Flanders Research Information Space (FRIS) provides a service-oriented exchange infrastructure for research information in Flanders. It allows access to information about the researchers, research groups, publicly funded projects and outputs from research conducted at the Flemish research institutes and governmental bodies from 2008. Data are guaranteed to be up-to-date, complete and qualitative.
FRIS has been built as a service-oriented architecture (SOA) by the Departement Economy, Science and Innovation. It enables the Flemish Government to have an automated data delivery from the research institutes' systems, but also ensures the re-use of components (webservices) and datasets. In that process, standardization and the adoption of an internationally recognized standard of research information, Common European Research Information Format, has been implemented.
One of the goals of the FRIS system is to accurately reflect the state of research in the region. In order for this to be achievable it was necessary for the FRIS data providers to transition from the bulk based yearly upload (scenario from the past) to an incremental model where changes are propagated in real-time. This incremental model required a much tighter integration with the research institutions Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) facilitating updates based on state and workflow changes. The premise is that each time an organisation, person, project or research output is updated in the data-provider systems the change is evaluated whether the entity should exported to the FRIS ingestion service.
The main interfaces of the FRIS architecture are a set of SOAP web service operations.
The FRIS-platform delivers all its public data as open data via open API’s so that they can be used more easily by web developers who would like to build an innovative solution on top of it. Research institutes' processes and systems in Flanders thus are aligned, via FRIS, to support the government’s strategy that opening up data is essential for driving knowledge transfer to the industry and the broad public. All FRIS data are made available under the Flemish Free Open data License (https://overheid.vlaanderen.be/sites/default/files/documenten/ict-egov/licences_gratis-open-data-licentie1.2.html), i.e. free access to the data is given if the source statement to the data (Flemish Government) is given.
The FRIS platform provides access to the information, adopting reusable technologies that can easily be adapted to the needs of different government administration, from the regional to the federal level, and increasingly to the European level. We will shortly be looking into the integration with the Open Aire platform and will ensure integration with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) for Flanders bu ensuring to provide FAIR FRIS metadata.
In terms of IT-infrastructure, the platform was developed to be compatible with the legacy systems of the research institutes. It delivers webservices that are technology-independent components. Data can be provided as an XML data file or can be delivered via a HTTP/SOAP protocol.
The FRIS platform was built to realize the principle of “collect only once, reuse where possible” of data. It provides the possibility of uniquely identifying and classifying researchers, organisations, projects, research output and other associated aspects across organisational boundaries.
The aggregated data is to be used in a number of different scenarios, namely:
- Increase visibility for research, potentially increasing the citation index of Flemish knowledge institutions
- Enabling easy location of individual domain experts and provide meaningful inter-disciplinary collaboration suggestions
- Provide reports and benchmark indicators to support government policies
- Coupling of financial information to research information enabling budget analysis for administrators and easy funding discovery and application for researchers
- Integration with other research networks potentially linking the research information for all European knowledge institutions
For a movie about the FRIS-infrastructure, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3t4wMUyPKU&feature=youtu.be
For some press articles (in Dutch), see https://www.ewi-vlaanderen.be/onze-opdracht/innoverende-samenleving/fris-flanders-research-information-space