The vendors operating in this space do not describe their offerings in exactly the same way, though in practice, institutions understand that even if these systems exhibit variations, they represent the main options when considering procuring a system from an external supplier, rather than building it in-house. For factors in making that decision, see Approaches to integration section.
A fairly neutral term is Research Information Management (RIM) system, though the term Current Research Information System (CRIS) has become widely used in recent years. The terms Research Publications Management System (RPMS) and Research Management and Administration System (RMAS) tend to denote systems which manage different ends of the process but may be linked.
A good overall description of RIM systems is provided by Michael Day of UKOLN:
“Research information management (RIM) systems are essentially databases that are designed to help institutions manage the entire research process from initial funding opportunities through to the completion of projects, and the supply of information for research assessment. Information is gathered about many different things, including funding streams, people, as well as research outputs – typically publications, although they could conceivably comprise any tangible artefact of research activity. RIM systems typically derive information from a number of other institutional systems, including finance, human resources, student records and databases specifically developed to support research assessment – a key driver of RIM system development. Because of their mainly institutional focus, many RIM systems have been developed in-house, although there is now a growing market for commercial solutions. The data standards used by institutions tend to differ depending on institutional requirements, but there is a degree of high-level convergence on the CERIF (Common European Research Information Format), especially where such information needs to be shared with national or international initiatives.”
Atira A/S is a Danish company, founded in 2002, and currently employs 27 full time staff. It is a software company with a number of solutions for knowledge-intensive organisations in education, research and the pharmaceutical industry.
One of its most important products is Pure, a research information system which has been installed at a number of universities and research institutes across the UK and Europe; Atira is also involved in national research information systems in several countries. It is a member of EuroCRIS and ARMA.
Pure is a fully-featured research management system, which has a number of modules covering everything from pre-award to public dissemination of the research outputs, including a CV module for creating customised CVs.
The system assigns roles to users, which then give each category of user certain rights within the system. This role also conditions what a particular user sees. Standard workflows for different activities are built in to Pure but can also be customised.
Pure has an Integration Platform for exchanging or "synchronising" data with other systems. Such data exchange is dynamic – when something changes on the other system it will be reflected in Pure. Integrations can be two-way, but this is rare. The integration platform is also used for authentication of users with local systems such as LDAPs and Active Directories or through organisations’ single sign-on systems.
Pure is almost always integrated with HR systems for retrieving information about people and organisations. It is frequently integrated with:
- Financial systems for retrieving budgets or actual spending for research projects
- Student administration systems
- Grant management systems
It pulls in bibliometric and bibliographic data from Scopus, Web of Science (depending on organisational licences), PubMed, ArXiv etc.
Pure can hold the full-text of research outputs within the system (including audio, video and other non-text file types), and make it available through its Pure Portal module or through the organisation’s website. Alternatively, Pure can be integrated with existing repositories based on DSpace, EPrints or Fedora. It has also integrated data from Sherpa-Romeo to help depositors with copyright issues.
Pure is fully CERIF-compliant.
According to Atira’s website, all installations use Pure as a fully-featured CRIS, with none using only limited functionality.
Client base (UK)
- Lancaster University
- University of Hertfordshire
- University of Strathclyde
- Royal Holloway, University of London
- University of York
- University of Aberdeen
- University of St Andrews
Universities in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Belgium and Germany also use Pure.
Avedas is an international company specialising in the development of current research information systems and in the handling of research data from various sources. It was founded in 2004 in Germany and is privately owned by its founders and employees.
Its core product is the research information system Converis, which is used by higher education institutions and funding agencies for collecting and managing data through the entire research life cycle.
Converis is marketed as a CRIS. It provides a structured overview of the institution’s research activities and results through integrating information on projects, grants and awards, and publications. It pulls in information from institutional systems such as HR and finance and generates reports on projects, bibliometrics, and research performance, including impact analyses. It has a REF module. It also supports dissemination of information about research activities and outputs themselves as well as allowing the creation of CVs within the system. It pulls in information from bibliometric databases such as Web of Science and SCOPUS as well as subject repositories.
It has a CERIF-compatible data model.
The Public web module is a portal that gives public access online to selected parts of the information in the system. Converis is configurable to determine which information on publications, projects etc. should be displayed publicly. The researcher decides on a case-by-case basis which information to publish. However, Converis also integrates with repositories based on DSpace, EPrints and Fedora.
Being modular, it is possible to implement the publications module first and then build out from there by integrating with other institutional systems.
Client base (UK)
- Cranfield University
- University of Hull
- University of Stirling
Avedas also has a number of Converis clients in Europe (mainly in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands).
Symplectic was founded at Imperial College in 2003 by four PhD students and developed its system there. It was originally focused on being a research publications management system but has broadened its scope.
Symplectic’s core system is called Elements. The system pulls in data from external databases such as Web of Science (which must be licensed to the institution), and alerts researchers to new publications allowing them to review and approve them as their own. Resulting authoritative lists of publications can be used to update web pages (with more sophisticated website management through its Content Management System) as well as assisting with grant applications, with very little manual input from researchers. Symplectic estimates that in the STEM disciplines, researchers would only have to enter a maximum of 10% of publications data manually. Research performance can be tracked through statistical reports on publications, impact factor and citations, making research assessment exercises much easier.
It is now CERIF compliant, facilitating integration with other systems in the institution and potentially developing it into the core of a more fully-featured research information management system, linking together information on projects, professional activities, equipment and grants as well as publications.
It has also developed a module, Repository Tools, for integrating repositories. It allows researchers to locate and upload the full text of their publication into the repository via the Symplectic interface, and to check copyright status through the integration of Sherpa-Romeo information. It supports the major repository platforms.
Symplectic does not market itself as a CRIS and anecdotally it appears that some institutions are treating it more as a central publications database and perhaps not using its features to the fullest extent, or at least presenting it to researcher s as primarily a publications database. But in a further indication of its intention to widen its scope, Symplectic announced a partnership with InfoEd in early 2011, which will result in the integration of InfoEd’s research administration system with Elements, so that customers of both can access Symplectic via InfoEd without having to bear the costs of integrating the systems on an in-house basis.
Symplectic does not provide a list of customers on its website, so this is not necessarily complete.
- Imperial College, London
- University of Leeds
- Queen Mary University of London
- University of Exeter/University of Plymouth – shared service
- University of Keele
- Oxford (currently deployed in STEM disciplines but piloted in other faculties and intended to be universal).Integration with the repository is planned.
- Cardiff Medical School