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RAE 2008 data collection system released

3 January 2007

The RAE team has released the data collection system for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.

This release follows a four-month period in which higher education institutions (HEIs) trialled a pilot version of the web-based system, which has been newly developed by the RAE team for the RAE 2008. The system allows users to prepare submissions by entering data through a web browser. All data is securely stored in a central database located at HEFCE and database maintenance and support is provided centrally by RAE team staff.

Over 2000 users were registered on the system during the pilot phase, ensuring that the system has been thoroughly used in "real world" conditions. Throughout the pilot, users reported bugs and enhancements to the system and many took part in two scheduled load tests to help gauge the system's capacity to cope with a large number of simultaneous users. Alongside continuing with in-house testing, the development team incorporated bug fixes and numerous enhancements in a series of system rebuilds. Data entered into the system by institutions during the pilot phase has been retained in the final release version.

A survey of key users in each HEI in November confirmed that the system is fit for its intended purpose of making submissions in the RAE 2008. Notwithstanding some institutions' desire to see further enhancements, the release of the system was endorsed by the steering group of sector colleagues that has advised the development team on the system design and functionality over the last two years.

This release version contains all of the core functionality required to enter, validate and print submission data, although the functionality to enable submissions will be incorporated in a later rebuild scheduled for June 2007. Further rebuilds may be required in order to implement any bug-fixes that might arise. Rebuilds will not affect institutions' data.

Further details on how to use the RAE 2008 data collection system and links to comprehensive user documentation are available from the Data collection section of this web-site.