Science Technology Platforms


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Research Equipment Catalogue?

The Research Equipment Catalogue is a web-based catalogue of UCL's major research equipment, from across the whole university. The catalogue allows users to browse and search for items and contact the relevant custodian(s) through an enquiry form, or directly via email. The software can also be used by departments to manage and keep track of their equipment.

The catalogue is powered by the open source Kit-Catalogue software, developed by Loughborough University. 

Why was the catalogue created?

UCL produced the equipment catalogue in response to Research Councils UK's Wakeham Efficiency review. The catalogue is intended to maximise the use of equipment assets and prevent unnecessary expenditure on new equipment where appropriate facilities are already available.  All researchers are required to search the catalogue prior to making requests for Research Council funding for new equipment. Further guidance can be found on the Research Services web pages.

What are the main features?

The catalogue software was developed by Loughborough University in consultation with laboratory technicians, researchers and academics, and aims to meet the major needs of all these groups. The software stores and presents a wealth of information about pieces of equipment and facilities, including specifications, custodian details, locations, user guides, access requirements, usage data and photographs. 

The UCL catalogue, located at www.research-equipment.ucl.ac.uk, has been integrated with the university-wide single sign on system, allowing anyone with a UCL username and password to log in and view all items. A subset of items is visible without signing in, and can therefore be seen by the public. Facility and item owners determine whether their equipment is listed publicly, and can toggle visibility using the Item Editor tool within the software (see user guides for more details).

Each item in the UCL Equipment Catalogue can have the following information specified. Further details about each field can be found in the user guide.

Main Item DetailsContact InformationAccess & UsageLocationAsset & Finance
Short Description
Full Description
Manufacturer's website
Additional uploaded files (e.g. PDF manuals)
First staff contact name and email

Second staff contact name and email
Access level
Training required
Training provided
Last / Next Calibration date
Quantity detail
Site / campus
Asset Number
Finance ID/ Order Reference
Serial no.
Year of Manufacture
Date of Purchase
PAT due date

(these fields, if completed, are only viewable by item owners and departmental administrators)

What are the benefits of having an equipment catalogue?

Benefits for 'finders' - people looking for equipment:

  • The catalogue is populated with over 1700 items from across the university. By making all of this equipment information available in one place, researchers become more aware of what is available at UCL, potentially reducing the need and cost associated with travelling further afield, or outsourcing certain experiments.
  • A large amount of information can be stored with each record, allowing potential users to judge whether a particular item may be suitable for intended experiments. The catalogue can also serve as an educational resource, allowing students to learn more about available items or discover new applications for them.
  • A detailed listing of the equipment available across UCL encourages collaboration between groups and departments, and facilitates the pooling of knowledge and skills.
  • Equipment can be promoted externally to regional HEIs, to industry and to small / medium enterprises (SMEs), by marking such items as publicly visible and specifying in the description field that they are available for external hire. This can help to generate income for UCL laboratories.
  • By enabling public visibility for a number of items, the equipment catalogue could also attract prospective researchers and students to join the institution, on the basis of equipment already in place.

Benefits for 'keepers' - equipment owners and departmental administrative staff

    • Item owners can specify availability and visibility restrictions for each of their items, and each item has an online enquiry form associated with it, allowing internal or external individuals to make enquiries, which are sent directly to the named contact(s).
    • Following government cuts to capital budgets for Research Councils, UCL is often required to contribute up to 50% to the cost of high value equipment. A detailed listing of the equipment and facilities available across UCL can therefore prevent unnecessary spending, and by extension, will reduce the costs that would otherwise be associated with the technical and academic support of these items.

    What are the criteria for inclusion of items in the catalogue?

    In the first instance, the catalogue was populated with details of equipment valued over £25,000. However, individual departments are free (and encouraged) to add any equipment of lower value which may be available to others, within UCL and beyond it. Since the software supports visibility toggling, individual items can be made visible to UCL users only, or to the public, as desired. If you require any assistance in cataloguing, please contact us.

    Why is a UCL login necessary?

    Only a subset of the items listed in the catalogue can be viewed publicly. Your UCL log-in grants you access to see all items within the catalogue.

    Which items are public?

    Any items that equipment owners are happy to make accessible to users from outside the UCL community, as fee-charging facilities or for collaborative purposes, can be marked 'public'. Such listings can be viewed without having to supply UCL login credentials.

    Is there any guidance documentation available?

    Guidance documentation is available, covering everyday use of the catalogue, as well as catalogue administration. If you get stuck or need further assistance, please contact us.

    Additional information for equipment owners and departmental administrators:

    What is the role of an equipment owner?

    Equipment owners are those individuals named as primary or secondary contacts on any item or facility listing. They will receive any enquiries made through the catalogue. They can edit all of the details, including access and visibility, for any of their own items, but are not able to add new items - only configured departmental administrators can do this. 

    How can I add equipment to the Research Equipment Catalogue, and who ensures listings are kept up to date?

    This should be done via your Departmental Administrator / Divisional Institute Manager. These have overall responsibility for the items in their remit, and for adding new items.

    There is a list of catalogue departmental administrators (UCL login required), who have been assigned permissions to add, edit and delete items. Please contact the relevant individual(s) to request the addition or editing of item records. If your department is not in this list, or the contact(s) need to be updated, or new administrators configured, please contact us.

    Is there a user guide or documentation available?

    Guidance documentation is available, which includes sections on catalogue administration. If you get stuck or need further assistance, please contact us.

    Are there upper/lower limits on the value of equipment to be listed in the catalogue?

    When initially populating the catalogue, we collected information about all equipment valued over £25,000 across UCL, but this was just a starting point. If your department hosts items or facilities that you think could be useful for others, and which you may be willing to share, speak to your Departmental Administrator and/or contact us to have the details added to the catalogue - whatever the value.

    Can I use the Research Equipment Catalogue to assist with equipment maintenance and inventory reports?

    All departmental administrators are able to run customisable reports on the items in their department, via the administrative panel in the Kit-Catalogue software. CSV files (Microsoft Excel-compatible spreadsheets) of all equipment data can also be generated. 

    If more detailed reports are required, please contact us to discuss your requirements.