(From left) Mr Sunny
Lee, Professor Lu Jian and Professor Christian Wagner
see CityU Scholars as a win-win system for the University.
Professor Lu is co-chair of the committee that has
been overseeing the development of CityU Scholars, a portal aimed at
demonstrating CityU’s research excellence.
“One of the great strengths of the new system is
the ability to streamline corresponding administrative procedures such as
performance appraisal and government reporting by reusing information from the
single source of truth,” Professor Lu added.
A soft launch for the system has been
underway since 18 April 2017, with the official launch occurring on 30 June
The new system was developed in response to calls from colleagues who
previously were required to repeatedly provide data that was quite similar,
albeit in slightly different formats. For example, the Performance-based
Pay Review system required data on publications, grants, and so forth, as did
the Office of VPRT's data collection exercise. The repeated data collections were
time-consuming, error-prone, and led to frustration.
“We consider the CityU Scholars system as an important step towards work
simplification,” commented Mr Sunny Lee Wai-kwong, CityU’s
Vice-President (Administration). “CityU is actively looking for ways to
re-engineer workflows and lower the administrative burden on staff. CityU
Scholars will do so by feeding validated performance data directly into the
e-APR forms that academic staff have to complete.”
So one fundamental objective has been to re-engineer the effort by
collecting the data just once, ideally at the source, such as the publisher.
“Academic staff would then only need to make moderate updates and
additions, while the data could be used for all reporting and decision-making
needs,” said Professor
Christian Wagner, Chief Information Officer and committee co-chair.
Other motivations included the need to replace old software in order to
raise the level of data accuracy and security and, from a competitive
perspective, the realisation that other local universities were using scholarly
information to showcase their research capability.
“Research activity is a key driver at CityU and the new system is highly
effective at showcasing our success,” Professor Wagner emphasised.
Putting the system into play has been a highly
complex undertaking. “The major challenge was the need to
redesign the data collection, validation and reporting process and to
successfully engage the many stakeholders involved in data cleansing and
workflow reengineering, all under a very tight timeline and resource
constraints,” explained Professor
“We needed to coordinate between the Research Grants and Contracts Office (RO), which has to report research
output; the Library (LIB), which focuses on data quality and access; Enterprise
Solutions Office (ESU), as service provider; academic staff, as system
users and data providers; academic management, as data user for planning and
decision making; Human Resources Office, as user related to performance
appraisal; as well as other parties,” he said.
Another challenge was to ensure that the new system would not only
replace the previous system used to record research information at CityU, but
also to add value to the public, academic staff, administrative offices, senior
management and the University as a whole.
Equipping academic staff with the ability to effectively use the system
and gaining their acceptance were recognised as key elements of success. The
project team, composed of RO, LIB and ESU staff, conducted various promotion
exercises, including a roadshow to senior members, academic and administrative
users before the soft launch.
To ensure a smooth transition, training classes with hands-on practice,
drop-in clinics and tailor-made training sessions are provided to equip all
users with the ability to competently deploy the CityU Scholars system,
according to Ms Lisa Kwan Lai-sheung, University Librarian. Staff who missed out on the training programmes will be able to refer to
the detailed user guides the
Library has prepared.
“Upon the official launch of the system, we will initiate an outreach
programme whereby CityU Scholars ambassadors will provide faculty members
with on-site assistance in their offices,” Ms Kwan added.
Single workflow, single truth
Ultimately, CityU Scholars is about creating a highly streamlined single
workflow and single source of truth where all the research outputs of a faculty
member can be accessed conveniently and with a minimum of administrative
“The new system is one of a kind in Hong Kong and it will greatly reduce
the amount of time colleagues have to spend on administrative duties while
providing a very useful, user-friendly means of compiling information about
scholars,” said Professor Lu.
“With a single truth as the starting point for collecting data we can
make life easier for everyone. So I would like to especially thank the project
team members from RO, LIB and ESU for their hard work and great contribution to
the success of the system,” he added.
The team behind CityU