e-Infrastructures radically change the way research is conducted, overcoming distance to support a growing multitude of virtual research communities across the globe. eResearch2020 conducts research on a diverse sample of e-Infrastructures from around the world, talking to both developers and users. The aim is to improve policy, enhance technology adoption and facilitate the creation of global virtual research communities.
e-Infrastructures can be defined as networked tools, data and resources that support a community of researchers, broadly including all those who participate in and benefit from research. Following this definition, the term e-Infrastructure comprises very heterogeneous projects and institutions within the scientific community. e-Infrastructures include services as diverse as the physical supply of backbone connectivity, single- or multi-purpose grids, supercomputer infrastructure, data grids and repositories, tools for visualization, simulation, data management, storage, analysis and collection, tools for support in relation to methods or analysis, as well as remote access to research instruments and very large research facilities.
Key questions addressed in the study include:
- To what extent do e-Infrastructures contribute to the establishment of global virtual research communities? Do they reduce disadvantages of researchers in peripheral regions and developing countries?
- What are the organisational structures and coordination mechanisms of e-Infrastructures, their key players in the interaction with the researcher communities, the relevant regulatory and policy aspects and the support they receive by funding and other external bodies?
- How well do e-Infrastructure providers define, consult, plan for, engage with and overcome bottlenecks in scaling up to match growth in their user community?
- How do e-Infrastructures ensure that they make an essential contribution to their community of beneficiaries?
- How do researchers use e-Infrastructures? What are the main benefits and costs for global virtual research communities, and to what extent do they influence adoption and use?
- Given current trends, what e-Infrastructure and virtual communities can we expect in the future?
- What policy action can enhance the impact of e-Infrastructures on virtual research communities and how can a Roadmap for European e-Infrastructures be devised?