Puur gemak

By Aad van de Wijngaart

TU Delft is getting a new CRIS. CRIS? A Current Research Information System: in other words, a database of ‘output’ flowing from research that’s done at the university. The new system, named Pure, is promising much more convenience for both administrators and researchers.

Pure’s predecessor, Metis, was used by all universities in The Netherlands. The system is therefore widely known, but didn’t move with the times anymore. Researchers increasingly dreaded the chore of entering their publications. Finally the supplier ended support and maintenance.

Plenty of reasons, after ten years with Metis, to look for an alternative. At TU Delft the question arose if such a registration system for publications was still necessary. Wouldn’t it be enough to harvest publications from ISI and Scopus? An investigative tour around all the faculties showed, however, that this solution would be too limited: nowadays not only scientific articles but also other, ‘socially relevant’, forms of output by researchers count, such as handbooks for professionals, interviews for newspapers, tv appearances – you name it.

Sounding panel

So there was to be a new CRIS. Many universities are now switching to Converis (by Thomson Reuters) or Pure (by Elsevier). What would be best for TU Delft?

The question was dealt with in a thorough manner. To define the desired functionality, a ‘sounding panel’ group was established under the able leadership of Hans Meijerrathken.

For this blog, four members of this group were asked to relate how the selection of Pure came about. Tineke Komen (CTG) and Leonie Zijlstra (Architecture), are both faculty information coordinators and therefore heavy users of Metis. Mariska den Heijer and Els Boekee, from TU Delft Library, provide (partial) Metis entry for several faculties.

Leonie Zijlstra & Tineke Komen
Photo by Annemiek van der Kuil

Catch a plane

The review soon turned into a lively discussion. “The start was difficult”, says Tineke. “You’re used to one particular system and now you suddenly must think ‘out of the box’.” Some of the sounding panel members had talks at universities that had already made the switch. And naturally, there were several sessions (talks and demos) with both of the suppliers.

The panel members didn’t make it easy. Mariska: “At one moment, the consultant from Elsevier had to leave early to catch a plane. He already stood there with his coat on, when Tineke presented a important question that hadn’t been addressed.” Tineke: “That happened to be the crucial question, about socially relevant output!”

The Elsevier consultant took off his coat and tried to answer the question as best he could.*  At the next session he came back to it rightaway. Leonie: “That shows that the Elsevier people were willing to think along with us about every issue. They took an interest in what motivates us.”

Finally the sounding panel was guided by easy of use and functional options. The University took more aspects into account, but made the same choice: Elsevier. And so TU Delft will soon move to Pure, together with seventy percent of the other academic institutions in the Netherlands.

Ticking

The switch is expected to bring big improvements. Mariska explains that Pure will also be able to harvest: that is to automatically collect relevant data from other sites, also outside academia. Her colleague Els notes that not only the Executive Board but also several faculties would like to have a good survey of socially relevant output. “Last week we visited a faculty and there we saw an increasing interest.”

Naturally, harvesting requires a careful check of the results. That’s where the researcher must set to work. But it won’t be much of an effort. Tineke: “All he has to do is tick in a list: that publication is by me.”

Shop window

This easy process instantly produces a complete biography, that can be automatically pulled into other sites. Examples are profile pages in research communities (ResearchGate, Academia, ORCID) and in the TU Delft intranet. Never before was it so easy to fill up your own shop window and thus increase your visibility.

For Leonie and Tineke, Pure will also make their work as faculty information coordinators easier. Leonie: “It has a good reporting tool. I look forward to creating well structured reports, along SEP and faculty visitation lines, with the push of a button.”

Doing their bit

The contract with Elsevier was signed on April 22 with due celebrations. Little has been announced yet about the implementation process. Leonie: “I did get that it’s important to first clean up Metis thoroughly. Therefore we’ve drawn up a list of action points that we would like to start with, to prepare the system for the transfer of data as best we can.”

The sounding panel members hope that a reasonable level of unity will be attained in the workflow for Pure. They will be pleased to do their bit. Leonie: “We learned a lot about the system, so we’ll lso be able to help people in the organisation along.”

And Tineke hopes that Pure will entice researchers to fill up the system well. “By doing so you can create a distinct profile of yourself, also outside of TU Delft.”

* The Elsevier consultant (barely) caught his plane.

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