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About the Portal

Who can use the portal?

The NIHR website and some portal services are available to the public. However, most of the portal functions and services are only available after logging in to the security-protected side of the portal. To access the secure side of the portal you, or your organisation, should make a request for the service and fulfil the following conditions:

  • You must carry out or support patient or people-based research
  • Have a salary which is funded, in part or in whole, from NIHR funding and/or the Department of Health's Policy Research Programme (PRP) funding
  • Are employed by a NHS organisation or a University

In exceptional circumstances portal access may be given to organisations or individuals who do not meet these criteria. Each request will be considered on an individual basis. In these circumstances please provide as much information as possible regarding your need for portal access.

Is the portal a new software system?

No. The portal uses Microsoft SharePoint 2007. This software system supports people and organisations dispersed across geographical locations that cannot be served by a traditional local area network. All you need to access the portal is a username, a password and an internet connected computer running a web browser. Public portal services and your organisation's private portal site are then accessible from any location worldwide.

Microsoft SharePoint 2007 is a dynamic tool which can be routinely configured to suit a specific organisational need - such as connecting to a business critical database and/or the presentation and formatting of information from that database.

SharePoint 2007 is also a powerful administration service for a distributed organisation. Its shared folders and document repositories provide a central point for storing and accessing all corporate documents such as style guides, templates for letters and faxes, business cards, timesheets and annual leave requests. Having these stored centrally and permanently accessible means a reduced administrative burden when a global change - such as the appointment of a new member of staff or a corporate logo alteration - is required.

Will the Portal need anything installed on my PC or laptop?

No. The portal works through a web browser and requires no software other than a browser to be installed. You will usually need Microsoft Office, which is a standard desktop office suite for NHS Trusts and Universities, to access documents on the Portal.. You will need Adobe Reader software to access documents stored or presented as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. Again, this is a common application in use across the NHS and academic community, however it is freely available from Adobe at http://www.adobe.com

What can the Portal offer my organisation?

We can provide the following for organisations associated with the NIHR:

  • Public portal services

The public face of the portal does not require any log-on information. It provides news and information about the NIHR as well as links to services and sites of interest to the research community. Limited access is available to some portal features such as a contact directory of researchers. If your organisation currently hosts a web service which is available to the public, we may be able to provide this service through the portal.

Contact the NIHR at http://servicedesk.nihr.ac.uk for more information.

  • Private portal hosting

The portal provides a secure business environment where you can store files, calendars and information of interest to your own staff, hold discussion forums and build workflows to support document control and other business activities, such as studies.

To provide access, we require a list of users and the name of a suitable Information Systems (IS) administrator who can provide training resources in order to build a collaborative site for your organisation.

Contact the NIHR at http://servicedesk.nihr.ac.uk for more information.

How much will the portal cost for my organisation to use?

There are no ongoing costs associated with using the portal for NIHR associated organisations, other than the potential provision of a site administrator. The portal project is an integral part of the NIHR IS Programme which has been established by the Department of Heath to underpin the government's health research strategy: Best Research for Best Health. Depending on the size of the organisation and the intensity of portal usage, a site administrator to manage content may be required. This may be up to one full time equivalent member of staff, typically an IT literate person with some experience of web design or technologies.

How secure will my information be when it is stored on the Portal?

The security of the portal is paramount and integral to the success of the NIHR IS Programme. The portal project has employed security professionals to run information assurance workshops with the project team, to identify and address security issues, and operate technical penetration tests to simulate the attack of a 'hacker'. The process of testing will continue at regular intervals through the operational lifespan of the portal to ensure your information is kept secure.

What level of support can users expect from the NIHR?

Portal users have access to a helpdesk facility by telephoning 0113 343 0355 or emailing servicedesk@nihr.ac.uk.

The helpdesk will help to resolve problems, reset passwords, create new accounts and pass information about the services to the user. In addition, the local site administrator for each organisation will be able to offer support specific to their own users. See the helpdesk page for more information.

How can I gain access to portal services?

You should fill out the Request for Portal Services form which you can access using the link at the end of this page. The form will be sent electronically to http://servicedesk.nihr.ac.uk .  If you have any general queries relating to the Portal, or would like to send supporting information for your application, please use this email address.  Note that we are currently only supporting requests from organisations or teams, not from individuals.

Click here for Portal Support Request