The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a Statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) was established to support basic research in all frontier areas of science and engineering. The SERB started its operation in the year 2011. In order to build a transparent process incorporating global benchmarks an electronic Project Proposal Management system (ePPMS) was developed. Starting with one program in the year 2014, the online portal presently hosts almost all the programs of SERB. For leveraging the data that is being continually generated, development of a comprehensive Management Information System (MIS) was envisaged. The MIS was conceptualised to entail two components, an internal system for report generation and decision support and an external public portal to provide information about SERB funded projects. To make the system complete in all respects, it was decided to digitise and archive the offline files starting from 2011 onwards. The development of the MIS was entrusted to CDAC Noida.

The SERB Project Information System and Management (SERB – PRISM) is the external public portal developed as part of the MIS. The information made available in PRISM are drawn from two sources:

  • (i) Offline project files from 2011 onwards, that have been digitised and archived
  • (ii) Online project files from SERB online portal starting from 2014 onwards

The SERB-MIS was thus custom built with a mixed architecture to integrate data from two different systems and formats. Within the heterogeneous databases, complex queries fetch required data dynamically from both the online system and offline repository while maintaining data integrity.

About 7500 offline project files have been digitized as searchable PDFs (metafiles). Metadata fields were created for different programs and associated data of individual files were retrieved manually in a structured manner. The data entry was validated by a two-level process to ensure data accuracy. The digitized offline files and their data have been archived and integrated with the MIS. While all the online project files are part of the PRISM, some of the offline files are in the process of digitization and would be made available in due course.

To ensure data purity, manual data entry into the system is not facilitated. The project output is extracted from the Annual Reports and Project Completion Reports of individual projects. If Principal Investigators (PIs) of SERB sanctioned projects need to update their project output, it could be done through the SERB online system only. PRISM would automatically update the project output as and when an entry is made in the SERB online portal through the PI dashboard.