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Development of the (National) Database of Project Activities in Science and Higher Education of the Republic of Croatia

Aim

The EU-financed project SKAZVO[1] has helped facilitate the development of external information systems used by the Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE) in conducting external evaluations of institutions in the sector of science and higher education (S&HE). In addition to the ASHE database MOZVAG[2], already existing information systems developed and maintained by the Centre for Scientific Information of the Ruđer Bošković Institute (CSI-RBI) that could potentially be used for collection of data on HEI activities on the national level, were also upgraded. In addition to the upgrade of Croatian Scientific Bibliography database - CROSBI that provides data on publishing activities of Croatian researchers but also other HEI staff, the Database of Project Activities (DPA) in Science and Higher Education[3] has been further developed, enabling the detailed records on all projects institutions in the S&HE system conduct or participate in. DPA was developed by the CSI-RBI and ASHE with the intention of enabling a centralized data input of all project activities of the institutions in S&HE system, including a detailed description of each project. DPA data can be used in external evaluations carried out by ASHE, but also for other purposes.

Methods

In order to determine the current situation and sources of information on project activities of the institutions in the S&HE system, ASHE has carried out a desk research. Following the desk research findings, collaboration was established with CSI-RBI aimed at upgrading the existing database on project activities that was developed by CSI-RBI. Through constructive meetings and discussions between ASHE and IRB experts, the existing data sources on project activities were analysed and a model for improving the existing database developed in order to cover all different types of project activities of the institutions in the S&HE system.

Results and Discussion

Findings of the desk research conducted by ASHE were discouraging as it was established that there was no systematic tracking of the project activities of the institutions in the system of S&HE at the national level. There was no national database, and the national bodies in charge of collecting data on S&HE system (Ministry of Science and Education, Croatian Statistic Bureau) did not have any comprehensive or structured information on all project activities of the institutions in the S&HE system. CSI-RBI was identified as the only institution collecting data on different project activities, mostly by importing existing (publicly available) data from different sources (such are projects financed by Ministry of Science and Education until 2013 and by Croatian Science Foundation afterwards, as well as data on EC-funded projects from CORDIS[4]). CSI-RBI database was developed in 2017, with the goal of uniquely identifying projects by Croatian researchers and institutions, as well as linking projects with their publication records in various information systems (such as the national bibliography CROSBI or Croatian institutional digital repositories)(1). Database enabled API access to existing information systems: CROSBI, DABAR, Hrčak, EPrints, Šestar. Information in the database were only relating to the research projects, while ASHE also needs information on non-research project activities (commercial projects, mobility and development of HE projects, etc.) for its external evaluation procedures. Upgrade of the existing DPA database was seen as a good solution for motivating institutions in S&HE system to provide data on their activities in one place, from where the data could be used in the external evaluations carried out by ASHE. Prior to the collaboration of ASHE and CSI-RBI and development of the DPA, there was no database or a single central system in which all institutions in the S&HE system could enter all their project activities (manually or by importing). In collaboration between ASHE and CSI-RBI, a user interface and an administration interface with multiple levels of administration were developed and metadata project descriptions extended, with plans for the developing API access for the exchange of data with MOZVAG (and other services) in the near future. More detailed metadata on projects were necessary in order to have better description of the projects, and to help differentiate between research and non-research projects, as well as those funded through different national and international instruments and funds. Better metadata would allow for more quality evaluation of institution’s activities, but would also provide greater transparency of project activities throughout the S&HE system. A foreseen added value of the development of the DPA are better quality data on projects in the S&HE system, which could be integrated into the CroRIS system that should be developed within the EU funded strategic project "Scientific and Technological Forsight"(2).

Conclusion

In the external evaluation procedures conducted by ASHE, it is necessary to provide information on all types of projects that institutions in the S&HE system implement or participate in. ASHE recognised the Database of Project Activities in Science and Higher Education as an obvious solution to this deficiency, and therefore decided to finance further development of this database through the SKAZVO project.

  • Marina Cvitanušić BrečićMarina Cvitanušić BrečićCroatian Agency for Science and Higher Education

    Marina Cvitanušić Brečić works at the Analytics and Statistics Department of the Croatian Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE… More →

  • Marina GrubišićMarina GrubišićCroatian Agency for Science and Higher Education

    Marina Grubišić is the head of the Analytics and Statistics Department of the Croatian Agency for Science and Higher Education (ASHE). She… More →