9. Supporting research across the University
The Research Technologies Services (RTS) within OUCS provides dedicated support for the wider research community. Within OUCS the Project Support Team acts as a point of contact, alongside the Research Facilitator, to support internal research and development projects.
For the wider research community (i.e. outside of OUCS) an initial consultation and a basic subset of services are provided free, detailed or specific research services are charged for. Examples of the type of service available are: assistance with the technical sections of research bids, assessing hardware and software needs, and setting up and/or running research analyses. Research support could go further though, to include hardware provision, repository provision, e.g. archiving research data (areas not within the ORA’s present remit), as well as IT specific research training, research project facilities and project management support.
This is already being provided by existing OUCS services often on a cost recovery basis. Research support requirements vary considerably between departments, with a wide range of different needs, as some departments have full research teams while others need more specific help. OSS Watch is the national Open Source Advisory service and offers advice on Open Source development.
OUCS is developing a resource of the publications produced by the department such as reports, journal and conference papers, presentations and workshops, in order to provide a showcase of the type and nature of the research work being carried out within the department. Another concern which is being actively discussed is in the career development of the researcher, in facilitating his or her future development, nurturing the skills developed in project management, research skills, people management and in running the project, and maintaining a portfolio of projects on time and within budget.
Potential developments in supporting research include: a full research service from bid to project closure and archiving, moving from project to service, content management systems, research software, registers of research projects, website support and archiving, case studies, and research involving quality assessment, user feedback, and evaluation (Recommendation 6). Using the facilities of Nexus and Sharepoint would allow greater linking across research groups and the sharing of data, tools and research outputs.
Communicating with researchers using mobile communications, newer tools such as Twitter, Flickr, social networking and project management and workflow tools would all reduce the administrative burden and communication problems from disparate groups. Developing links across the research community is also important, with the facilitator’s network and research services working together and with the necessary tools. Further sharing of research information such as shared lists of seminars, workshops and events; access to completed research bids for different research councils; providing information on new funding opportunities; offering research tools and courses on using them and the development of the research toolkit and courses are all ways OUCS can assist in actively developing more contact mechanisms. Some of these areas are already being planned and research funding applied for, further work is needed on these, as well as comments and suggestions from the researchers within the University.
Links across the providers of research services (Research Services, Libraries, OeRC) and their respective roles need to be detailed (Recommendations 9 and 12).