Q&As

Here you’ll find common questions and answers about NZRIS. These are operational-level Q&As for research organisations that are either considering joining NZRIS, or that are already starting the preparation process. We’ve grouped the questions and answers into categories to help make it easier to find what you’re looking for. If you have a question that’s not here, email the team at nzris@mbie.govt.nz

Who needs to be part of NZRIS

I’m a New Zealand research organisation – am I expected to join NZRIS?

The intention is that over time, all research organisations – whether publically or privately funded – will want to become part of NZRIS.

This is because NZRIS is designed to be a national system and the more organisations that are part of NZRIS, the fuller and more accurate the picture of research activity in New Zealand will be. 

However, there is currently no requirement for organisations to join. It is also important to remember that NZRIS is being developed iteratively and over time, which means that organisations can choose to join along the way. We expect that as it grows, more organisations will want to be part of it.

If I do want to be part of NZRIS, when should I join?

Most research organisations won’t be joining NZRIS until at least 2021 (Phase 3).

The focus is on the six main funding organisations joining NZRIS in Phases 1 and 2. These are the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Health Research Council and the Royal Society Te Apārangi for Phase 1; and Callaghan Innovation and the Tertiary Education Commission (in addition to Phase 1 organisations) for Phase 2.

Other organisations will be able to join NZRIS from Phase 3. These include Crown Research Institutes, universities and independent research organisations. 

How do I formally join NZRIS?

Before your organisation can join NZRIS, you need to have a signed data supply agreement (in the form of a memorandum of understanding or MOU) in place with the NZRIS programme at MBIE. We’ll work with your organisation to help you get to this point.

Preparing for NZRIS

Should I still be preparing for NZRIS, even if my organisation isn’t in the first two phases?

Yes, we recommend that any organisation working in the research sector starts to become familiar with NZRIS now – particularly those that receive or use public funds.

This is even more important if your organisation is planning on upgrading your ICT and reporting systems in the next year or two, as it makes sense for your new systems to align with NZRIS requirements.

Another reason for starting to prepare now is that you may be asked by a funder or other partner for information that is in an NZRIS-compliant format.

How do I prepare for NZRIS?

We have identified three informal “stages” that every organisation needs to work through before they can join NZRIS. These are not set in stone, but are meant to be a guide to help organisations work through the process in a structured way.

Stage 1 is an introduction to NZRIS and how it works at a high level. We have a range of materials available to help build understanding of NZRIS, such as our brochures

Introduction to NZRIS [PDF, 289 KB] and

Working with NZRIS [PDF, 259 KB].

This stage is aimed at those who have little to no awareness or understanding of NZRIS. We expect many organisations will be able to skip straight to Stage 2.

Stage 2 has two key aspects, which together are designed to prepare your organisation for data submission to NZRIS. The first is to get a deeper understanding of NZRIS and how it works (eg, what data is in NZRIS, how it’s made up, how it will be handled, who provides it and when, how the submission process works). The second is undertaking the work required so that your organisation can submit data (signing data supply agreements, scoping and matching data, and updating internal business processes). We have some materials available for Stage 2, such as

NZRIS and Data Management [PDF, 282 KB] - our information sheet

NZRIS data specifications [DOCX, 2.9 MB]

information sheet Data in NZRIS [PDF, 310 KB] which is a simple guide to the data specifications

Data in NZRIS at a glance [PDF, 245 KB] - our infographic.

We are preparing more materials for this stage over coming months and will let stakeholders know when they’re available.

Stage 3 involves submitting data to NZRIS and ongoing improvements in scope and quality of data submitted. We are currently developing materials for this stage, such as a submission user guide, and will inform stakeholders when these are available in coming months.

How long will it take to get ready for NZRIS?

This is likely to be different for each organisation, because it depends on the scope of your data and how aligned it already is with NZRIS requirements. Generally speaking, we expect it would take anywhere from six to 18 months.  

Even though most research organisations won’t be joining NZRIS until 2021 at the earliest, it is still a good idea to start preparing now to allow time to get ready.

If my research organisation has our systems and processes in place to join NZRIS, can we start earlier than 2021?

This may be possible and we’ll work with you to work out how this can happen.

Understanding NZRIS data requirements

What data will be collected by NZRIS and who provides it?

Data in NZRIS will be about research funding and research activity. The data is provided by organisations that fund and undertake research. Research funders provide data about funding and other non-monetary resources for research, and are known as “Asset Pool Managers”. Research organisations provide data about research activity and projects and are known as “Research, Science & Innovation Managers” or “RS&I Managers”.

Full details of the data that will be in NZRIS are in the NZRIS data specifications. We’ve also prepared some simple guides

Data in NZRIS – at a glance [PDF, 245 KB] - the infographic and

Data in NZRIS [PDF, 310 KB] - the inforamtion sheet.

What about devolved funding – for instance, what happens when an Asset Pool Manager (Organisation 1) distributes resources/funds to an RS&I Manager (Organisation 2), and some or all of those funds are then passed on (“devolved”) to another RS&I Manager (Organisation 3)?

This is a common occurrence in the research sector, when one RS&I Manager acts as the lead but brings in services from other RS&I Managers.

In the example used in the question above, Organisation 1 would only provide asset pool data, Organisation 2 would provide both asset pool and RS&I data, and Organisation 3 would only provide RS&I data.

Is an RS&I Manager required to submit their application for funding to NZRIS?

No, the process for applying for resources should be done to the organisation that is distributing the funds, in the same way it is now. In regard to NZRIS data submission, an Asset Pool Manager would be responsible for submitting Application data into NZRIS, not an RS&I Manager.

Data management and protection

What about privacy and confidentiality of data?

Not all data in NZRIS will be publically available. When submitting data, data providers need to indicate what data is suitable for publication and what data should not progress to the public-facing website or needs to be suppressed. They do this through the use of protection patterns. Applying these patterns ensures that commercially-sensitive, personal or otherwise sensitive data is protected.

Does this mean that NZRIS will still hold data that needs to be kept confidential – and if so who can see it?

Yes, but any data that is protected will be held in a private dataset that is separate from the public website. Only the NZRIS custodian will have full access to this dataset. Data providers will also have access to their own data, including protected data, but they won’t be able to view any protected data provided by other organisations.

Will NZRIS hold information about applications made for research funding, even when they’re not successful?

This is one of the data entities that NZRIS allows for, but it will not come into effect until Phase 2 and even then it will be an optional requirement. If a data provider submits data about applications that are unsuccessful, this information would be protected and not made public. However, it can be useful to have aggregated data about the number of applications for different funds and that is why it is important to include allowance for this information.