Workshop update

Fantastic news about numbers for the workshop, demonstrating the requirement and interest in the CIA deliverables and exchanging data via CERIF-XML. We are currently looking at alternative locations nearby for the workshop to meet demand … watch this space!

CIA Workshop: London, 19th October 2012

Workshop: Transferring research data to RCUK and other organisations

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Register your interest now for the opportunity to attend our free event on Friday 19th October in London.

Come along and hear about the work we have been doing on exchanging research data via CERIF-XML.

This event will include an overview and demonstration of prototypes to transfer information between organisations such as RCUK (via the Research Outcomes System [ROS]) and other Research Organisations using a standard CERIF format via various Research Information Systems; ultimately saving researchers and central research administrators’ time, allowing them time to concentrate on their core tasks.

The workshop will include discussion as to sustainability of the CERIF-XML model, and will include a short presentation from our RIM3 partner project IRIOS2, with whom we have been working closely to create a standard model for CERIF-XML.

Draft Agenda

CIA Workshop – JISC, Brettenham Woburn House, London (10am – 4pm)
 Time  Item  Introduced by
10:00 Registration (Tea & Coffee)
10:30 Welcome and Introduction, including aims of project and workshop Scott Brander, Project Manager
10:40 Research Information Management – Context Josh Brown (JISC)
10:50 Examples of use cases and demonstrations
  • Rachel Curwen (University of York)
  • Valerie McCutcheon/David McElroy (Glasgow)
  • Juergen Wastl (University of Cambridge)
11:30 Break
11:45 Future direction of ROS and RCUK Dale Heenan (RCUK)
12:15 Survey results (CIA & ROS) & further discussions James Toon, University of Edinburgh
13:00 Lunch
14:00 CERIF and related projects, etc. Brigitte Joerg, euroCRIS/UKOLN
14:30 Brainstorming, roadmap, etc. (Breakouts)  TBC
15:30 Conclusions and closure Anna Clements

How do I get to Brettenham HouseWoburn House?

Please find directions here for the location.

Where will I see outputs from the meeting?

Outputs from the workshop will be posted on this blog.  If you cannot make the event but want to be notified of the report please let us know via

What do I do if I require further information?

If you have any further questions about the content, etc. of the workshop, please contact Scott Brander, Project Manager:

How to I request a place at the workshop?

To request a place please email with your name, organisation, job title, and any dietary requirements. Alternatively, please complete the following form:

Release of CIA survey – please participate

The project has just launched an online survey and we would be grateful if you could participate. The objective of the survey is to conduct a simple “before and after” comparison of institutional processes surrounding the transfer of research activity data by gathering data on the amount of effort required to manage these processes.

As stated elsewhere on the blog, the CERIF standard will be implemented so that information can be easily produced, transferred and used by any other compliant systems. The project is dealing with two use cases:

  • Transferring research activity data for staff moving between institutions; and
  • Uploading data to the RCUK Research Outcomes System (ROS).

This will then be compared with worked examples of information transfer using the new CERIF-XML approach – representing the ‘after’ data. The comparison data form a key part of the roadmap report looking at possible adoption paths for CERIF-XML.

The Use Case 1 survey above is completed anonymously. It contains 8 questions, and should take only a short time to complete and is available at: .

How will the “before and after” data be compared for upload to ROS?

The Use Case 2 assessment will be carried out in conjunction with RCUK as part of a review of early engagement with the Research Outcomes System, and a survey is being distributed concurrently by RCUK at: .

When does the survey close?

The closing date for both surveys will be Friday 21st September.

Can anyone else complete the survey?

Please feel free to distribute these surveys to anyone whom you feel they may be relevant.


Many thanks in advance for your help.

For and on behalf of the project team,

CERIF in Action Update

What are we working on?

  • Finalising the development of the plugins
  • Initiated testing
  • Distributing CERIF in Action (CIA) and Research Outcomes System (ROS) surveys to enable “before and after” comparisons of institutional processes surrounding the transfer of research activity data
  • Organising the final project meeting and workshop, more details of which are to follow.

EPrints support for Cerif in Action

Cerif in Action (CIA) requires support for translating the native system data into and from CERIF 1.4. EPrints has long had excellent support for importing and exporting data based on a system of plugins. These include support for XML and JSON representations, Dublin Core, Bibtex etc.

While EPrints is orientated around publications (“eprint” records) CERIF/CIA requires support for other entities. Within EPrints these might be people, projects and organisations (CERIF covers other things e.g. equipment but I’m not aware of anyone using EPrints to record that data).

Representations of people in EPrints may mean user records (accounts that people log in to) or the names attached to publications as authors, editors or contributors. The concept of a user is distinct from an author e.g. the user may be a secretary who deposits on behalf of faculty, so most of the time a “user” is not going to be exported via CERIF. Instead, the names of authors/editors/contributors are exported. If these have an identifier attached to them it is used to uniquely identify the person.

Projects and organisations are reflected in the EPrints projects and funders publication fields. These have existed for some time but are only free-text fields – that’s how we stored that data in the Southampton EPrints. Like authors, these can be exported in CERIF but only as an anonymous record. The experience gained with CIA will allow us to improve support for projects and organisations (in particular grant numbers!).

As the world seems to be moving towards CRIS-systems, so we want to improve the support for capturing non-publications research data in EPrints. While currently authors, projects and funders are properties of publications, these would instead be represented by first-class objects with their own data schemes. The balancing act to find is between flexible, fuzzy data and strict but more complex data. Schemes like CERIF really want strict data, but conversely we don’t want to confront users with time-consuming submission forms and workflows.

The second, more tricky part of CIA is support within the user interface tools to allow the user or administrator to import and export complex sets of records. The user needs to be able to pick and choose, for both import and export, the records they want. When importing records the system needs to detect existing duplicate records and provide a means for the user to merge/resolve those duplicates.

Because the CERIF export is just another export plugin, users and administrators can use any existing search or view to construct a set of records to export. CIA calls for the ability to pick individual records, which can be achieved by installing the Shelves extension (available on the EPrints Bazaar).

Import is always more complex than export. As part of the CIA activity the EPrints import interface has undergone some re-working. Because CERIF can represent multiples types of object the import has had to be re-worked to support importing multiple object types at the same time. Instead of all-or-nothing the interface now provides a list of objects found in the import, which the user can then pick from. Work is currently ongoing to detect and support merging duplicate objects – not a trivial task.

CIA Workshop: October

Preliminary discussions have taken place as to the format and date of the CERIF in Action workshop.Image More details will follow, but it is envisaged that the workshop will take place in London in October.

A precise agenda has to be drawn up, but is likely to include a direct dissemination of the knowledge gained in the project, live demos of the plugins between systems, recommendations for the future including how the CIA model can be extended, dissemination of the results of the CIA/RCUK surveys, future directions of ROS/RCUK (requirements), and so on.

Welcome Jürgen!

ImageWe are delighted to welcome Dr Jürgen Wastl from the University of Cambridge onto the Steering Group for the CERIF in Action project. Jürgen will be the main testing contact for Symplectic’s plugin.

Open Repositories Conference 2012

We ‘re-used’ our ‘Engage’ poster from the ARMA conference duly updated with additional information for the audience at OR2012.

We got to do a short sales pitch on our poster and I tweeted the link to our blog with the conference hash tag #OR2012 for those interested who could not make the poster reception.

After the two hour poster reception the posters were on display throughout the conference. We provided handouts and information on all of our current JISC projects Cerif for Datasets, Cerif in Action, IRIOS2 and Encapsulate. We ran out of some of them.

I spoke to some – but not all of the 460 or so delegates as well as noting contact details and exchanging information of relevance with other authors of over 60 poster.

There are some very interesting links to all of our projects (see my forthcoming blog entry on C4D, Engage and IRIOS projects for relevant comments).


The RIM CERIF Workshop was an extremely useful and productive event. It could easily have been extended to four days and still not have covered everything.

Discussions included:

  • Introduction of Brigitte Jörg to her new position at UKOLN as CERIF Support Project Coordinator – she will be a very useful resource in coordinating the various projects
  • RIM Support/InfoKit: New developments in InfoKit including updated Case Studies
  • HE Information Landscape Report: Redesigning HE data and possibilities of establishing a single collection agency to act on behalf of all stakeholders, extendign the remit of an existing agency and/or harnessing the collaborative culture that already exists to improve efficiency (or indeed, maintaining the status quo) – didn’t see much mention of research so re-read may be required!
  • ROS: Exciting news re ROS: Fully CERIFied test version of ROS about to become available and UK USer Forum to be established
  • Sustainability: How we maintain the sustainability of projects such as CIA (including extending entities, etc.) … and harvest the information from previous projects
  • Gateway to Research: portal to allow the public access to information (such as who, what and where the Research Councils fund; and the outcomes) on research funded by the UK’s Research Councils
  • Further talk on identifiers and the realisation that organisation identifiers could be even more complicated than person identifiers
  • Institutional repositories, including RepositoryNet+, the aim of which is to create and foster shared infrastructure, both social and technical, that will enable deposit, curation and dissemination of research literature, in line with JISC advocacy for Open Access and visibility of research at universities, including preparation for REF.
  • Useful elevator pitches from all the RIM projects
  • A whirlwind session about information flows now and where they should be in 3 years time – all simplified (except RCs!)
  • A talk on Project Snowball which fostered interest from many parties.
  • Inter-project collaboration: use of JISC wikis (or should other tools be used) and need for greater collaboration between all RIM projects, including completed ones.

Apologies if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to comment!

RIM CERIF Workshop, Bristol 27-28th June 2012: A brief synopsis