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Title: Developing a web-based research administration and management system : case study of a South African higher education institution
Authors: Nyirenda, Misheck 
Issue Date: Jun-2017
Research has become one of the major activities of higher education institutions (HEIs) worldwide. Increasingly important is research information that emanates from the published research as it has now become one of the major sources of funding especially within the South African higher education landscape. However, many HEIs are facing numerous problems managing research information to sustain and attract more funding. The lack of resources to build or acquire appropriate systems for managing research information has been identified as one of the major challenges in HEIs. However, recent studies show that advancements have been made in some countries to address the challenge. For instance, in South Africa, a proprietary research information management system (RIMS) has been implemented in some HEIs. Nevertheless, some HEIs still face problems regarding the use of RIMS. Studies further show that most proprietary systems do not adequately satisfy requirements as desired by the HEIs. This is mostly because proprietary systems are developed without fully understanding the user requirements of individual HEIs. Moreover, most proprietary systems are developed following ad hoc approaches which neglect the requirements specification stage in the development life cycle. Requirements specification is important as it brings developers and users to a common understanding about the requirements of the system before development. The initial lack of consensus about system requirements results in systems that have technical barriers which make users shun from using them. For instance, such systems do not adapt very well to devices with small screens such as mobile phones, and do not have attractive interfaces to make users want to use them. Proprietary systems are also costly to acquire and maintain. Moreover, HEIs may not be able to immediately implement the new desired features in the system because proprietary systems usually do not allow them access to the source code. This study develops a web-based research administration and management system (RAMS) as a proposed solution to the problems of using a proprietary system to manage research information at a South African higher education institution. The study emphasises the use of formal methods for requirements specification to build an optimal system. Consequently, the Zermelo-Fraenkel Z specification language was used to specify the requirements of the proposed system which was developed in close collaboration with the intended users who also assessed its usability. The system evaluation responses were made on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. The overall results of the evaluation show that RAMS is usable and suitable for managing research information, nonetheless improvements are recommended.
Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements for the Master's Degree in Information and Communication Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa, 2017.
Appears in Collections:Theses and dissertations (Accounting and Informatics)

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