The manager of PTCRIS, Cátia Laranjeira, explains everything about the importance of this program for the future of the national scientific system.  

The transition to a knowledge-based economy has been driven by the rapid development of science and technology, as well as by the wide adoption of new technologies in all human activities. Indeed, over the past decades, there has been an exponential growth in scientific production and in the volume of data produced. It is expected that the knowledge resulting from these scientific efforts will be the engine to effectively respond to the complex challenges we face today, but for this to happen, it is essential to know and make known the knowledge that is produced.  

The FAIR principles, first published in 2016, set out guidelines for good practice in managing the data that result from research. According to these principles, to maximize the impact of scientific and technological advances, scientific data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. In this context, science management plays a key role. 

The adoption of standards and the creation of tools and infrastructures that support them are the invisible pillars that sustain FAIRification in science. In Portugal, recognizing this importance, efforts have been made to define a normative framework for interoperability and support infrastructures that allow the construction of an integrated and coherent ecosystem in which the information arising from scientific activity flows between the various systems. This ecosystem was named PTCRIS.  

What is the PTCRIS?

Launched in 2014, the PTCRIS program aims to create an integrated ecosystem of information to support national scientific activity. To this end, PTCRIS is dedicated to the development of a normative interoperability framework, i.e, set of principles and rules, a common language that enables effective communication between the various components of the research ecosystem, ensuring consistency, interoperability and compatibility between different systems, platforms and institutions. 

One of these principles concerns unique and persistent identifiers (PIDs) - references to uniquely distinguish the different actors in the scientific-academic ecosystem, namely Researchers, Organizations, Projects/Funding, Outputs and Scientific Infrastructures. PIDs are essential for scientific data to be localizable and accessible. They are also fundamental to ensure the unambiguous association between scientific data and the other elements of the ecosystem (researchers, organizations, funding, etc.), enabling a more accurate understanding of the interactions between the various actors and resources. 

In addition to PIDs, the adoption of standardized data models, semantics and controlled vocabularies are also fundamental to ensure interoperability and efficient integration of information in the science and technology ecosystem. The use of data models defined by best practices allows information to be structured in a standardized way, making it more readable for both machines and humans. This makes it easier to discover and access available resources, and allows for a more thorough analysis of the data. 

Controlled vocabularies, in turn, play a crucial role in standardizing the terms and concepts used in the academic-scientific ecosystem. By adopting controlled vocabularies, it is possible to avoid ambiguities and ensure consistency and accuracy of information. This facilitates the search and retrieval of relevant information, and promotes clearer and more efficient communication between the different actors of the ecosystem. 

And what are the benefits?

The benefits resulting from the development of an integrated scientific information ecosystem are multiple. First of all, there is the easier access to scientific activity and its results. The development of platforms and tools that promote access and sharing of scientific results. These resources favor interdisciplinary collaborations and, consequently, encourage innovation and the development of new scientific ideas. 

On the other hand, it is possible to ensure greater efficiency in the processes of production, management and access to reliable, complete and up-to-date data. These are fundamental to generate reliable indicators to monitor the impact of scientific policies and develop evidence-based strategies. 

Besides the fact that an integrated scientific information ecosystem allows for a greater capacity to integrate and harmonize data from various sources - thus enabling a holistic view of the scientific ecosystem - the possibility to simplify the management of information on scientific activity is also highlighted, with the adoption of standards and interoperability mechanisms that contribute to increasing administrative rationality and efficiency, reducing the bureaucratic burden that still falls on researchers.  

Such simplification has been materialized in the context of the curriculum management platform CIÊNCIAVITAE. Based on the PTCRIS standard and embedded in the mantra "Register once reuse always" since its conception, CIÊNCIAVITAE is integrated with a set of national and international systems that allows the import/synchronization of previously recorded data and, consequently, an estimated saving of over 5 million minutes in the recording of information.   

Thus, the standards and supporting infrastructure proposed by PTCRIS are not an end in themselves. Rather, they are the substrate for creating an enabling environment for collaboration, discovery and dissemination of knowledge. By promoting more efficient science management, the PTCRIS makes a major contribution to the consolidation of a knowledge-based economy, in which the knowledge produced is shared and reused, maximizing its impact. 

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