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) 6 (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 (§102). The RTS is working with other University departments to establish the ICT requirements of their research communities and to develop Virtual Research Environments (VRE) (Ib, and Ig). In connection with this, the RTS will also collaborate with the Oxford e-Research Centre (OeRC7) 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. After an appropriate period of evaluation it is intended that the RDS will be offered for use within other divisions .

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 co-ordinating role for Oxford's VRE activities. This will very much be lead by the requirements of departments. The RTS will assist departments wishing to respond to future relevant funding opportunities and will seek funding to scope and, where relevant, pilot institutional VRE services. Target date: Ongoing (VRE); April 2007 (scoping/pilot proposal);
  • develop and launch an online Research Discovery Service available to all divisions, building on the system deployed by the Medical Sciences Division. Target date: MT 07. Cost: Developed by the ACDT, but maintenance cost c.£15k pa.
  • initiate a project to deploy a production Shibboleth-based access management service 8 to enable access to current Athens-protected information resources and provide integration between institutional and national information environments. Target date: Jan 2007 (Funded via ESP-Grid, SPIE and ShibGrid projects);
  • through OSS Watch inform and advise the UK HE and FE community about open source software and open standards through briefing materials, events, advisory service and partnerships. In 2006-2008 two particular areas of focus will be: assisting JISC-funded projects with implementation of the JISC open source policy; and working with technology transfer units in UK HE and FE to understand licensing and exploitation route for OSS Target date: Ongoing. (Funded via the JISC OSS Watch advisory service 9);
  • collaborate with the OeRC on projects and activities which support research across subject areas through the use of advanced ICT. OUCS is represented on the OeRC Directorate and in 2006/2007 an OUCS-OeRC liaison post will be established to assist in identifying and developing collaborative projects. Through the RTS, OUCS will work with the OeRC to establish a process and the funding models by which the development of e-infrastructure can flow into service provision. Target date: Jan 2007 (liaison post); August 2007 (service model);
  • proactively support the establishment of institutional repository services, particularly through representation on the Oxford Digital Repositories Steering Group, the Oxford Research Archive Steering Group, and joint projects with the Library Services and other departments. Target date: 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. In addition, raise awareness about IT support services offered by OUCS's NSMS service 10 or research projects and ensure that OUCS premium services are properly allocated by research projects within the FEC model Target date: Ongoing. Funded via activities such as Oxford Text Archive, Intute Arts and Humanities, 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 2007. Funded through existing initiatives;
  • through participating in the ICT Strategy Programme 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. Target date: April 2008.

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Specifically mentioned in §102.


Shibboleth is an authentication/authorisation service system that will replace the ATHENS username and password system in 07-08.