CASRAI UK ‘chapter’ meeting

The inaugural meeting of the ‘UK chapter’ (terminology may change!) of CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information) took place on 10 December in London, convened by CASRAI and JISC. CASRAI collectively develops and maintains a data dictionary for terms used in research information management, in order to ensure that terminology is used consistently across the stakeholder communities and data can therefore be easily exchanged. It also promotes best practice for data exchange and reuse. CASRAI is an international organisation which has grown out of a base in Canada – research isn’t confined to national boundaries.  Strategic partners include JISC, euroCRIS and VIVO.

So the idea is to develop a UK edition of the CASRAI dictionary, which will build on the existing dictionary to include additional lists required by UK research organisations. Some of these may be unique to UK needs but others could be adopted more widely in time. There will therefore be a common core dictionary, with extra layers to meet national needs. Some requirements will also be discipline-specific. The main aim of the meeting was to decide priority areas for the UK, working towards a first release of a UK edition in June 2013. This is an ambitious timescale but work is not starting from scratch – the aim is always to reuse existing terminology work where possible. CASRAI standards are all about harmonisation rather than uniformity or a lowest common denominator approach, which often has limited success.

The CASRAI dictionary is also a very good fit with the CERIF data model, since it provides the missing business agreements which are not covered by CERIF. Some initial work on ‘CERIFying’ the dictionary has already been carried out. However a variety of storage models are possible (eg CERIF, VIVO, LATTES, proprietary) and likewise exchange models (eg CERIF-XML, VIVO-RDF).

A number of priority areas for the UK were identified and scoped during the meeting with the managers of current UK initiatives addressing those areas. The key topics discussed were:

  • Research ethics review: definitions for content of messages indicating ethics application status (the Research Management and Administration System Ethics Extension (RMAS-EE) project funded by JISC will provide key input) – a full ethics review profile would require a lot more effort
  • Data management plans: the DMP Online tool developed by DCC will be a key content resource (work carried out by the CERIF for Datasets project is also relevant; the Research Councils are key stakeholders here)
  • ‘Authoritative lists’
    • Facilities and equipment – the taxonomy developed by the N8 Consortium is being used by others included the Uniquip project
    • Institutions – HESA is the authoritative source for UK institutions but is there a requirement for a consolidated international list?
    • Person names

Profiles for research outcomes and impact were raised as potential UK requirements although this needs further scoping because of time constraints. Open access issues were also highlighted. Some further prioritisation will be needed to ensure an achievable workplan.

The UK CASRAI initiative working alongside the common global harmonisation effort and using the CERIF data model, offers an exciting opportunity to improve the interoperability of research information management systems internationally.

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