Research Councils UK
Streamlining research data reporting
Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils, investing around £3 billion annually in grants covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines. They required a digital platform to help them make reporting on the impact of research easier and more cost effective. Dept teamed up with RCUK to create this digital platform.
Simpler, better reporting
£3 billion is an enormous contribution of taxpayer’s money. The problem for the Research Councils, is having invested this substantial sum in grants of varying sizes for countless research initiatives, they have a responsibility to demonstrate the value and impact of the research they fund. This is a requirement for every research grant issued.
What was needed was a clear and simple way for researchers to send RCUK the information they need to enable them to then report on the outputs, outcomes and impact of research for both the government and the public. The problem was that existing systems made the reporting process slow and laborious. The same data often needed to be inputted several times, especially when dealing with multiple grants while some information systems were not connected at all.
We’ve created an intuitive, open and scalable system
First, we carried out some research of our own to provide a better user experience for researchers, research organisations and funders. We needed to know their personal experiences of the existing systems. After this, we built Research Outcomes System (ROS). This is a web-based system that quickly and efficiently collects data from a wide range of outputs, outcomes and impacts of research. Once ROS went live, we continued to perform user testing to see how people were using the system, and made subsequent updates based on lessons learned.
We implemented a number of user-friendly features which have led to improvements in the efficiency and accuracy of entering and collating data. These features include: look-up options from third party systems, with ISBN, ISSN and DOI search functions; extended interoperability through use of standard and open formats alongside a new web service and a bulk upload option to allow multiple outcomes for multiple grants to be inputted at the same time. Existing data can also be uploaded from research organisations’ own information systems as well as from public systems and APIs.
The new mobile responsive system means you only need to input data once, even if the grant is from more than one Research Council. This prevents duplication of effort, meaning that submitting details now takes 80% less time than previous methods. Now, the details of a book or journal can be submitted in just two minutes.
Other benefits include:
- Compliance with the reporting requirements of other bodies.
- Access for multiple users nominated by researchers.
- Some Research Organisations can also choose to have a central point of contact to update information on all of their research grants.
- Users are able to add information about their research to ROS at any time during the life of their grant and for years afterwards, tracking the impact over time.
- Research Organisations can request reports across their grant portfolio.
- Open format data means information can be made useful for other purposes.