Friday, 14 October 2011

RCUK's New System ROP-ey

Following my previous post, I've heard on the grapevine about some - ahem - 'discontent' with RCUK's Research Outcomes Project (ROP), which is due to go live on 14 November.

Whilst the RCUK is still whistling in the dark about its new system, both the Russell Group and 94 Group have written to RCUK asking them to think again about implementing it in its current form. One person I spoke to said that working with the system 'will make you cry'. Whilst they had issues with MRC's e-Val system, it was user friendly in comparison to the ROP. Apparently the reason that the ESRC-based system was chosen in preference to the MRC one was that it was the cheapest to develop.

The main issue with ROP is that it does not allow 'bulk uploads'. Thus, universities will not be able to centrally load details of all the outcomes from all their RCUK-funded projects. Each academic will have to enter details of the projects separately. Worse still, the new system does not currently have the capacity to link to an institution's own repository - such as the Kent Academic Repository (KAR) - so academics will end up having to enter the data twice.

The result will be that research offices will spend a lot of time chasing academics to fill in their details - individually - and that academics will spend twice as long as they need providing their data - individually. And, if push comes to shove, the academics might decide that they will only provide the obligatory ROP data rather than (say) the requested HEI data, which may foul up institutional preparations for the REF.

There's still a possibility that RCUK will find a way to allow bulk uploads, and they may even find a way of linking to individual institutional repositories. But it's unlikely to do so by 14 November.


  1. You might like to know Research Outcomes does actually support "bulk upload" of data in a number of ways, and your post is incorrect for several reasons...

    ROP data can be bulk uploaded via a spreadsheet, deposited with SWORD, or harvested from a repository through OAI.

    This means an academic can submit (or delegate the task) individual outputs/outcomes through the website or upload several at a time using a spreadsheet. While HEI's have the same options plus the added flexibility of SWORD and OAI.

    It looks like KAR is ePrints so its just a case of configuration for Kent, and collection of the right fields like grant reference.

    Technical guidance will be issued to support these activities in due course, but the website has to launch first.

  2. Thanks for this Dale. This is useful. However, their FAQs suggest that you can only bulk upload the outcomes from a single project. Whilst this is good as far as it goes, I'm not sure whether it's adequate, particularly for the more research intensive universities that will have a large number of RCUK projects on the go. However, I'm happy to be corrected on this if I've misunderstood, and I look forward to getting the technical guidance when it's issued.

  3. The FAQ is from May... A general update to the Research Outcomes related pages will take place next week so that the right information is available for the launch!

    Testing over the last couple of months has obviously focused on individual grant uploads, but multiple is there.

    There are also lookups for ISBN/ISSN/Pubmed ID/DOI etc to help cut down the need to rekey information when submitting outputs.