Newsletter: Thought Exchange part 2, and the Research Costing Tool project

by | May 2, 2018 | Costing, Newsletter, Survey | 0 comments

There’s just one day to go before our next ‘open house’ event, we have the second half of our story about the Thought Exchange survey, and an introduction to the Research Costing Tool project.

Thought Exchange alternative “survey” experiment – Part 2

In the previous issue of the newsletter, we promised to inform you of the next steps of the RLP and complete the results of the survey, which was an additional way to solicit requirements from the wider research community.

We classified these requirements, and those relevant to e-Research Infrastructure and Research Data Management (RDM) are presented in Figure 1. There were comments on other areas of concern, which we will report on in a future newsletter.

Bar chart - Breakdown of thoughts

Figure 1: Categorisation of thoughts shared. HTC is High Throughput Computing, RSE is Research Software Engineers.

The requirements

Combining our previous work and the results of the survey, Figure 2 below was developed to illustrate and articulate our understanding of the overall requirements. The mapping of these requirements also provides a consolidated overview of what needs to be done as we go forward:

Chart about agreements

Figure 2: Common requirements – themes of thoughts

There is a large amount of overlap in the top thoughts, which can be grouped into the following themes:

  • Requirement to increase the Research IT Support team that are able to:
    • Provide a responsive and knowledgeable service
    • Invest in innovation; collaborating on projects to enable preparation for the next wave of IT Services for research
    • Provide training and awareness raising, so that everyone can get the most out of the services
  • Easier data management to support our research:
    • Data management needs to be easier to enable good data management, sharing and collaboration both inside and outside the University
    • Support provided for archiving and publication of data linking to national initiatives
    • Support for data handling, manipulation and visualisation
  • High throughput computing provided as standard:
    • Increase the size of the facilities
    • Provide support for GPU

Next steps

Next steps chart

Figure 3: Showing the time line of events regarding the development of RLP business case.

Various committees have been working on developing the options as we go forward. This month will have an intensive work schedule seeking to work out and weigh the different options.

Research Costing Tool – Requirements gathering

The University currently uses pFACT for preparing costings and generating income templates for research funders. Our version of pFACT is outdated and has been announced ‘end of life’ by the supplier.

The Research Costing Tool project has been initiated due to the need to implement a replacement for pFACT in order to:

  • Improve efficiency whilst costing for research
  • Promote compliance with the University Costing and Pricing policy

The project is sponsored by the Directorate of Finance and will report into the Research Lifecycle Programme (RLP) to ensure the University’s requirements for research costing can be considered as part of the broader strategies for RLP.

During the first stage in the project we need to establish our requirements for research costing and are in the process of establishing a user group help us achieve this. We will be inviting suppliers to demonstrate their research costing tool products to the user group in order to help us understand and prioritise what we may want out of a costing tool.

Further communications will follow as the project progresses. If you’d like to register your interest in participating in the user group for the research costing tool, please email your name, role and department . A Terms of Reference for the user group provides further details for prospective participants.

Rachel Emmott,
Head of Costing and Research Finance,
Directorate of Finance

Our next event is happening very soon…

You have until 10am on Thursday morning to register for our next open house event, where we’ll present an update on the progress of the Research Lifecycle Programme, and give you the opportunity to ask questions.

  • Thought Exchange survey
  • PSS conference
  • Q&A

Thursday 3 May, 12.30pm – 1.30pm in Room G209 of the Alan Turing Building.

If you’ve not already done so, we advise you to familiarise yourself with the programme by looking at the materials presented in our first open-house session on 28 February:



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