CASRAI Connectors are the technology components that enable organizations to publish and consume CASRAI-compliant admin data.
Fundamental to how the Web works is the concept of data/information sitting on a web server and being 'requested' by a web client (typically a web browser). The great innovation behind the Web is the simple uniformity of standard technologies that everyone agrees to use: HTTP, HTML, URLs. These three simple technologies allow for an unimaginably vast variety of data/information to be shared between people without having to be technology experts. CASRAI Connectors use all of those uniform technologies but add an innovation for the research community: the same standards-based uniformity applied to the data/information.
With CASRAI Connectors the global research community can leverage the power and openness of the Web with...
On the Web a Consumer of data/information can know with certainty that a Producer of of data/information what technology they've both agreed on: http, html, URL. But they cannot know anything about the data/information they will get unless they have a bilateral agreement. What CASRAI brings to this standards-based 'technology agreement' of 'we agree to use http, html and url' is a standards-based 'information agreement' of 'we agree to use a common structure and meaning of the data/information'.
Producers and Consumers
Important concepts in the orderly flow and approved re-use of admin data are those of Data Producer and Data Consumer. During the course of normal operations in the research lifecycle new admin data is being created. This new data is being stored in various software solutions installed and maintained at various organizational units (Research Office, Research Library, Research Funder, Scholarly Publisher, Shared Portal, etc.). Every organization is both a producer and a consumer of information.
Let's look at a research funder as an example. A research funder is the originating data source for two kinds of admin data:
- Funding Opportunities - admin data about funding programs including criteria, deadlines, etc.
- Funding Awards - admin data about funds awarded including amounts, multi-period details, PI, etc
But a research funder is also a consumer of admin data that originates at other organizations:
- Research Proposals - admin data about the objectives, methodology, people, facilities and other inputs when seeking funding;
- Research Outputs - admin data about the research-data, publications, and other outputs and outcomes from research investment;
- Interim Reports - admin data about the budget and interim outputs from a funded project;
- End-of Research Reports - admin data about the specific outputs and outcomes from a funded project;
- Research Impacts - admin data about the academic and/or broder societal impacts of research investment;
- Open Access Compliance - admin data about the level of compliance with open access policies
Typically research funders will use a combination of web forms and available data sources (commercial or otherwise) approaches to get the admin data they require.
Types and Plugins
There are a number of potential standard technologies that can be used to implement a CASRAI connector.
The first CASRAI Connector will be the RESTful web connector. This is a very widely used and supported technique in other industries that share data. With this connector an organization that produces admin data would, in effect, publish that data to a uniform location in relation to their corporate website.
A subsequent CASRAI Connector could be adding import/export functions to existing web forms.
A subsequent CASRAI Connector could be a Semantic Web connector.
The first prototype of a CASRAI Connector is the Web Harvest connector. This connector aims at being the simplest to implement for both Adm and those who want to access the admin data.