total cost of ownership than a federated implementation.
The Mayor of Bergen, Herman Friele, opened the day. This was followed by a keynote from Stevan Harnad, championing self archiving, and showing graphs and charts indicating that institutional mandates were the only way of improving repository coverage. Of the 24,000 peer-reviewed journals, only 9000 have a policy articulated in the SHERPA/RoMEO list of publisher copyright policies. This triggered an exchange as to whether there were options other than for effective gathering of research papers.
Neil Jacobs explored the question as to why the UK had no CRIS. The research funding structure played an important part. Using a scientific life cycle approach, he identified the potential benefits of using a more structured approach using the CERIF (Common European Research Information Format) standard. The CERIF model was also picked up by Roberto Pacheco. There was potential for collaboration between the European CERIF-based projects and the mainly Latin American ScienTI Network.
This session saw Mark Oskam looking at a profile management system, and ways of fleshing out the profile. The incentive for this was the generation of a euroCV for researchers. Getting the most out of the institutional repository in a reactive university, without a traditional CRIS culture, was presented by Jessie Hey. This talk also gave some insight into the 'metadata quality' issue when research assessment was beginning to play a bigger part. Elin Stangeland and Marianne Moes' paper reported on the real progress made in Norway in establishing institutional repository services, while only at the half-way stage of the nora Project. The Norwegian Science Index was chosen as the standard for subject indexing. Jing Ma described the Internet-based Scientific Information System supporting a staggering group of over 1800 institutions. It was noted that in China national standards and processes have been developed to share information on research.
Workshop: Enriching CRISs through OA Repositories
This workshop suggested that an institutional repository was a partial CRIS. Raf Dekeyser pointed out that repositories cover publications and people. CRIS needed a model for interoperability. Herlinde Leemans presented thoughts on moving from an academic bibliography to a DSpace instance - chosen for its Web user interface. Peter Millington talked about enhancing a database to help administrators formulate policies (OpenDOAR). The bX project (Frank Scholze) can be used to aggregate and analyse scholarly usage data.
Juergen Guedler's paper focused on the progress made in developing a CRIS as an effective management tool in the German Research Foundation (DFG). By contrast, another German paper concentrated on bibliometric evaluation of publications in the medical sphere by integrating the Medline database. The application-service-provider (ASP) approach had the bonus of requiring no local software installation.
The day commenced with an overview of a portal for 'Project Intelligence' from Brigitte Joerg which included some interesting visualisations. Simon Lambert framed the problem of barriers to co-ordination in Europe through the CISTRANA system. Keith Jeffery finished with the proposal that the deposit of publications should happen at a much earlier stage - within the CRIS - rather than within the institutional repository.
Conclusion and Final Panel Session
It was evident that there had to be guarantees that research would see a reduction in both overheads and the amount of bureaucracy. CRIS must adapt to the disciplines that they support. Mandating of research paper archiving was pushed very strongly, yet it was also perceived that a correlation does not necessarily exist between citation and good scientific progress.
Is there a future for ISI? Probably not. As to the proposal to encourage deposit of electronic publications into CRIS in the first instance, one might also argue that this may be more effective in a more regimented non-self-archiving environment than in the less structured environment of many UK universities. Perhaps we will see a mixture of models evolving. Certainly this community has embraced Open Access and its related OAI standards over this conference and the last. The next international CRIS conference, in 2 years' time, might give an opportunity to judge whether Keith Jeffery's proposal of CRIS working closely with OAI (and encouraging deposit of publications) has taken off.
All in all, the conference was inspiring, as was the natural landscape that introduced the theme, typified by the view from Mount Fløyen over the fjords. There were many systems in place across Europe and the globe from which we are all keen to learn. Without doubt the meeting of the research information system community and the institutional repository/research environment community was illuminating for all concerned.
We are grateful to Neil Jacobs, JISC Executive, for his comments and contributions to this report.
- Hornbostel, S., Keynote http://ct.eurocris.org/CRIS2006/upload/paper_hornbostel.doc
- NARCIS portal http://www.narcis.info
- IST World EU project http://ist-world.dfki.de
- CISTRANA EU project http://www.cistrana.org
- HunCRIS http://www.info.omikk.bme.hu/nkr1/HunCRIS_eng.htm
- FRIDA http://www.uio.no/english/research/frida/