Research IT projects

Current portfolio

Please note that most IT projects have two phases, an analysis and planning phase and a delivery phase. The timescales given below are for these two phases combined.

Administrative data related to research (grant proposals, awards, contracts, budgets, contract researchers, IP, graduate students etc) is held in a variety of central systems, requiring different levels of expertise to query, and at local levels. Departmental administrators spend a significant amount of time mapping across these systems, integrating information, monitoring project expenditure, tracking milestones and deliverables and presenting information to principal investigators and heads of departments. To address this, MARS will provide an in-house built application drawing together research project data held separately in three central systems (R12, X5 and Core HR) and allowing departmental administrators to see it in an intuitive, customisable easy-to-use front end.

The aim of the project is to deliver an interface between X5 and Oracle Financials R12 for the purposes of award creation and amendment within R12 using costing & pricing data calculated by X5, replacing the current process which involves manually keying in data into R12 from a spreadsheet output produced from X5. The solution proposed utilises BizTalk to transfer the data to staging tables where the calculations are performed prior to loading into R12.

Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) are web applications designed to support research groups in defining experimental protocols, documenting experiments, and storing datasets (or references to datasets). ELNs may provide additional functionality including support for inventory management, creation of databases, and the ability to define workflows, including sign-off steps for PIs to check experimental design. ELNs may also support publication by enabling researchers to export methods, results and data, and make specific pages within the ELN public.

This project has gone through two phases: (1) interviewing and surveying PIs and Researchers to establish high-level requirements and demand, together with discussing ELN provision with colleagues at Wisconsin, QMUL Barts Cancer Institute, MIT and Edinburgh; (2) evaluating and shortlisting commercial ELN products based on functionality, information security, current reference sites and the criteria identified through Phase 1. The third phase will run until November 2020 and will support the adoption of ELN solutions by research groups through partnering with two third-party ‘cloud’ service providers: LabArchives and ResearchSpace.

This project seeks to provide a large storage service for live research data during the lifetime of an award and after the award has finished but the data still needs to be available for ongoing research. The project will develop and pilot the service for a selection of departments that represent different disciplines before making a decision to roll it out across Oxford.

This project is set to upgrade the University’s repository, the Oxford Research Archive (ORA) with a new software solution in order to provide a secure, long term environment for preservation, access to and re-use of the University’s research outputs.

The current solution (ORA and ORA data) holds over 195,000 research items (including articles, theses and research data) and is growing by around 1,000 items per month. This project will make research more discoverable, improve the submission and reviewer workflow, provide standardised metrics and improve the overall user experience by consolidating workflows and making all interfaces responsive (mobile friendly). This project will also support the University’s goals for Open Access and compliance with REF mandates.

Oxford is currently the lead organisation for the EPSRC funded Joint Academic Endeavour for Data Science (JADE). Although the grant from EPSRC covers funding for the hardware and service provider contracts, no funding for management costs connected to service set up could be requested.

In order to ensure the successful delivery of JADE as a service to Oxford researchers (and other sites) a Project Manager is working with the Head of Research Computing for a period of up to eight months (50% FTE). The focus of the post is to act as a single point of contact between external contractors and partner sites to establish the service processes, governance groups, cross site service responsibilities and service documentation required for a typical new service introduction.

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