Capabilities Model Quick Start guide

A Step-by-Step Use of the Assessment Tool at your Institution

Step 1) Log on to the portal

  1. If you have not yet logged in, go to and follow the instructions to log on with your institutional credentials (e.g., your university).
    If your university is not listed in the CILogon list:
    1. Use one of the social logon options like Google or Microsoft.
    2. You will be prompted to verify your affiliation to an institution through email.

Step 2) Create an RCD Profile for your institution

  1. Answer the questions about your institution. If your institution is among those covered by IPEDS,[1] note that the associated data for your institution is presented in the RCD Profile.
  2. The typical case is for a profile and assessment is for the whole institution (e.g., your University). If that is your intent, you can skip the Organizational scope question. If you are completing an assessment for just one college or other unit within your institution, provide a name for that (and make that clear to your team!).
  3. Begin your assessment - you can review the sections, browse the questions, etc.

Step 3) Invite a team who can provide different perspectives

  1. Ideally, you should identify one or more people for each of the facings, to include that perspective in the assessment. However, in some small organizations, the different roles may be filled by just a few people and so one or a few people may fill out the assessment.
    1. Click on Manage Contributors in the left sidebar, and invite people with their email addresses.
    2. Once they log on and are listed as contributors, you can adjust the roles each one has.
    3. If you want to transfer the role of assessment manager to someone else, just make them a manager, and they can then make you a contributor.
    4. Choose someone to have the Submitter role, unless that will be you (as the creator). This is the only role that can submit the assessment when your work is complete.
  2. Consider including participants from areas outside the core Research Computing and Data teams, including the library, departmental support, institutes or centers, central IT partners, etc. Much of the assessment is based upon a researcher-centric view of support, and not a provider-centric view of services. Additional perspectives will help in understanding all the questions, and ensuring a balanced assessment of support.
    • It may be useful to review the questions in advance to determine who can best answer them. A summary list of questions is available in RCD Capabilities Model v2.0 Questions by Facing.
    • Some institutions also review the tool with a focus group of researchers, to get their perspective on the model.

Note: Some institutions choose to do a simpler assessment their first time, and just include a few key participants (e.g., an RCD support lead or equivalent plus someone from the library). The resulting assessment data may not be completely accurate and complete, but this can be a quick way to learn about the RCD Capabilities Model and explore how the resulting data, benchmarking reports, etc. can inform strategic planning, etc. at your institution.

Step 4) Ensure everyone understands the exercise

  1. Discuss the goals in completing the assessment tool, whether this is for peer benchmarking or for brainstorming ideas for strategic opportunities. While this should not influence the answers, it may impact the discussions as the team goes through the questions.
  2. Provide everyone involved with a link to (or copy of) the Introduction and Guide to Use, and discuss the Key Aspects of the Model together to ensure consistent use of the levels.
    • If you are not assessing your whole institution, discuss the organization scope with your team. Review the note on the scope of the Institution, in the section on Availability across institution.
  3. Emphasize that the focus of the assessment is on Research Computing and Data support, and not on campus IT generally, teaching and learning IT, research administration, etc.

Step 5) Divide up the work and fill in the assessment questions

  1. Note that the RCD-Nexus platform is designed to support collaboration; different teams can safely work independently of one another in different areas of the same assessment.
  2. As your team completes the questions for each topic, the computed total for that topic will update; once all topics are complete for a given Facing, the computed total for the Facing will update on the summary assessment page.
    • Questions with partial answers will be indicated as (WIP) (i.e., a work in progress) on the associated Topic page.
    • Topics will show progress on the associated questions, e.g., (WIP: 1 of 3); once all the questions are completed the computed coverage for that topic will be shown.
  3. You can capture questions or comments as you work, in the Work notes field for each capability. These are for use by your team, and are not included in the community dataset.
  4. If you wish to designate a particular capability/question as a priority for your team in the near term, you can assign it a priority using the Local Priorityfield. The range is from 1 to 99, where 1 is your highest priority.
    • Some institutions work with their advisory group to select priorities, in a second pass through the assessment.
    • However you choose to use the priorities feature, the values do not impact the computed coverage.

Step 6) Gather the team when the initial work is complete

  1. Discuss any questions or observations, and in particular try to ensure that the different teams used a common, consistent approach and interpretation of the aspects of the assessment tool.

Step 7) Submit your assessment and review your benchmarking report

  1. Once you are done with your work and are ready to submit your assessment, a user with the Submitter role can click the Submit button on the main assessment page.
    1. The RCD Capabilities Model data steward will review your assessment to ensure we communicated the intended use effectively, and raise any potential issues with you. If none are found (or when these have been resolved), the data steward will accept the submission into the Community Dataset.
    2. Once your assessment has been accepted, you will be able to go to the Data Portal and view benchmarking reports. You can configure the set of peers for comparison, and download reports and visualizations.
      [Note that this functionality is not yet released].

1 The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System. See