Case Study: University of Dundee

Scenario 3: CRIS with integrated repository and public portal

Scenario 3 section


Dundee became an independent University in 1967 following a 70 year relationship with the University of St Andrews. The University’s origins date back to 1881 when University College, Dundee was founded. The University is made up of four Colleges:

  • Art & Design, Architecture, Engineering and Physical Sciences
  • Arts and Social Sciences
  • Life Sciences
  • Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing

The university has more than doubled in size since 1994. It is a key driver of the V&A at Dundee project, which aims to develop a new centre of 21st century design for Scotland at the heart of Dundee’s waterfront.

Research information management strategy

  • To replace time-consuming manual methods of bringing together information on research activity and outputs with an integrated Research Information System and repository
  • To engage researchers actively in the process, while minimising the amount of information they have to enter
  • To align library resources and activity to put greater emphasis on supporting research; the library was restructured 2 years ago into 3 teams, one of which is focused on supporting systems and research

History of the repository

Dundee was quite late to establishing a repository, in 2010. The decision was taken to adopt the DSpace platform, but to make extensive customisations, without jeopardising interoperability. Theses are included in the repository, but not learning materials.

Among the drivers for the repository were to provide an outlet for all researchers to make their research accessible – while medical and life sciences academics have UKPubMed, for example, there is nothing for the creative arts.

The Library decided to implement a mediated model of deposit which would keep the effort required from researchers down. Partly in order to ensure this was manageable, the repository work is spread among a large number of library staff rather than being concentrated in a small repository team.

The Research Information System: buy or build?

The process of managing research information at Dundee was fragmented between the standard management information systems, such as finance, grants and awards, HR etc. and publications databases. These were local, some held in EndNote, some in more sophisticated systems built by departments themselves. In medicine and life sciences, they had managed to import data from Scopus and Web of Science, but not in humanities.

The Library always planned that the repository would be an integral part of the research management infrastructure, but the expectation was that this would be built in-house. However, when the options were examined in more detail, the attractions of purchasing a CRIS became more apparent.

Advantages of buying

  • One central system for everything; a single platform makes it much easier to provide support
  • Other Scottish universities were buying the PURE system which increased the possibilities of a more integrated and collaborative approach, like Norway and Denmark, where data is shared
  • A recent Research Information Network (RIN) report estimated that a university with a good fully functioning CRIS can get the information needed for the REF together in about 3 days, compared to about a year for those without. Such a straightforward process means that REF type exercises could be managed every 6 months or so, and feed back given to researchers and departments

Using the PURE portal as the open access repository

A number of universities have acquired the PURE system but have decided to retain their repositories and build links between them. In this type of set-up, PURE acts as the research publications management system, with DSpace as the OA repository.

Dundee has decided to have PURE as the internal CRIS system which feeds the PURE portal, which will be used as the OA repository (this seems to be what is done in Norway and Denmark). This decision was taken because:

  • They looked into the functionality and found there was very little that could not be done in PURE compared with running Dspace
  • PURE has very simple and clear user interfaces
  • It is more efficient to work with one system and model than two

Looking ahead

It is very early days in the implementation of PURE. There are a number of enhancements that are needed and being worked on with the company:


The Library plans to have theses submitted via the PURE portal too (through an external log in rater than the internal CRIS). Theses will then be linked to the workflow of supervisors and to projects in a way they aren’t currently in Dspace. Dundee is working with PURE on developing a theses module for the UK market as up to now they haven’t sold it here, and the module for other countries is not suitable.

Arts outputs

Dundee will be the first PURE installation in the UK with an art school and it is very important to ensure that outputs can be properly captured in the system and also properly displayed, for example by good image rendering, which requires extensions to PURE. A colleague has been involved in the KULTUR project, so is able to bring those outcomes to bear on the PURE implementation.

Search and discovery

The library is very keen on ensuring the repository contents are as visible as possible, including to next-generation discovery services such as Summon.

One Response to Case Study: University of Dundee

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