UCT supports several systems to facilitate open science and FAIR publication. The institution is currently undertaking a Research Data Integration Project (RDIP), led by UCT eResearch, to integrate those systems and make the practice of FAIR publication easier for researchers.
(Over the next few months, we will cast the spotlight on the different stages of the research project lifecycle and how UCT's systems support those.)
Streamlining UCT’s systems to support reproducible research
As part of UCT’s Vision 2030 ‘to unleash knowledge in and from Afrika to redefine and co-create a sustainable global future’, the institution will provide integrated, responsive and well-governed infrastructure and enterprise to support research, including ethics compliance infrastructure; cutting edge online platforms to sustain virtual research collaborations; and relevant and accessible information resources, cross-institutional capabilities and infrastructure to support the shared management and use of data.
It is becoming increasingly important for researchers to be able to share their data, code, software and publications easily and safely. This practice known as ‘open science’ involves the publication of data and other research outputs in a way that makes them findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR). It also allows other researchers to verify and expand upon their work.
Funders are recognising the value of FAIR publication and the requirement for open science practices is growing. The National Research Foundation (NRF) recognises the new paradigm of open science as a powerful driver for scientific research and scholarship and its application to social, economic and global environmental priorities. All researchers (including postgraduates) are expected to submit data management plans and to deposit the data supporting the research in an accredited open-access repository. From the funder perspective, the practice of open science also offers a better return on investment of public funding. It means that research, often paid for from public funds, is available to the public. It also means funders do not keep funding the same data collection processes repeatedly.
The value of RDIP to researchers
The primary goal of UCT’s Research Data Integration Project (RDIP), led by UCT eResearch, is to integrate UCT’s various systems, in order to avoid duplication of processes and make the practice of FAIR publication easier for the researcher. RDIP consists of four working groups, made up of colleagues from ICTS, UCT Libraries and the Research Office. Each group is involved in the management of different elements of the project, which is expected to be completed by 30 November 2020.
While researchers may not need to know the ins and outs of the technical integration work that is happening in the background, it is very useful to understand the function and value of the systems and how they can simplify the administrative demands that accompany research projects, so that more time can be spent on focussing on actual research.
Integrating the processes and systems of a research project lifecycle at UCT
UCT maintains various online systems to ensure the smooth-running of numerous processes in a research project lifecycle, and advance the practice of open science and FAIR publication.
While we are aware that each research lifecycle differs, the most common elements include:
Funder liaison: Develop proposals, submit applications and reports, negotiate a contract, and share data management plan and research data
Approvals: Obtain UCT internal approval to submit funding applications
Pre-awards: Project and other funding applications
Contracts: Manage contracts
Post-awards: Track project award financial activities
Financials: Manage and report on funds
The systems at UCT that support these processes are:
eRA: electronic Research Administration system. This is UCT’s primary research administration system, designed to support the researcher through the various steps on the administrative side of the research project lifecycle. It confirms that all the necessary boxes are checked, and steps completed to ensure the research project is delivered within budget and according to the contract with funders.
UCT DMP: online data management planning tool. This tool is designed to guide you through the various steps of a research data management plan (DMP). It also offers funder and department specific guidance for your data management plan.
ZivaHub | Open Data UCT: institutional data repository. This open access institutional data repository is available to all staff and students at UCT (although you may, of course, continue using domain-specific data repositories of your choice). It allows you to easily make your research data FAIR, i.e. citable, shareable, understandable and reusable.
OpenUCT: institutional publication repository. This open access repository of UCT makes available the scholarly outputs produced at the university, including theses and dissertations, journal articles, book chapters, research reports and more.
Research project lifecycle
The following infographic illustrates a typical research project lifecycle at UCT, mapping the various processes and systems that researchers interact with. It is recognised that a research project lifecycle is continuous, and that this example is not representative of all projects at UCT.
(Click on image for a high-resolution version.)
Single sign-on, using your UCT credentials, is the first step towards creating a seamless experience for researchers throughout the research project lifecycle. You can sign into all the systems using your UCT network password, negating the need for having separate usernames and passwords. It also reduces the need for duplicate entry of personal or project details across the four systems.
As part of the project, we are encouraging researchers to sign up for an ORCID iD and, importantly, connect their ORCID iD to the eRA system. The use of ORCID iD, a free and permanent research identifier for life, has become international research practice for researchers, with many publishers and funders requesting it. For optimal use of your ORCID iD with UCT systems, start by connecting yours to the eRA system. Find out how to do this here.
The UCT Research Support Hub is a virtual platform for UCT's researchers offering information about research administration. The information is curated from all research-related sources, by and for researchers.