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A treasure trove for research in Svalbard

It has taken several years and investments in the seven-digit range, but the new version of the Research in Svalbard (RiS) database is finally set for launch. All research projects carried out by researchers in Svalbard are to be registered in the database.

“The new RiS will be the portal for anyone carrying out research in Svalbard. Everything is stored in one location, everything is digital,” states Kirsten Broch Mathisen, Special Adviser at the Research Council of Norway and chair of the Svalbard Science Forum (SSF).

A user-friendly solution

“The new RiS is a clear improvement over the existing database. First of all, we have worked hard to make it far more user-friendly, to simplify the actual task of entering information.

Second, there is an obvious advantage in storing multiple authorisation application forms together in RiS compared to previously, when researchers who were seeking to perform fieldwork in Svalbard had to fill in the same information in up to three applications – one for RiS, one for the Office of the Governor of Svalbard and then one for the research station if a research stay in Ny-Ålesund was planned.

With this new version, project information will only have to be entered once,” Ms Broch Mathisen explains, adding that information about projects already entered into the system prior to the launch date will also be migrated into the new database.

Accessible to all

The third advantage of the new RiS database, and the one that will help to make it into a real treasure trove for Svalbard research, is that there will be open access to it.

“Registration of research projects in RiS provides a unique overview of the scope of research activity on Svalbard as well as what is being researched, by whom and where. Over time, as observations, findings and datasets from these research projects are entered into the database, it will become an invaluable source of information about specific thematic areas of research. Open access to these data will make the RiS database an important knowledge base for anyone seeking information about research from Svalbard.

It will take a bit of effort on the part of each individual researcher and project manager, but it is our hope that everyone who registers for RiS access will understand what a golden opportunity it represents for disseminating information about their projects and findings. RiS is the same as any other database in that the quality of the data available depends on the quality of the data entered. For this reason, we encourage researchers to enter data accurately and to update the data as their research projects progress. As the database grows so does its relevance to a wider audience – and this is what can make RiS into the exceptional tool we have sought to create. It’s a win-win situation,” Ms Broch Mathisen states.

Historical lines

RiS was initially launched as a catalogue of annual reports administered by the Norwegian Polar Institute (NPI). It was digitised in the 1990s and made available as a database under the joint ownership of NPI and the Research Council.

Today, the Research Council is sole owner of RiS while the secretariat of the Svalbard Science Forum (SSF) is responsible for operations, maintenance and customer support. During the development phase of the new RiS, SSF received invaluable assistance from NPI, Kings Bay AS and the Office of the Governor of Svalbard. The IT Department at the Research Council has played a key role in improving the database in cooperation with external consultants.

“Even though we have dedicated a great amount of time and resources to quality-assurance, there is still a certain risk that the new database will experience some growing pains in the initial weeks following launch. With this in mind, we encourage new users to contact us if they experience any difficulties in connection with registration. The administration is at the ready both to assist users and to log all issues,” Ms Broch Mathisen concludes.

About the RiS database

  • Research in Svalbard (RiS) is a database for research in Svalbard. Approximately 2 200 research projects are currently registered in the database. 
  • All research projects requiring authorisation pursuant to the Act relating to the protection of the environment in Svalbard or which will be carried out in Ny-Ålesund are required to be registered in RiS.
  • Svalbard-related research projects receiving funding from the Research Council of Norway and/or the Svalbard Science Forum (SFF) are also required to be registered in RiS. 
  • All other research projects with a connection to Svalbard are encouraged to register in the database. 
  • A new and improved version of RiS is now launched. It offers various access levels: - Open access for anyone wishing to search among registered projects without the use of a user name and password;
    - Project participants will receive a dedicated user name and password and may enter data from their own projects;
    - Project managers are granted the highest access level, allowing them to register research projects and apply for relevant authorisations.
    Please note that users of the former version of the database will need to get a new password when logging in to the new version.

Visit the database at www.researchinsvalbard.no

 

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