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Research information systems at universities and research institutions - Position Paper of DINI AG FIS

Ebert, Barbara; Tobias, Regine; Beucke, Daniel; Bliemeister, Andreas; Friedrichsen, Eiken; Heller, Lambert; Herwig, Sebastian; Jahn, Najko; Kreysing, Matthias; Müller, Daniel; Riechert, Mathias

This is the English translation of a position paper published by the German DINI Working Group on Research Information Systems (DINI AG FIS) in 2015.

Reporting has become a regular part of science at every level. Researchers are required to report to external funding organisations and sponsors. Management needs an overview of the multitude of research information available in order to be able to make sound decisions and compete successfully for equipment and funding. Public accountability, particularly in terms of financing, has also grown in importance over time.

At the same time, universities and research institutions still face major problems when it comes to providing information on research performance. The causes of these problems are often very similar at each institution – distributed data storage without any interfaces, management systems that fail to map research contexts, and limited usability of existing systems when it comes to carrying out differentiated analyses: Specialist and funding databases are managed independently of one another, interfaces and exchange formats simply do not exist, and standardisation options are seldom used when developing such systems.

The development of financeable and functional research information systems and, above all, the exchange of existing information are of equal importance as campus management or suitable HR and finance systems when it comes to IT development in scientific institutions. It is difficult to imagine institutions being able to manage processes requiring manual input and annual data requests in the long term. Reporting requirements are also likely to increase over time.

This position paper describes specific strategic steps that need to be taken in order to develop long-term research reporting information management processes in German research insttutions. Common standards need to be agreed on as they are a prerequisite both for reducing the considerable amount of work required to run systems and for enabling mobile researchers to transfer their portfolio to various applications and different research institutions. The working group also devised specific practical tips on designing, choosing, introducing and running a system as well as advice with regard to project management. These tips and advice are aimed at institutions wishing to introduce or develop a research information system.

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