The ‘Scientific Information’ programme of swissuniversities aims to regroup efforts of Swiss universities to provide and process scientific knowledge. What are the programme’s objectives, what is the role played by SWITCH, and how will the programme and the partnership with SWITCH evolve in the years to come?
The “Scientific Information” programme P-5 of swissuniversities was created in response to a widespread desire at universities of applied sciences for a comprehensive reorganisation of the scientific information available to researchers, teachers and students. The decision by the Rectors' Conference was born of the need to strengthen the competitiveness of the Swiss scientific community on the international stage.
The programme has received targeted financial support and aims to guide coordination between the universities in order to improve the scientific digital content on offer as well as the tools designed to process this content. This is part of a long-term endeavour that strives to turn the service prototypes developed in the programme into operational and functional services that are available to all universities of applied science. To that end, a service management component was added to the project’s coordination in 2017.
Swiss universities face a number of common difficulties, such as global competition and the cost of licences paid to publishers of scientific journals. The only way to deal with these problems is to join forces. It is a collaboration motivated primarily by economic factors and the desire to support scientific mobility and competitiveness.
Since its creation, SWITCH has played a particularly important role in the exploitation of shared IT infrastructure solutions at universities of applied sciences. The development of SWITCH edu-ID is part of this mission. SWITCH edu-ID is a universal, secure and long-term digital identity that provides access to academic services. It shares and centralises resources in the most effective way possible, while preserving the universities’ autonomy.
Managing a host of accounts and passwords can be quite a headache and can also undermine the security of information systems. This is why it is important to develop consolidated authentication services that safeguard an individual’s identity in a simplified manner throughout a lifetime of assignments.
The various members of swissuniversities are preparing a new programme for the 2021–2024 period. It will focus on infrastructures and services relating to open science, open innovation, open education and citizen science.
In tandem with this, there are also plans to set up a national coordination office for scientific information. Its role will be to guide the universities as they promote and safeguard the use of digital services, building on the preparatory work already carried out in collaboration with SWITCH, which will host the office from 2021 onwards.