empirical analyses and results by franz barjak fhnw eresearch2020 final workshop 24 february 2010
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eResearch 2020 The role of e-Infrastructures in the creation of global virtual research communities. Empirical analyses and results by Franz Barjak, FHNW eResearch2020 Final Workshop, 24 February 2010. Content. Empirical tasks and approach e-Infrastructure case studies

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empirical analyses and results by franz barjak fhnw eresearch2020 final workshop 24 february 2010

eResearch 2020

The role of e-Infrastructures in the creation of global virtual research communities

Empirical analyses and results by Franz Barjak, FHNWeResearch2020 Final Workshop, 24 February 2010

  • Empirical tasks and approach
  • e-Infrastructure case studies
  • Research Communities Survey
analytical and empirical approach
Analytical and empirical approach
  • e-Infrastructure case studies
    • (Telephone) interviews
    • Document analysis
    • Extended case descriptions
    • Multi-case comparison
  • Research Communities Survey
    • Exploratory online survey among users and developers of e-Infrastructures
    • Descriptive statistics on responses
collected case data
Collected case data
  • Characteristics of field (Which fields? Maturity? Structures?)
  • Project Overview (Motivation? Main goals? Project maturity? Funding?)
  • Organizational Structure (Size and composition?Governance and division of labor?)
  • Managing internal and external relations (Sustaining involvement? Users, user recruitment? Drivers and barriers to adoption? Challenges in interdisciplinary and inter-organizational collaboration?)
  • Technology (Main technologies, resources and services? Data sharing? Interoperability?)
  • Contribution (Main contributions and challenges?)
  • Informants’ recommendations to policy makers
funding arrangements
Funding arrangements

Problem:PM and even partici-pants do not have full knowledge of the bud-gets and lack data on unfunded contributions

Mega projects

Large projects

Regular projects

Small projects

governance structures
Governance structures
  • No relationship between governance structure and project success
  • Scale from the small and informally organized (e.g. CineGrid) to larger multi-tiered and more elaborate complex structure (e.g. Géant, EGEE)
  • Steering committees/management groups: researchers vs. externals
  • Permanently constituted with core staff vs. only “episodic governance”
  • More vs. less centralization; only in a few cases a move away from a centralized towards a more federated or ‘flat’ organization (OGF, TeraGrid, OSG)
  • Larger projects have advisory and/or steering committees of some sort
    • Different purposes: provide guidance, ensure ‘democratic’ representation from among all project members or stakeholder groups
user communities
User communities
  • International projects usually also cross continental boundaries
  • Use is difficult to assess:
    • Users connect through gateways or portals;
    • Registration and authentication are handled at a higher level (organization);
    • Little monitoring of used tools and applications;
    • Interrupters and drop-outs are not distinguishable
  • Size of communities:
    • Large and multidisciplinary user communities of TeraGrid, OSG, EGEE, and DEISA;
    • Most others still deal with a rather narrow set of 50 to up to 200 users, mostly pilot users
extending use
Extending use
  • Not for all a top priority:
    • Sequential approach to technology development and diffusion
    • Purpose is not to serve users but advance the state-of-the-art
    • Prospects of continuation are already low
  • Most common measures for recruiting users:
    • Tutorials and training
    • Targeted communication to potentially interested organizations and individuals
    • Presentations at conferences, workshops, events
    • Word of mouth and social networking
  • Innovative approach: Cultivating relationships to users and developing solutions which particularly address users’ needs (OSG, TeraGrid)
janus head of collaboration and competition

Goal: pooling resources to move forward on “big science” challenges

Political: institutionalizing global collaboration and world-wide harmonisation of e-InfrastructuresTechnological:advancing interoperability

Scientific/cognitive: knowledge and competences


Goal:improving competitive position, securing future resources

Political: rationale for e-Infrastructureinvestment (e.g. Lisbon strategy, NSF activities)

Technological: pushing technologies (e.g. middlewares)

Scientific: funding, credits, recognition & reputation

Janus head of collaboration and competition
interorganizational collaboration
Interorganizational collaboration
  • Dense network of participating organizations, interorganizat-ional collaboration is a reality in e-Infrastructures
  • Collaboration barriers stem from cultural and technical differences:
    • Field differences
    • Organizational identities
    • Different technological systems and technological pecularities
  • Strategies of dealing with collaboration barriers:
    • Low level of embedding
    • Building on established interorganizational relationships
    • High investments of time and resources for coordination and communication
intricate interdisciplinary web
Intricate interdisciplinary web
  • Groups: with distinct interests and types of involvement
  • Strongest challenges:
    • Negative attitude towards technology and computer-enhanced research,
    • Little understanding of domain-specific practices,
    • General problems of field jargon and communication,
    • Divergent objectives (cutting-edge research versus service provision)
bridging disciplinary boundaries
Bridging disciplinary boundaries
  • Common measures
    • Web-based support (Wikis, FAQ pages, mailing lists),
    • Tutorials and training,
    • User-friendly portals,
    • Working with “lead users”
  • Innovative approaches
    • Mediators or translators of user demands
    • Generating field-specific environments
    • “Brokerage”: to “broker” the development of tools and interfaces to a partner more familiar with the requirements of a certain field.
  • Online survey
  • Distribution to contact persons in most of the included e-Infrastructure cases
  • + Additional mailing to a wider set of respondents via the BELIEF network
  • Exploratory: no control of the survey population, results are not representative for any field or country
  • 407 usable responses in total returned
collected data
Collected data
  • Personal and professional background of the respondents (e.g. affiliation, time allocation, country of work, highest degree, field),
  • Selection of one specific e-infrastructure: genesis of involvement, catalysts & barriers, sponsors, type of involvement,
  • Questions on the others involved in a similar way in the selected e-infrastructure (=community), e.g. number, geographical & organizational spread,
  • Use of the services and resources from the e-infrastructure,
  • Impact on research and collaboration networks,
  • Importance of national and international Grid initiatives,
  • Recommendations to e-infrastructure policy makers.
response statistics
Response statistics
  • Geographical spread:
    • Europe: 61%
    • North-America: 10%
    • Latin America: 21%
    • Others: 8%
  • Affiliation:
    • Academic institutions: 81%
    • Governments and inter-national organizations: 13%
    • Private and commercial sector: 6%
  • Type of involvement in e-Infrastructure:
    • Research users: 46%
    • Other users: 9%
    • Developers: 45%
virtual research communities
Virtual Research Communities

Size (est. number of colleagues) Geographical extension

virtual research communities by e infrastructure
Virtual Research Communities by e-infrastructure

Size (est. number of colleagues) Geographical extension

(Differences from all responses in %)

involvement in one e infrastructure
Involvement in one e-infrastructure

Services & resources Catalysts & barriers

involvement at after project start
Involvement at/after project start

by activity of involvement by origin of funding

importance of an e infrastructure for research or work
Importance of an e-Infrastructure for research or work
  • The lack of [selected e-Infrastructure] or similar resources would impair my Research Programme ...
    • … not at all or little 31%
    • … very much 54%
    • … totally 15%
  • The availability of [selected e-Infrastructure] or similar resources for my research work is …
    • … very unimportant 2%
    • … unimportant 3%
    • … neither important nor unimportant 8%
    • … important 31%
    • … very important 56%
thank you

eResearch 2020

The role of e-Infrastructures in the creation of global virtual research communities

Thank you!