Muscat: More than 400 research project proposals have been submitted under Oman’s COVID-19 research programme, through an online portal that helps ministries and other institutions quickly access and vet projects.
Called the Research Information Management System (RIMS), this online portal helps sift through projects faster to enable quicker funding and more efficient research, as well as provides access to a database of research projects, and enables researchers to contact each other to collaborate.
The RIMS is part of the newly-launched Oman Research Portal, which provides services to researchers looking to work on programmes launched by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (MOHERI).
According to Idris bin Said Al Hasani from MOHERI, apart from the more than 400 research proposals received, another 738 were submitted through RIMS for its Block Funding Programme, which provides funding for student and graduate researchers in the country for projects across a wide range of subjects.
“The service provides researchers with information that tracks the status of the research support requests and the various stages of evaluation they go through,” he said.
“It is equipped with a programmed alert or notification feature through e-mail messages. The service also allows evaluation committees in research institutions to receive proposals, evaluate them completely and request any modifications from the researcher electronically, in addition to having the ability to make decisions about whether to accept or reject proposals.”
External arbitrators tasked with overseeing research are also incorporated into the system, which enables them to complete the evaluation process and make any observations they have.
“During the project implementation period, research institutions can manage the project financially and technically through RIMS, as well as submit requests related to changing the makeup of their research teams or modifying the time period they require.
The RIMS also helps submit and evaluate performance reports electronically. “The service has been designed with clear and unified paths for all programmes that serve all users, be they individual researchers or organisations,” he added. There are 16,560 researchers and 4,956 arbitrators registered in the ORP. Funding has so far been provided for 1,229 projects. The portal contains 1,711 publications, 1,374 scientific journals, and 561 research projects.
Subscribers to the ORP also receive access to other online research facilities, said Nasser Al Mandhari, director of the Oman Research Portal Project at MOHERI.
These include the Oman Research Repository (Shuaa), Oman Research and Education Network (OMREN), EJAAD, the National Equipment and Facilities Database (iLab), and Masader (Oman Virtual Science Library).
iLab is a web-based system that helps researchers locate and learn about the available research equipment in the Sultanate to assist them in undertaking research and scientific measures.
It displays the status of available equipment, how to request it, and the cost of its usage, and it aims to centralise and list all local research equipment and facilities to efficiently utilise available resources and optimise research activities.
“The portal includes many research services such as the Taawun platform, which is an interactive platform that facilitates communication between researchers and those interested in research and innovation,” he said.
“The portal facilitates the process of communication between users, research centres, and institutions in the country,” added Al Mandhari.
“It also provides quick access to national and international research systems and easy access to research topics, publications and project outputs, in addition to presenting research-related news, research statistics, research projects and submissions, and more,” Al Mandhari further said.