March 15, 2018
Adi Alter and Eddie Neuwirth, Ex Libris
The following is one of a series exploring the challenges involved in research management and possible solutions.
In the last post in our series on academic research services, we discussed the complexities of managing the modern research life cycle, including varying groups of institutional stakeholders and the technological workarounds needed to address siloed systems. These complications are further compounded with the need to maintain consistency and visibility across an ever-increasing variety of research assets.
It is increasingly clear that a truly integrated approach to research services management is needed to ensure data coherency, enhance visibility and increase compliance.
Despite these challenges, there is a natural overlap of institutional interests and a desire for greater harmonization, which the advance of technology can help make possible. It is increasingly clear that a truly integrated approach to research services management is needed to ensure data coherency, enhance visibility and increase compliance.
The Ex Libris Research Services Platform, known as Esploro, has been designed around just such a concept. It is structured to integrate and automate common research workflows, improve data management, and provide metrics and benchmarks across multiple activity domains. The Esploro solution addresses key aspects of research services management, including:
Unified System of Records
Unified repositories of research assets, driven by automated resource capture, manual deposits, and metadata enrichment, can overcome academic silos. Such repositories allow for more efficient management of research assets and greater visibility of outputs and data as well as more interactivity, with easy cross-referencing of stored data. This is, in large part, because processes for metadata curation and enrichment are much simpler and consistent when using a unified repository.
An effective research services platform includes a variety of dissemination channels for easy discovery and accessibility. Relevant workflows are structured to ensure compliance with research mandates and policies, including regulatory and institutional requirements. The unified nature of the platform also makes such adherence issues easier to track and measure.
Scholarly Profiles & Funding Opportunities
Due to its integrated approach, a research services platform can make it much easier to keep scholarly profiles updated in institutional research portals and domain-specific hubs. Research outputs and data are linked to the specific researcher, and updates to researcher profiles in the institutional portal are made through the same unified system. Researchers’ domain of activity can be matched to research grants, providing researchers with greater visibility into available funding opportunities and enabling them to secure new grants more easily. This flow of information, as well as the higher visibility of ongoing research and scholarly activities, facilitates comprehensive reporting and better analytics regarding research activities.
As a comprehensive method of organizing the research journey, Esploro uses open integration interfaces for maximum interoperability with the academic ecosystem. Naturally, the ideal infrastructure for such an integrated platform solution, optimizing sustainability, responsiveness and scalability, is collaborative and cloud-based. On-premises solutions, while potentially effective for a time, eventually require more significant investments of time and money to maintain, tailor and upgrade.
Esploro is currently being developed in partnership with five leading academic institutions—the University of Iowa, Lancaster University, the University of Miami, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Sheffield.
In our next post in this series, we will address the question of how a research services platform impacts the role of the academic library and how the library can benefit from such a platform to enhance its role in the research life cycle.