Inter Portal

Inter Portal

Our challenge, your solutions

Inter-Portal: Connecting research interest within a community

An opt-in web portal that will help Early Career Researchers make connections around research interests through different disciplines around the University of Edinburgh, using existing internal and external profile data sets.


Team: Eduhackers

Team members

Ana Hibert, Elaine Farrow, Alexia Revueltas, Sarah Austin

Members roles and background

Ana Hibert - Doctoral student in Education, focusing on learning analytics for English as a second language. Has an MSc in Education Research, is a Teacher in Higher Education and also has Degree in Literature.

Elaine Farrow - Doctoral student in Data Science, focusing on learning analytics. She has a MSc in Data Science, and has been a teacher for Higher Education.  

Alexia Revueltas - Doctoral student in Learning Sciences, focusing on early years engagement with science learning. Has an MSc in Cognitive Neuropsychology, a degree in Psychology and has worked with facial expressions of emotions and teaching robotics to children.

Sarah Austin - Doctoral student in Education, focusing on refugee teachers's identity and professional development for them in refugee camps. Has a MSc in Education Leadership, degree in School Teaching and Literature. 

Contact details

Solution description

A web-portal that connects Early Career Researchers interested to connect with other researchers with similar research interests across the University of Edinburgh (UoE), both within and outside their own schools using official academic profiles from the UoE webpages. It will do so by:

  1. Gathering simple data from the interested person, such as their name and university email address, and running it first within websites from the UoE (mainly where doctoral students are listed - this will be curated manually). After this first search, it will also search and collect data from external sites where academic profiles could be found (e.g. / ResearchGate).
    --> Both searches have the intention to provide with as much information as possible about research interests, location of the researcher and a mean of communicating with them that has been provided by said researcher (e.g. email address, webpage, twitter account, etc) and most importantly, form information that is already on the web.

  2. Once the search has provided all possible entries related to the query, the interested researcher can curate which information is accurate for them to start the search. If they consider they have different or missing information form the one provided, they will be encouraged to update these sites and run the search again.
    --> This is beneficial because it encourages people to use firstly their UoE academic profile and keeping it up to date.
    --> Also, by relying on data provided somewhere else it is avoiding accumulation of repeated data. 

  3. The selected information, along with UoE location, will be stored in the portal. The information will then be used look for and extract people with similar research interest from the UoE sites. 
    --> Using the portal will keep track of the users, considering this as a willingness to connect and collaborate, and will prioritise these people at the top of future searches. 


Solution context

Early Career Researchers (ECR) at the University of Edinburgh include around 4000 doctoral students along with an unknown amount of post doctoral researchers.

A frequent concern for these students is the isolation of their work, and the lack of academic connections with those who have similar research interests, both within their schools and with other disciplines in the university.  

This situation is amplified by the geographic context of the university, which is spead out across the city of Edinburgh. There is also a lack of uniformity in the university database, making it difficult to navigate towards finding others with similar research interests. This situation leads to missed learning and collaborative opportunities. 


Solution target group

The target group is Early-Career Researchers who wish to increase their academic connections within the University of Edinburgh. Since the website is opt-in, it will only involve those who are interested in finding people with similar research interes and connect to communicate. Nonetheless, it could also  be used by any other member of the University interested in creating connections, enhancing both interdisciplinary collaboration across the University, and collaboration between the early-career researchers and established researchers. 

Solution impact

  1. Enhancing collaboration within the University could be reflected in an increase of research projects, papers published and grant applications led by the University. 
  2. Creation of early research interest groups networks within the Early-Career Researchers community. This could benefit the University in the long-term, since they could provide ties that last beyond the ECR's time in the University, yet still providing a space to collaborate between the University and other institiuions with which the ECR's are collaborating. 

Solution tweet text

Find hot new researchers in your area! No effort required

Solution innovativeness

  1. Prioritising the local servers and webcontent from the University of Edinburgh making local research community easier to find and access.

  2. Uses already established academic profiles to mine for the data, which provides incentives to keep these profiles up to date. 

  3. Considers user's willingness to connect and collaborate, specially because it will not be a mandatory web-portal. 


Solution transferability

This solution can easily be applied to other communities that might be facing similar challenges, as it will only be a matter of limiting content and prioritising the search for the content within the community of interest. 

For example, it can be set up to different universites sites, favouring their communities and defaulting to their webcontent first or it could also enhance collaboration within different institutions, such as a group of universities across the world (e.g. Universitas 21/ Russell Group). 

Solution sustainability

Implementing the solution

This solution will need resources for the following: 

1. Programming the solution will requiere just an initial investment to develop the web-portal.

2. It could be deployable as part of the University of Edinburgh servers, aiming at presenting it to doctoral students as a tool part of their welcome package during their Induction Day, might need to train memebers of staff about this. 

3. Additionally it could need some funding to advertise it within the actual early-career researcher's community at the time of the creation. 


It relies on data sets which have already been created and for which researchers have provided data, reducing costs of development as well as  risks associated to data storage.


Needs little maintenance by developers once established. With time and further resources, it could be updated and polished to increase basic functionality

Self-sustained by new incoming Early-Career Researchers


Self-sustained by new incoming Early-Career Researchers

Update with Machine learning algorithm which could allow for unexpected connections, especially among people with varied interests. These connections could provide insights that would lead to the creation of new, innovative projects and could help the University rethink the structure of their programs, schools and/or departments. 

Solution team work

We were a multidisciplinary team (Informatics, education, learning sciences and social studies) that managed to interact positively, considering everyone's areas of expertise and discussing ideas from different perspectives. We managed to balance all opinions and created an atmosphere in which every member of the team was excited and willing to share their ideas, which led to very productive discussions about the best way to tackle the challenge.

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