Comparing approaches – research information hub in New Zealand

Notes from the steering group meeting on 11th June 2018

The latest steering group meeting of the Finnish Research Information Hub had a pleasant addition to the agenda, when a visitor outside the Finnish stakeholder group – and outside Finland, joined us. Jackie Fawcett, Principal Advisor of Science and Innovation Trends from New Zealand, introduced us to the  New Zealand’s national research information system NRIS which is currently being developed by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment. The meeting offered us a great opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas about the process of building a national research information system.

The most important goal is to make New Zealand’s research and researchers more visible both to domestic and international audiences. Targets have especially focused on offering a comprehensive overview of the latest developments in research, science and innovation and making it easier to find experts and relevant research results. This goal, as well as reducing the administrative workload of researchers, are similar to what the Finnish national research information hub is pursuing.

Also other similarities between the NRIS and the Finnish research information hub were found. Both of them underline that everyone should benefit from the systems, and shared goals means a lot of work. Moreover, the privacy issues and openness of data has also required a lot of consideration in both countries. Fawcett told that they have been working for quite a long time in defining the concept model so that the organizations can easily integrate data from their systems to the NRIS. In Finland, the model has been developed together with the organizations.

Unlike in Finland, New Zealand doesn’t have separate source system where the information for the hub could be easily retrieved, and therefore they had to start developing the hub from scratch. At the moment, the New Zealand’s hub is ready to receive data from government departments and independent research organizations. By now, they have assembled the existing data to the portal and piloted with a few organizations. The next step will be to gradually expand the hub.

Another approach that was found to differ between the two national hubs was the order of different steps taken in the design path. In New Zealand, the major share of the attention and input was given to the technical model construction over outputs. In Finland, the first step has been to think the needs of the end users, and only then to design the data model and integrate systems, yet these steps are also done simultaneously. At the moment, we are utilizing a service design process to build a portal that would best serve the end users.

In both countries, however, much work still remains to be done. Moreover, besides Finland and New Zealand, many other countries are currently building or have already implemented their own national research information systems. Even though all hubs have their own background, characteristics, and use cases, we can learn from the successes and challenges that others have already experienced. Therefore, it is important that we do not compare to others as competition, but as an asset.

The full memo from the latest steering group meeting can be read from here (in Finnish only).

Links to other national research information systems:

New Zealand: NRIS

Norway: CRISTIN

Sweden: SWECRIS

Portugal: PT-CRIS

The Netherlands: NARCIS

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