SWITCHhub – accessible academic services for all

Institutional academic services can be valuable to the entire research community. These services tend to only be known and accessible within the home organisation. This is where SWITCHhub comes in.

Text: Alex UptonEvrim Bakir, published on 26.04.2019

A number of valuable and interesting internal services have been developed by academic institutions in Switzerland. In addition to their own research communities, these services can also be valuable to researchers in other institutions. However, in order for these services to mature and to be offered on a national level, a service framework has to be defined. This framework is a commitment from the academic service provider, and includes agreed support levels, performance indicators etc. This framework ensures a minimum level of quality and transparency, and is integral to the SWITCHhub platform. The vision of SWITCHhub is to become the central service catalogue of all Swiss academic services, and to act as a bridge from the service providers to the entire Swiss academic community.

openRDM.swiss – an accessible research data management service 

Setting up a data management platform presents a number of challenges for researchers. The openRDM.swiss service from ETH, mandated by the swissuniversities P-5 program, provides an accessible solution. 

Data management is a fundamental, yet challenging, part of research. The amount of research data produced by academic labs continues to grow, and many researchers are often unable to keep track of their research data. Additionally, research data are increasingly required to be published according to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) principles. This places further importance, and further pressure, on researchers to manage their data. The use of a data management platform can help researchers with this, but the implementation of such a system requires dedicated IT resources and skills that some research groups and institutes do not have.

Collaborating with SWITCH to offer a national service based on a secure cloud platform 

openBIS is a powerful data management platform that has been developed for over 10 years by ETH Zürich Scientific IT Services (ETH SIS). Through the recently launched openRDM.swiss project, ETH SIS now offers research data management as a service to the entire Swiss scientific community, based on openBIS. As part of openRDM.swiss, ETH SIS has decided to collaborate with SWITCH, to offer an accessible and scalable cloud-based data management platform hosted on the highly reliable SWITCHengines.

The platform is accessed via a web-based interface compatible with major browsers, offering a flexible system for researchers to manage their data without having to possess specific IT skills or having to rely on specialist IT support. openRDM.swiss is operated by a skilled team at ETH SIS that includes technical expertise in the development of the platform, and proficiency in data management consultancy and training. ETH SIS is well equipped to support researchers with the challenges involved with the introduction of a data management platform, having supported researchers across different research domains, and offers hands-on training to all new users of the service to minimise the effort needed to adopt the new system for daily work activities.

About the author
Alex   Upton

Alex Upton

Alex Upton completed a PhD in bioinformatics at the University of Birmingham, UK, before a two-year postdoctoral position at the University of Malaga, Spain. Alex joined ETH SIS in 2016, where he works as a Community Project Manager, and is responsible for the communications and marketing of the EnhanceR and openRDM.swiss national projects. He was previously responsible for the coordination of the active data management track of the DLCM project.

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About the author
Evrim   Bakir

Evrim Bakir

Evrim Bakir joined SWITCH in December 2018 as a Service & Product Manager in the Digital Solutions & Coordination Division. After studying electrical and electronic engineering, she completed numerous project management, service management as well as business administration certifications. She has many years of industry experience, the last 8 years at the B2B sector of a Swiss telecommunications provider.

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