Member story
Two researchers working on a digital tablet
Creative Commons attribution information
©skynesher via iStock
All rights reserved

Cardiff University: “Jisc’s research repository will help us promote and support open research practices”

Kellie Snow

Cardiff University is implementing Jisc's new research repository and preservation services. These solutions will help us manage data effectively, adopt open research good practices and comply with research funders’ open data expectations.

We want to support researchers to do great work

We’ve been keen to have a repository for research datasets to support researchers across the university. We already use our Converis current research information systen (CRIS) for EPSRC-funded projects to create dataset records and obtain digital object identifiers (DOIs), but a research repository solution will enable us to automate more of the processes, such as minting DOIs, and manage our research data longer term. It will free us up to offer our research data management services to departments across the university.

We need a repository that integrates with our CRIS and Jisc has worked with us to make sure it does, even though ours is very much a bespoke product. Our CRIS and the research repository have mapped together well.

All in all, the research repository will help us provide more of our researchers with enhanced support to store and manage their data. It will also allow third parties to download datasets immediately instead of waiting for us to grant them access.

We need a repository that develops as research evolves

We’re a research-intensive university. Our researchers generate lots of data and this is challenging. Our immediate concerns have been to make sure we have long-term, secure storage for our data and that the data will be available and reusable in 10 or 25 years if that’s what research funders require.

Taking part in the research data shared service project and working collaboratively with trusted partners to co-create the research repository as a shared, managed service has been valuable.

We’ve helped to shape the service around the particular needs of UK-based universities and research funders. This matters to us because some commercially-available solutions have an international focus and their functionality isn’t always suited to our needs. But having stressed the value of a UK-focused service, I’d also say it’s useful that Jisc collaborates with international organisations about open research; it means they’re aware of global initiatives that will affect how UK institutions have to do things in years to come.

Looking into the future, it’s important that our repository solution is adaptable. It’ll need to be flexible and handle different sorts of data – sensitive data, big data and dynamic datasets that are constantly being changed or added to, for example. We’ll be involved in ongoing work to accommodate future challenges and there’s already an ambitious roadmap for this, which gives us confidence in this solution.

Preservation is about more than just leaving data sitting on a server somewhere

One of the things that attracted us to this repository solution is the preservation aspect. Preservation has to be an active process because digital systems and file formats change or go out of use all the time. Unless you’re regularly checking that digital assets are still accessible you can’t really claim they’re being preserved.

The preservation service checks and makes updates automatically; having this allows us to be a bit ahead of the game in how we’re looking after datasets. It’s something we take very seriously. Preservation as an integral aspect of a repository solution is important and it’s an idea that will gain traction with institutions.

At Cardiff we’re committed to ‘open’ and pushing it as far as we can

We don’t just want to do the bare minimum for compliance purposes.  We have working groups embedding open practices across the university. This is an ideological aspiration, if you like, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a reminder of why it’s important to share research data and how doing so can speed up developments like vaccines and new treatments.

When our data repository is launched we will have more time to develop our research data management services in other areas across the research lifecycle.  We fully expect that we’ll be publishing more datasets and making sure they meet the FAIR Principles: findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

Longer term, we’ll explore how the services can support other university functions

There is potential for the wider university to do additional things with preservation and the repository. The repository solution can preserve any digital object and store any kind of file type and this could be helpful for aspects of the university archives and special collections, for example.

We will start a programme of advocacy and training in the wider university and we know Jisc will support us in doing that. They’re an established player in this area and a trusted partner for us, and this gives us confidence that the research repository and preservation solutions will meet our needs as they develop.

You can hear Kellie talk at Preservica's Harnessing the power of open APIs to rapidly build your institutions digital ecosystem webinar on 11 March 2021.

Find out more about how Jisc is developing services and support for open research and working to influence international and domestic policy. You can also read more about our Plan S compliant research repository service and preservation. Alternatively, please contact your account manager for a chat.