6. Meeting Strategic Objectives I: Research

One of the stated objectives in the mission statement of OUCS, and echoed in the Corporate Plan (§VI(d)), is to:

‘foster and support excellence, innovation, best practice, and value for money in the use of IT in teaching, learning, and research across the University’

OUCS has a dedicated support unit — the Research Technologies Service (RTS) (Specifically mentioned in §102.) (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/rts/) which, through funding from external bodies, develops cutting edge applications to support research, and provides advisory services for the University and beyond. The activities of the RTS complement the infrastructure and other support services provided by OUCS.

As described in the Corporate Plan the RTS is a centre of expertise supporting the development of research e-infrastructure, including e-science/e-research (§102). The RTS is working with other University departments to develop Virtual Research Environments (VRE) (Ib, and Ig). In connection with this, the RTS will also collaborate with the Interdisciplinary e-Research Centre (IeRC) and other relevant University units to investigate the development of tools to support the administration and auditing of research activity (Id). This activity includes an emphasis on assisting with project management and the sharing of research information and outputs, especially across disciplinary boundaries. One example of current activity in this area is the development of a Research Discovery Service (RDS) by the Academic Computing Development Team (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/acdt/) in partnership with the Medical Sciences Division and the Research Technologies Service. The RDS will be offered to other divisions also.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:

  • Develop infrastructure and tools for the next generation of collaborative research environments and provide a communications forum, both internal and external, for Oxford's VRE activities. This will also help articulate subsequent responses from Oxford to future relevant funding opportunities. Target date: Ongoing (VRE); April 2006 (forum).
  • Develop and launch an online Research Discovery Service available to all divisions. Target date: MT 06. Cost: Developed by the ACDT, but maintenance cost c.£15k pa.
  • Investigate how Shibboleth and other access management protocols offers solutions to issues of grid authentication, authorisation and security; and in providing integration between institutional and national information environments. We will ensure that the outcomes from the RTS access management projects are considered by and, where appropriate, incorporated into any institutional access management implementation plan. Target date: Sept 2006 (Funded via ESP-Grid, SPIE and ShibGrid projects)
  • Inform and advise the UK HE and FE community about open source software and open standards through briefing materials, events, advisory service and partnerships (on going). In addition, develop and communicate best practice models for software development, especially in regard to open source software licensing. Target date: July 2006. (Funded via the JISC OSS Watch advisory service)
  • Make available resources and services via the UK National Grid Service and support researchers in the academic community to grid-enable research applications; assist in the implementation and deployment of Grid technologies; and, in collaboration with the IeRC, contribute to the development and use of the campus grid. (Ongoing, funded via NGS compute cluster).
  • Proactively support the establishment of an institutional research repository, particularly through participation in the Digital Archiving Group. (Ongoing)
  • Promote OUCS (and other) services for assisting in the development of funding proposals for e-research and the application of best practice in the creation, use and preservation of digital resources. Within this context we will also enable a forum to bring together research projects to share best practice, business and sustainability models. Target date: May 2006. Funded via activities such as Oxford Text Archive, Humbul Humanities Hub, VREs etc.
  • Co-ordinate, on behalf of OUCS, a range of awareness-raising and training activities relating to services and technologies to support e-research. Target date: October 2006. Funded through existing initiatives.
  • Through participating in the ICT Strategy and subsequent implementation planning, assist in developing an e-research support strategy which addresses the need for clear, coherent and co-ordinated IT support for research, whether projects or individual scholars. (Sept 2006)

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