Evidently Open Access: Reporting Salford’s research with RIOXX

Sabina Rafiq, University of Salford

Our aim is to improve our University systems to improve data capture. Adopting a standardised way of identifying linked data will enable repositories to better link research outputs to research funders, ensuring better compliance with Open Access policies.

With increasing demands from research funders and co-ordinating bodies to make outputs of publically funded research as widely accessible as possible, and subsequent open access policy announcements from Research Councils UK (RCUK), the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the EU Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 open access mandate. Ensuring policy compliance and reporting to funders is now a key priority for institutions.

In responding to these policy announcements institutions are at various stages in terms of defining processes, establishing workflows and relationships. Compliance with the requirements of these policies demands integration not only at an institutional level (between the research and graduate office, current research information systems, library, repository and finance departments), but also requires interoperability between institutional systems and those operated by research funders, such as Researchfish.

Whilst there is a clear need to be able to track research outputs across systems, the reality on the ground is that currently key information about research outputs are not systematically recorded and funders and universities face a challenge in tracking research across systems both at an internal and external level.

Faced with the complexity of the above challenge we have decided on becoming early adopters of the RIOXX metadata profile and associated guidelines.

Without agreed standards in place it is easy for information to be misinterpreted, which in turn inhibits the effective collation and sharing of data across systems,

This is an example of how a simple misunderstanding can lead to an improper interpretation. The word “Amma” means “mother” in Urdu, but “aunt” in Arabic. So an Urdu-speaking person might find it hard to talk to an Arabic-speaking person about the concept of “mother” – unless they can come to a mutual understanding about the meaning of “Amma”.

Shared understanding is the key to standards like RIOXX. Just as in human conversation, unless computer systems agree about the meaning of the data they exchange all sorts of problems can arise – misinterpretation, mistakes, and ultimately malfunction.

However whereas human understanding is often implicit and tacit, a mechanism is required to formally and explicitly define the meaning of concepts and data shared between computer systems. This definition allows each system to expose its own data in a way that can unambiguously understood by other systems, and to likewise be able to interpret the data exposed by other systems.

Enter RIOXX, an application profile – or formal definition of the concepts, policies and guidelines underpinning a computer application – for communicating and exchanging information about research publications: how and where they are published, how they are funded and ultimately how they are made available to the tax-paying general public.

RIOXX will enable us to monitor compliance with our open access policy in a significant way.

Being one of the early adopters of RIOXX we will have an insight in to how effective the RIOXX application will be in allowing data to be collected and how effectively it can support RCUK evidence-based reviews and impact the HEFCE Open Access policy.

Because when it comes to research grants, you don’t want to be overlooked because the funding council confused your mother with your aunt.

I speak both Urdu and Arabic – and soon I will be able to speak RIOXX too!

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