The limit of 300,000 publications reached – VIRTA Publication Information Service gathers up-to-date comparison data on higher education institutions' and research institutes' publications

VIRTA Publication Information Service is a solution outsourced to CSC by the Ministry of Education and Culture. It collects data on the scientific publications of Finnish universities, universities of applied sciences, research institutes and university hospitals, offering commensurable and up-to-date data on their publication activities.  

The service now contains the metadata of over 300,000 publications.

VIRTA Publication Information Service was launched in 2016. Among other things, its data are used for allocations of universities' and universities of applied sciences' budget funding models.  

The data gathered in the service are also widely usable for different systems and services. VIRTA Publication Information System was introduced by the Academy of Finland for such purposes as its project reporting in 2017 and applications as from fall 2018. 

Thanks to a functionality implemented in the Academy of Finland's application and reporting service, researchers no longer need to enter their publication data manually. They can now easily retrieve their publications listed in VIRTA, using such search terms as the author's name, and select them for inclusion in their applications.  

This functionality was used for the first time in a call for applications that ended on 1 October 2018. During the application period, 345,000 API queries were run in VIRTA service.

Due to the large number of queries, short outages unfortunately occurred in the service, especially during the last week of the application period. Based on the experiences obtained, the technical problems will be eliminated, ensuring that the service will operate without interruptions in the future.

Coverage of publication data to be improved

Most organizations automatically upload their data to VIRTA on a daily basis. From some, data are only obtained once a year, and the service is thus not yet fully up to date in the case of all organizations.  

The data in VIRTA Publication Information Service currently goes back to 2011, and the service only contains publications produced by Finnish organizations. In cooperation with the higher education institutions and research institutes producing data, an effort is being made to improve the coverage of the publication data. This will make it possible to also include the data of older publications in the service, or those published by researchers affiliated to foreign organizations.  

The aim is to persuade the few research institutes that are currently not participating in the service to join it and to improve the timeliness of the data.

In the future, VIRTA service will hopefully also be used by other financiers of research and service providers in their own systems, avoiding the need to enter the same data manually several times.    

CSC is currently working on uploading the data in VIRTA Publication Information Service to the OpenAIRE service funded by the European Union, which offers access to open science in Europe. The expansion of the VIRTA concept into a European publication database is also being piloted with the European Network for Research Evaluation in the Social Sciences and the Humanities (ENRESSH).  

In Finland, this operating model is currently being built up as a national data warehouse for research, in which the metadata of not only publications but also other research outputs could be available for different services.