Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network
Inter-Agency Development Research Information System Database
INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT RESEARCH CENTRE
Information is a crucial raw material in scientific research, no matter what the discipline. Academic literature, monographs, reference books, articles, statistics, workshop reports, and other forms of information enable researchers to keep abreast of programs in their field and to learn about new developments in other fields. Without up-to-date knowledge, scientists risk reinventing the wheel or simply wasting valuable time and resources.
The Inter-Agency Development Research Information System (IDRIS) is a cooperative database of international development research projects. IDRIS was created in 1983 by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and five other international agencies to share information about the research projects each was funding. The service helps researchers obtain information relevant to their work by giving them access to a pool of project-related information about the Third World. Much of this information is not available anywhere else. IDRIS is maintained on the MINISIS database management system designed by IDRC.
IDRIS is managed by the founding-member agencies; technical aspects are coordinated by IDRC. To date, the database contains information on the projects of IDRC, the Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with Developing Countries (SAREC), the German Appropriate Technology Exchange (GATE), the International Foundation for Science (IFS), the Board on Science and Technology for International Development (BOSTID), the Netherlands Universities Foundation for International Cooperation (NUFFIC), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and the United Nations University (UNU). Altogether, there are more than 6 000 records describing research activities.
A sample IDRIS screen is available.
Who Uses IDRIS?
There are different ways of becoming involved in the IDRIS database. Some organizations access or search the database but do not contribute data. This group includes many institutions in the development community, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). Other agencies use the database and contribute data about their research activities.
Access to the information in IDRIS is available to anyone. The database is accessible directly via the Datapac communications network and indirectly through search requests to the IDRC Library in Ottawa or through many other of the participating agencies. IDRIS is also available from IDRC on tape.
Although participants are currently comprised of donor agencies, any organization, in both developed and developing countries, engaged in development-related research is eligible for inclusion. Participating agencies determine which of their research activities they want to input. The participating agency will be identified as a contributor in information disseminated about IDRIS. Members of the participant group are given access to the ENVOY electronic mailbox system on the Datapac network, and receive the IDRIS newsletter, Communique. Participants are encouraged to communicate with each other, as well as with the IDRIS Project Coordinator at IDRC, over the ENVOY system.
IDRC provides the following reference tools:
- the IDRIS System specification manual, which contains guidelines for data input;
- the International Standards Organization (ISO) codes for countries and currencies;
- the third edition of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) Macrothesaurus (for subject keywords and geographical names); and
- IDRC's list of acronyms and names for institutions.
IDRC will provide the IDRIS database on tape or diskette in ISO 2709, MINISIS BATCHIN, or Micro CDS/ISIS formats. The database is kept current with updated tapes supplied every 6 months. Participants are also provided input worksheets and a user's guide.
Private fields can be defined so that agencies can maintain their own data within the database. Technical assistance and advice may also be provided by the IDRIS Project Coordinator if the participating agency wants to set up its own copy of the database on a local computer.
Costs and Training
IDRC assumes most of the cost of technical support, including telecommunications costs after the Datapac network is accessed. It is unnecessary to automate an agency's operations to participate in IDRIS. If an agency does automate, the initial investment in equipment and data collection will be the highest cost of participating.
Training is based on individual needs. Arrangements can be made by contacting the IDRIS Project Coordinator.
Data can be input to IDRIS through tapes or diskettes sent to IDRC in ISO 2709, MINISIS BATCHIN Format (any word-processing system can produce the BATCHIN format), or in some of the more common microbased systems such as Knowledgeman or Mini-micro CDS/ISIS. Alternatively, IDRC will input data submitted on worksheets on a cost-recovery basis.
For more information on becoming a participant or accessing information, please contact the IDRIS Project Coordinator at the following address:
Information Sciences Division
International Development Research Centre
P.O. Box 8500
Ottawa, Ontario K1G 3H9
Cable: RECENTRE OTTAWA
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Last modified 21 February 1995.