JISC Web of Science Tender Document

20 October 1999

Request for proposals from JISC Datacentres to operate the ISI Web of Science service from 1st September 1999

Background  |  Tender Information  |  Evaluation Process and Criteria  |  Funding Arrangements  |  Annex A  | Annex B  |  Annex C
  • Background

1. The current ISI service is the most heavily used online service supported by JISC and is, probably, the most heavily used of any online service in UK HE.

2. The ISI data has been provided under two successive five-year contracts, negotiated and managed by CHEST, on behalf of the JISC.  CHEST is currently finalising a third five-year contract with ISI in order that the service to the community can continue.

3. This new contract will be for both the data and the service software known as "Web of Science" or WoS. This means that users will have a change of interface from the current service, and will no longer have a telnet access route.  In order to facilitate a smooth transition, the new WoS service will run in parallel with the existing service from 1 September 1999 to 30 June 2000.

4. WoS is a "pre-packaged" product with software and data already prepared.  The initial software and data comes on a DAT or DLT tape and updates are available by ftp.  The initial installation of the trial WoS service run by NISS took well under a day to set up on a SUN server and become operational.  It requires less than a quarter of a day per week for updating and maintenance.

5. A basic ATHENS integration will be developed and tested on the NISS trial WoS service and this will be available to the Datacentre that is selected to run the service.

6. Proposals should recognise that WoS is a rapidly developing service and the successful proposal must take account of this and be prepared to work with JISC, ISI, JIBS and CHEST to ensure new features and functionality are made available to users where appropriate.

7. There is a substantial amount of concern in the user community about the proposal to move from the current interface to WoS.  The successful datacentre will need to develop a strategy for implementing the changeover to the new service. This will involve liaising with the user community through JIBS and other user groups, and providing mechanisms to take account of the issues that are raised.  The user community is expected to request additional functionality of the WoS, based on their experience in using the current ISI service.  Although it may not be possible to influence ISI in these matters, the successful tenderer will be required to put mechanisms in place to ensure user requirements are fully understood and are relayed to ISI through appropriate channels.  It will also be necessary to provide feedback to the user community on such issues.

8. ISI are anxious that the service is clearly branded as a product of ISI and not the Datacentre running it.  While the formal name of the service will be the "ISI Web of Science Service for UK Higher Education" any shorter form of name must have the agreement of both ISI and JISC.

  • Tender Information

9. Invitations are invited from JISC funded Datacentres to host the Web of Science (WoS) service from 1 September 1999 to 31 August 2005.  Details of the service requirements can be found at Annex A.

10. The successful Datacentre will need a suitable hardware configuration (see Annex A), connection to the network, and sufficient operational management to ensure the system is running reliably. The centre must be connected to JANET at 155 mbps.

11. The initial service will need to be able to handle at least 500 concurrent user sessions in the first instance and to be able to expand to 1000 concurrent users by September 2000.

12. The successful Datacentre will be required to agree appropriate Service Level Definitions with the MAU.  Further details can be found at Annex B.

13. The Datacentre will be responsible for all user support, awareness, training and advisory functions.  It must provide email, telephone and fax support during all normal office hours.  It is expected to carry out a range of training programmes and to provide a range of appropriate awareness and support materials. Additional responsibilities include liaison with CHEST to ensure that all aspects of the data provision contract are correctly incorporated in the service and liaison with MAU to report under the SLA.  The Datacentre may not offer a service to institutions outside the list of institutions in the CHEST-ISI agreement without the permission of JISC, CHEST and ISI.

14. The planned service will have several "optional extras" for institutions that wish to take them, and the Datacentre will need to have sufficient capacity to accommodate these.  The "optional extras" and their requirements are listed in Annex C.  Note that there may need to be evidence of sufficient demand for an optional extra before JISC approves its provision, and it then would be offered via the CHEST agreement.

15. The service must operate with existing ATHENS "Access" and "Personal" usernames and passwords from 1 September 1999, both during the overlap period with the BIDS ISI service, and subsequently.  It should be noted that both shared and personal user accounts, if authorised, must be allowed access to the service as is presently the case.  A basic ATHENS integration will be provided to the datacentre, but this may need to be extended at a later date if the WoS service is extended to link to various full text resources.

16. The Datacentre running the service at the end of the agreement period will be required to generate an archive of the data in a suitable format for those institutions that have subscribed to the "Archive" option.

17. The costs of operating the service will be met by a grant from JISC. The basis on which JISC provides grant support for such services is described in 'Funding Arrangements' below.  Proposals to run the service should clearly identify the set up costs (including hardware and software) and the recurrent costs for 1 September 1999 – 31 July 2000 and the subsequent five Academic Years (1 Aug – 31 July).

18. JISC reserves the right to transfer Web of Science to another Datacentre should it deem it appropriate.  In this event, twelve months notice will be given. The interface should be such that a transfer can be facilitated within this time period.

  • Evaluation Process and Criteria

19. An evaluation panel will be established with membership drawn from JISC, the HE community and ISI.

The criteria used to decide will include assessments of:

- proposed service levels;
- proposed support for transition from the current service;
- proposed plans and costs for meeting future user expansion;
- proposed ways of meeting the specific issues raised in this Request for Proposals;
- experience with this type of data and user service;
- proposed mechanisms for liasing with users and ISI
- arrangements for protecting JISC's investment in the service, should any aspect be contracted out to a third part organisation
- value for money.

20. Candidates will be required to give a presentation to this panel on 14 April 1999 in Centre Point.

21. Responses should be sent to David Cook, JISC Secretariat, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QD. no later than midday on 31 March 1999.

22. General enquiries to this invitation should be addressed to David Cook (e mail: d.cook@jisc.ac.uk, tel 0117 9317250).

  • Funding Arrangements

23. JISC's funds are allocated annually by the funding councils,  and they are effectively obtained by a deduction from the block grants which would otherwise have been paid direct to institutions. This has consequences for the pattern and composition of the awards which can be made:

i) Although the JISC intends to continue funding successful services which run beyond the current year, those funds can only be fully confirmed on an annual basis as are university block grants.

ii) No individual institution (as distinct from the project itself or the community as a whole), should gain any significant incidental benefit from support by JISC, unless it can be shown that it would be impossible for the project objectives to be achieved in any other way.  It follows that although, for example, hardware purchase and hardware maintenance are eligible for support, such content in proposals will need to be fully justified.

iii) JISC support will not be provided for Institutional overheads.

iv) JISC support will not be provided in advance of need; while such items as staff salaries will be covered by recurrent monthly payments, purchases will only be reimbursed against claims.

  • Annex A

Service Requirements – Hardware /Software Platform


1. The platforms for running the service should be able to meet the following requirements:

500 concurrent users from 1 September 1999

1000 concurrent users from 1 September 2000

and providing response times of less than 5 seconds for a simple search (as measured at the server) and to be able to expand flexibly and at low cost to meet further expansions.  Sufficient disc space should be provided to meet current requirements and must be expandable to meet the growth in filestore needs over the period of the agreement.  The tender should also outline how the service would handle an increase in the number of users to 1500 should the need arise.

2. The selected Datacentre will be responsible for meeting the service level agreement set by MAU and selecting the equipment needed to achieve this.  Some information is provided below to help Datacentres identify the configuration that might be suitable but no responsibility can be taken by JISC for the accuracy or relevance of this information.

3. ATHENS authentication must be available from 1 September 1999 and must operate so that users may access both the new WoS service and the current BIDS service at will during the overlap period.  A basic ATHENS integration will be developed by NISS and tested on the NISS trial service.  This will be made available to the selected Datacentre.  As the trial service runs WoS version 4 on a SUN Solaris server this will be the implementation provided by NISS.  It will be available by 1 July 1999.

Configuration Information

4. ISI provide basic system information for running a WoS service at:

http://www.isinet.com/products/citation/wos.html (Please note that this link is no longer available on the ISI site and the link has now been removed.)

5. Please note that while WoS can run on:
DecAlpha (Unix)
SUN Sparc (Solaris)
IBM RS-6000 (Aix)

the development and certification platform used by ISI is SUN Sparc.  AiX and DEC ports usually follow about 3 to 4 months after the SUN version.
Additional Information that may be helpful

1. The current trial service runs on a SUN E450 with 4 processors and 1 Gigabyte RAM.

2. ISI run their service on SUN systems.  One of their servers is quoted as being an E4000 with 6 cpus, 1 Gigabyte RAM, and at peak times is supporting 325 simultaneous sessions.  ISI state that on one of our servers from a total domain of 325 simultaneous sessions at peak we clocked only 63 searches.  See below:-

Daily sum of sessions:    6062
Daily sum of searches:  30734
Searches at peak minute(s):      63
Sessions at peak minute(s):     325 Average search times for topic searches is under 3 seconds".

3. Note: it should not be assumed that present BIDS ISI concurrent user sessions equate to WoS simultaneous sessions.

4. Where Datacentres need additional technical information from ISI they should email Rick Else, Technical Support and Services Manager (Email: relse@isinet.com).

Service Requirements - User Support

a) How, and at what levels of staffing and response will user support be provided?  In particular the following should be covered:

b) what helpdesk facilities will be made available by telephone, fax or by electronic-mail or both?

c) what online help, training and tutorial facilities will be made available, and what provision will there be for "training the trainers"?

d) what error reporting and bug-fixing arrangements will be in place to ensure maximum service availability?

e) what user interest groups might be facilitated and how these might be managed and supported?

f) what support for user registration, administration etc will be provided?

g) what promotion of the service will be undertaken

h) what documentation and other written materials will be provided:

(i) free
(ii) at a price.  Indicate intended prices.

  • Annex B
Service Level Definitions

The Service Level Definitions will include the following, which you should address in your tender

B1 Availability of Service
- 99% scheduled up time (minimum)
- database updates to be performed within two working days (maximum) of receipt of data
- user response time for a simple search less than 5 seconds

B2 Number of Concurrent Users
- 500 (minimum) from 1 September 1999
- 1000 (minimum) from 1 September 2000

B3 Network Access Capacity
- local network access from the JANET backbone through to the WoS server capable of supporting (minimum) 500 users from 1 September 99 and 1000 users from 1 September 2000

B4 User Support
- help desk staffed on weekdays from 09.00hrs till 17.00hrs with sufficient capacity to handle (estimated average) 100 enquiries per week
- enquiries handled by telephone, email, fax and post, with initial response within four working hours
- escalation procedure for the reporting of errors to the supplier (to be defined)

B5 User registration/Authentication
- ATHENS integration using 'Access' and 'Personal' user names

B6 Training
- online training and tutorial facilities (to be defined)

B7 Documentation
- (to be defined)

B8 Promotion and marketing
- outreach programme (to be defined)
- mechanisms for liaison with the user community (to be defined)

  •  Annex C
"Optional Extras"

Item Requirements Notes

Current Contents
7 Gbytes
It is assumed that a constant one year of Current Contents data would be maintained

Journal Citation Reports
1 Gbyte
Will be ISIs own web site initially, and may then get transferred to the DataCentre

Additional back years
approx 7 G bytes per additional year
ISI have plans to extend their back files from the current start date, possibly as far back as the 1940s

1 Gbyte

ChemServe – Compound Centre
Approx 6 Gbyte
Will become available later in 1999

ChemServe – Reaction Centre
Approx 10 Gbyte
13 year backfile