Challenges in improving interoperability within your research institution

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02 Aug 2021
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

As research institutions expand and improve their data management services, so, inevitably, the complexity of their data architectures increase. Getting an institutional data repository to talk to a research management and reporting system may be a challenge, but integrating both with a managed data storage system, a project costing system, HR records, data management planning tools, HPC systems, and the myriad of data generating tools that researchers rely on in their specific disciplines can seem overwhelming.

This session will explore the need for interoperability between institutional systems and services, and the challenges that such interoperability presents. Does it really matter whether data management systems can pass data and metadata between each other? If so, where is this most important? Where are the pain points? How can these best be addressed?

Beginning with a couple of examples from institutions actively wrestling with these questions, this session will provide a forum for people to share their own challenges, experiences, ideas, and suggestions. The emphasis of this meeting will be on establishing and prioritizing shared challenges rather than finding immediate solutions to every issue raised (although we would welcome anyone who has already solved them all!).

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes:

10 mins: Introduction to RDARI and scene setting
10 mins: Challenges at UCL designing an interoperable infrastructure (James Wilson)
10 mins: Challenges at the University of Cape Town designing an interoperable infrastructure (Renate Meyer, Kimi Keith)
70 mins: Plenary discussion on drivers and challenges
10 mins: Wrap up and Next steps

Target Audience: 

Those working at Research institutions involved in designing research data Architectures or elements of these. Or those responsible for connecting the elements of the Data Architectures into a valuable, well-connected whole. This may include senior managers, IT staff, librarians, project managers, research office staff, researchers and data stewards working with cross-disciplinary data, and so forth.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

The Research Data Architectures in Research Institutions Interest Group is primarily concerned with technical architectures for managing research data within universities and other multi-disciplinary research institutions. It provides insight into the approaches being taken to the development and operation of such architectures and their success or otherwise in enabling good practice.

The main themes of the IG are

  • Exploring how diverse tools, technologies, and services can be integrated to meet the evolving needs of researchers in research institutions.

  • Considering interoperability between institutional research data infrastructures and (inter)national or discipline-based infrastructures

  • Understanding the different institutional approaches to governance structures and business processes in responding to research ICT demands (e.g. capacity planning/forecasting for storage)

  • Sharing case studies of solutions developed by data infrastructure projects in research institutions

  • Presenting technical innovations and ideas that can further the development of integrated research data infrastructures

  • Agreeing best practice relating to research data architectures in research institutions

More information at

Short Group Status: 

The RDARI Interest Group was established in 2018 and since then has organised exchanges and discussions related to research data architectures. Some of these were related to specific elements or aspects of these (e.g. eLab Notebooks, Sensitive Data) and others were discussing potential solutions or elements.

Type of Meeting: 
Informative meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Meeting presenters: 
James Wilson (UCL); Keith Russell (ARDC; Renate Meyer (UCT); Kim Keith (UCT)