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 will become part of NZRIS. However, there is currently no mandatory requirement for organisations to join.

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.

NZRIS is being developed iteratively and over several years, which means that organisations can choose to join along the way. We expect that as it grows, more organisations will see the benefits of being part of it.

How is NZRIS any different from other research information systems?

There are systems that have functional similarities, but NZRIS is unique because it is designed to capture a broad range of research activity and links key aspects of the research, science and innovation sector such as funding, organisations and people, in a way that isn’t done in any other system. NZRIS is supported by the New Zealand government so it is freely available to the public. Also, because it has been co-designed with the research, science and innovation sector, it means that future functionality will be designed to support the sector’s needs.

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 right now is on main funding organisations joining NZRIS in Phases 1 and 2. These are:

  • Phase 1
    • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
    • Ministry for Primary Industries
    • Health Research Council
    • Royal Society Te Apārangi
  • Phase 2
    • Callaghan Innovation
    • Tertiary Education Commission.

Note some other government agencies that fund research have expressed interest in joining, so these may also be part of Phase 2.

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

We expect to be in a position to provide more definitive dates for Phase 3 once we have completed Phases 1 and 2.

What is the driver for NZRIS?

NZRIS is a key action of the 2016 Research, Science and Innovation Domain Plan. This plan was developed by the research, science and innovation sector. It identified the need for better sector-wide data and information about research, science and innovation activity in New Zealand. The plan identified a series of data principles for the sector which NZRIS is founded on. These build on the Government’s principles for data that is held and owned by the government, and include the need for data to be open, readily available and well-managed.

How do I formally join NZRIS?

Right now our focus is on working with selected funding organisations to bring them on board. Once we have developed NZRIS and incorporated data from our first data providers, we will look to on-board other research organisations. This is likely to be from 2021.

The mechanism for joining NZRIS will be through signing a Memorandum of Understanding which will define the ways in which your organisation will work with NZRIS, and a data supply agreement which will include specific details of what data your organisation will provide, and how often. We’ve chosen to use MOUs as our primary agreement because they’re commonly used in situations where data is managed across government agencies.

How is the sector involved in NZRIS?

MBIE is developing NZRIS on behalf of the research, science and innovation sector. There are two key sector-led groups that provide input and direction for NZRIS. These are the NZRIS Stewardship and Oversight Group (NSOG) which is a skills-based group that takes an overarching view of NZRIS data and its direction and the Funder Researcher Working Group (FRWG) which is a sector-based group providing input to the development and ongoing maintenance of NZRIS. In addition, FRWG sub-groups will also be set up on an as-required basis to focus on individual matters and topics as they arise.

Preparing for NZRIS

Is there a date that my data needs to be “NZRIS-ready” by, even if I don’t join NZRIS that date?

No. The only date that your data will need to be “NZRIS-ready” by would be the date from which you start submitting data to NZRIS. However, if you do happen to have data that dates back earlier, and is in an NZRIS-compliant format, then this can be included in your submission.

I’ve heard my data needs to be NZRIS compliant by June 2020 – is this true?

Not any more. Early in the NZRIS programme, there was an intention to set a possible date (June 2020) from which organisations need to have their data NZRIS-compliant. However, this has been superseded based on feedback from the sector indicating that more time is required to become NZRIS-ready. While there is no firm date from which an organisation’s data needs to be NZRIS-compliant, we are encouraging research organisations to be ready to join NZRIS by 2021/22 at the latest.

As a research organisation, can I submit data to NZRIS on a trial basis even if I haven’t signed up?

No, only data providers that have signed up to NZRIS will be able to submit data. However, we will be able to provide demonstrations showing how it works to potential data providers before they sign up. Also, an overview of how it works will be included in our readiness materials.

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. You can do this by reading some of the NZRIS materials on our website and reviewing the NZRIS data specifications which are available under “Resources”.

NZ Research Information System information

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 and what support is there?

The NZRIS team aims to work closely with organisations to make the transition to NZRIS as easy as possible for them. This support will include readiness material and tools, and regular engagement with organisations as they get closer to the data submission stage.

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. 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 includes a number of steps which include information to help increase your understanding of NZRIS, and material to help you start preparing your data and business processes.
  • Stage 3 involves submitting data to NZRIS and ongoing improvements in scope and quality of data submitted. We will have a user manual available to help data providers understand the process step by step.

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 its systems and processes in place to join NZRIS, can it start earlier than 2021?

This may be possible and we’ll work with you to consider 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”. To start with, NZRIS will only hold data about publically-funded research and resources. Some research organisations may also administer funds and be “Asset Pool Managers” as well.

Full details of the data that could be in NZRIS are in the NZRIS data specifications.

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, either to NZRIS directly or to Organisation 2, depending on what reporting requirements the funder put in place.

I understand that NZRIS will only hold data about publically-funded research and resources to start with. What does “publically funded” mean?

When we refer to public funds, we are referring to known funds such as MBIE’s Endeavour Fund, or the Royal Society Te Apārangi’s Marsden Fund. These are all supported through government funding. The data in NZRIS will be about how these funds are being distributed, and what research is being undertaken using these funds.

How have the NZRIS data standards and specifications been developed?

The NZRIS data standards have been developed by the research, science and innovation sector. Through the RSI Domain Plan, the sector identified that there was a lack of common, consistent standards, and this is why they have been developed for NZRIS. As much as possible, all NZRIS standards aim to fit with existing language and terminology, while also aiming to achieve a balance between capturing the complexities of the system in as simple a way as possible.

What happens when the data specifications change – and what impact would you expect this have on the data provider? Would any re-work be required?

We are currently on Version 2 of the NZRIS data specifications, and we expect the current specifications to be locked in for at least the next two years. The development of the data specifications took considerable time and effort, including involvement of the sector. This means that changing the data specification would be a relatively significant undertaking and would not be done frequently. If and when the data specifications are updated, it will also need to be done in close consultation with the sector.

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

No, applications for resources should be made to the organisation that is distributing the funds, as is the situation 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.

Why do research organisations need to supply "Award Received" information if it’s already held by the funder?

When the NZRIS data specifications were developed, the sector was keen to make sure that research organisations had the ability to provide data from their point of view, rather than all data being funder-centric. This is why the ability to provide “Award Received” was included. It also allows for a research organisation to provide information about an award received where the award granted information is not provided by the funder. However, we appreciate that in some cases – where the data is already provided by the funder – that this may create unnecessary work for a research organisation, so we are looking at ways to resolve this issue.

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

This was included in the NZRIS data model as sector feedback indicated that there was a strong desire to know what was not funded, given the amount of time invested in applying for funding. However, it is an optional data entity. If a data provider submits data about applications that are unsuccessful, this information should be protected and not made public. However, it can be useful to have aggregated data about the characteristics of applications, such as fields of research, that are being applied for, and that is why it is important have the ability to include this information.

Data management and protection

How will NZRIS handle 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 needs to be protected and should not progress to the public-facing website. They do this through the use of protection patterns. Applying these patterns ensures that commercially-sensitive, personal or otherwise sensitive data is protected.

How should a data provider decide what data should be protected?

We recommend organisations carry out a privacy impact assessment of the data they would like to submit to NZRIS, as part of their data alignment preparations. The purpose of a Privacy Impact Assessment is to consider whether there are any privacy implications, and if so look at how to manage those through applying the correct protection patterns, and ensuring that the necessary permissions to submit data are in place.

Will NZRIS be able to view my organisation’s protected data?

The only people who will be able to view data in the private data set will be the authorised users from the data provider organisation, and the NZRIS custodian. There will be strict controls in place to ensure that access is limited within NZRIS, and that data privacy is respected. It is also important to remember that the data that NZRIS holds does not belong to NZRIS – it belongs to the organisation that provided it. This means that NZRIS has no view on the meaning of the data it holds – it is only interested in whether the data meets the required format and standards.

Will other organisations be able to view my protected data?

No. As in the answer above, private data will only be visible to the authorised users from the data provider organisation who submitted it and the NZRIS custodian.

Will NZRIS be able to check my data to see if it is correct before it is published?

The NZRIS custodian will be able to view and authorise data before it is published, but will only be checking that it meets data requirements. The NZRIS custodian will not be able to make judgements about the intent of the data that is provided.