Virtual Research Environments examines making Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usable by researchers working to solve “grand challenge” problems in many disciplines from social science to particle physics. It is driven by research the authors have carried out to evaluate researchers’ requirements in using information services via web portals and in adapting collaborative learning tools to meet their more diverse needs, particularly in a multidisciplinary study.
This is the motivation for what the authors have helped develop into the UK Virtual Research Environments (VRE) programme. They illustrate generics with specific instances of studies carried out comparing portal technologies and evaluating usability. This work, and further development of collaboration and Webbased research tools has been carried out with international collaborators, in particular using the Sakai framework and other recent Java-language based portal programming frameworks and associated standards.
The book is divided into a number of chapters providing motivation, illustrations, comparisons of technology and tools, practical information about deployment and use and comments on issues and difficulties in ensuring uptake of e-Science and Grid technology by already practicing researchers.
- Definition of Virtual Research Environments and e-Research with analogies to Virtual Learning Environments
- Compilation about how e-Research is carried out with reference to work in UK and USA on portals and services for collaborative learning, shared information services and repositories and their application for multi-disciplinary research
- Description of Science Gateways to distributed research resources (Grid computing, data and Web 2.0 style collaboration tools) and their relevance to the grand challenges facing research requiring large teams
About the Author
Robert Allan, STFC Daresbury Laboratory, UK
Table of Contents
Motivation and requirements
Creating and using research data
Managing and using digital information
Collaboration, trust and security
Domain differences and usability
VRE architecture: the technology
E-infrastructure and grid resources
Desktop environments and the web
The Sakai collaborative learning and research framework
Example 1: E-infrastructure for social science research
Example 2: E-infrastructure for experimental facilities
Conclusions: lessons learned and limitations