eRA systems overview
Implementation of new software to automate and streamline the research project lifecycle
Research at UCT continues to grow year-on-year: every year, more research contracts are signed and the number of postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows continues to grow. UCT continues to increase our publication count, and attract more donations and funding. At the same time, the business of research management is rapidly-changing with the exponential growth of big data, open access and international collaboration. Furthermore, universities face additional challenges as governments restrict research funding and donors demand more from research groups. It is clear that supporting the research enterprise of a university is becoming an increasingly complex task.
In order to remain on top of our game and continue to make our mark both locally and internationally, UCT will be implementing an electronic research administration (eRA) system, to provide technological solutions to the problems we have identified. The cornerstone of the system is Converis, supplied by Thomson Reuters.
What the eRA system means for researchers
At present the research project lifecycle can be a cumbersome administrative process, made all the more difficult by minimal online systems, duplicate data entry, a lack of templates and many manual steps involving internal mail or hand delivery. The implementation the eRA system will change that, lifting the administrative burden through automation and streamlining the process at every step of the research project lifecycle.
As the diagram to the left shows, eRA will provide researchers with:
- a ‘one-stop shop’ to manage and track the administrative workflow within a project lifecycle and beyond
- user-friendly software that guides them from the point where an idea is born and a funding opportunity identified, through to post-publication with automatic CV updates
- streamlined and automated workflows, where the all parties involved – including ethics, finance and research contracts – are automatically notified of a project application coming their way
- the opportunity to track their applications through the automated process, reducing the risk of an application lying unseen in an inbox
- enable researchers to keep on top of their contract compliance requirements and integrate with SAP to track project funds. Through its online portal, researchers can create and manage their CV which they can draw on to apply for grants and funding and use to create a publicly visible profile.
What the eRA system means for the university
The implementation of eRA will free up resources so that UCT can offer more comprehensive research support and more efficient administration. The eRA system will allow for:
- improved strategic understanding of all research
- improved ability to track research impact and collaborations
- reduced financial risk through improved financial controls
- improved support for researchers, including proposal development, and
- better management of data, analytics and reporting to support strategic decision-making and control.
The implementation of the eRA system will be overseen by a team of specialists who are working on developing the systems according to UCT’s needs, rollout of live modules, training of relevant staff and ongoing help-desk support. Because of this, eRA will be implemented in phases over the next two years. The infographic below indicates the timeline of the phases to be implemented: