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e-Uptake: widening uptake of e-Infrastructure Services. Marzieh Asgari-Targhi, Alex Voss, Rob Procter et al . ESRC National Centre for e-Social Science. Session Overview. About the e-Uptake Project Literature Review and Fieldwork Typology and Repository of Findings

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E uptake widening uptake of e infrastructure services

e-Uptake: widening uptake ofe-Infrastructure Services

Marzieh Asgari-Targhi, Alex Voss, Rob Procter et al.

ESRC National Centre for e-Social Science

Session overview
Session Overview

  • About the e-Uptake Project

  • Literature Review and Fieldwork

  • Typology and Repository of Findings

  • Fostering e-Infrastructures

  • From User-Designer Relations to Community Engagement

E uptake

  • Led by the ESRC National Centre for e-Social Science in collaboration with the National e-Science Centre and the Arts & Humanities e-Science Support Centre.

  • Remit: to widen the uptake of e-Research across all disciplines through research and intervention

  • Stakeholders: existing and potential service and technology providers, researchers, funders, etc.

Part 1 literature review and fieldwork

Part 1: Literature Review and Fieldwork


  • Issues identified in the e-Science and innovation studies literature

  • Investigation of issues and enablers through fieldwork

  • Validation of existing knowledge and generating new findings

Existing themes i
Existing Themes (I)

  • The following major areas have been identified in the literature:

  • What exactly constitutes e-infrastructure? Technology + social arrangements

  • Can we ‘build’ infrastructures or do we ‘foster’ them?

  • What does advanced computing offer science and engineering as well as social sciences or arts and humanities? Are there common themes?

  • How can e-Research be ‘embedded’ in practice and in education?

  • Integration of e-Infrastructure components into a coherent whole.

Existing themes ii
Existing Themes (II)

  • Data and related issues; accessing, curating, protection, sharing, standardising, security and confidentiality issues, etc.

  • Collaboration between application scientists & developers, what motivates people and how can it be made to work across distance and boundaries?

  • Global communities: how do we maximise the use of e-Infrastructures and applications to support new forms of scientific community?

Existing themes iii
Existing Themes (III)

  • e-Research is inherently multi-disciplinary.

  • Funding: Attracting funding for multi-disciplinary research in e-infrastructure is difficult

  • Organisational framework: How strategic investments and enabling policy can be combined to form an effective organisational framework?

  • Socio-ethical issues, how do we tackle the ethical and policy issues surrounding the use of e-Research?

Existing themes iv
Existing Themes (IV)

  • Legal issues, e.g., IPR, data protection

  • Spectrum of architectures runs from centrally organised and controlled to networks or linked systems

  • Managing local autonomy while providing reliable and predictable services

  • Measuring the success of e-Research and rewarding it.

Studying uptake barriers enablers
Studying Uptake, Barriers & Enablers

  • Look beyond isolated, anecdotal, contingent or random problems

  • Aim to uncover recurring, widespread barriers that can be overcome by targeted interventions

  • Must reflect the diversity of the target population, their different interests and possible uses of services

  • Must sample adopters, non-adopters and service providers


  • E-Uptake has conducted 50+ interviews

  • About 25 hours of audio + questionnaire data

  • Fieldwork continuing & approach being reviewed

  • Interviews being transcribed and coded

  • Metadata being applied and questionnaire data added

  • Building up a body of evidence and a typology of findings

  • Online repository of evidence of barriers and enablers

  • Analysis of training requirements based on existing longitudinal data collection

Coverage so far
Coverage So Far

  • Underrepresentation, e.g., of research fellows

  • Level of awareness about 68% - bias towards early adopters

  • Next rounds of fieldwork will try to address this and will try to falsify emerging explanations of adoption processes, barriers and enablers

Training requirements
Training Requirements

  • Existing training requirements data (AHM, EGEE conferences, etc. – note bias in sample…)

Training requirements ii
Training Requirements (II)

  • Clear need for education, outreach and training on principles of e-Research

  • Training provision currently patchy

  • Question of timing, need to engage people when they are ready to make the next step

  • Need to tailor interventions to different communities

E research tools
e-Research Tools

  • Analytical approach being developed and CAQDAS tools (Atlas.ti, NVivo, etc.) considered

  • Interested in:

    • Non-proprietary file formats

    • Support for collaborative work

    • Integration of qualitative, quantitative and meta-data

    • Dynamic online presentation in a number of different forms for different stakeholders

    • Complex queries

    • Semi-automatic markup, meta-data generation and anonymisation


  • We are currently exploring use of SQUAD

  • Smart Qualitative Data: Methods and Community Tools for Data Mark-Up

  • Based on TEI – an XML application

  • Consequently: open & extensible

  • http://quads.esds.ac.uk/projects/squad.asp

E research tools1
e-Research Tools

Under review...

...comments very welcome


  • Coding scheme initially based on earlier literature review

  • Being iteratively modified as analysis progresses

  • Hierarchical scheme with currently 166 codes

  • Link between formulations of barriers and evidence base

  • [Demo visual representation…]

Gathering and analysing evidence
Gathering and Analysing Evidence

  • Need to improve evidence gathering in the community

  • Current JISC community engagement activities provide a snapshot

  • Make data collection more routine

  • Turn evidence to insight to action

  • Use e-Research tools to facilitate this…

Part 3 fostering e infrastructures

Part 3: Fostering e-Infrastructures

Embedding e infrastructures
Embedding e-Infrastructures

  • As e-Infrastructure matures technically, the need to address issues of uptake and embedding in working practices becomes critical.

The nature of e infrastructures
The Nature of e-Infrastructures

  • e-Infrastructures are complex socio-technical ensembles which are ‘fostered’ rather than ‘built’.

  • Changing the ‘social infrastructure’ requires interventions not traditionally associated with engineering and design.

  • These interventions are needed at different scales: local, organisational, national, international.

  • e-Infrastructure will not be sustained unless the technical and social infrastructures are aligned.

Fostering e infrastructures
Fostering e-Infrastructures

  • Drawing on the findings, approaches and methods developed in other disciplines

  • Essentially an inter-disciplinary effort.

  • Relevant expertise exists:

    • software engineering,

    • social sciences (e.g., sociology, social anthropology, economics),

    • workplace studies (as in CSCW and PD),

    • science and technology studies, philosophy of science.

Fostering e infrastructures1
Fostering e-Infrastructures

  • Involvement from these disciplines has often been sporadic, marginal and too late rather than fundamental and strategic.

  • Aim for a more fundamental involvement in community engagement:

    • studying working practices and uptake,

    • building conceptual models and deriving policies,

    • devising plans for widening and deepening adoption

    • through targeted interventions, e.g., training, education, outreach, consultancy or user forums

Operationalising lessons learned
Operationalising Lessons Learned

  • We need to find ways to operationalise lessons learned and make them part of the normal way of working for people working in e-Research.

  • The challenge lies in making approaches scale:

    • from single systems to distributed infrastructures,

    • to collaborative work in communities,

    • Involving heterogeneous and independent actors.

Models of innovation
Models of Innovation

  • Linear: diffusion from laboratory into society – ‘build it and they will come’

  • Feedback and innovation in use

    • Socio-technical systems

    • Importance of local knowledge and practices

    • Users as stakeholders and experts

    • Designers as moderators/facilitators as well as technical experts

    • Configurations

User designer relations
User-Designer Relations

  • Need familiarity with the working practices and concerns of researchers

  • Researchers need to understand what is possible, what is feasible and what is not, what the tradeoff between different options are

  • Involves a degree of familiarity with the research domain and e-Research technologies. This can be achieved through:

    • Training (e.g., bioinformatics, Grid literacy)‏

    • Boundary spanning (e.g., researchers employed on projects)‏

    • Facilitation (e.g., consultancy, focus groups, workplace studies)‏

    • Shared practice (co-location, embedding, corealisation)‏


  • Traditional user engagement works:

    • in small groups

    • in relatively homogeneous groups

    • with (practically) aligned interests

    • in the design of well-described systems

    • serving well-defined purposes

Issues ii
Issues (II)

  • e-Infrastructures for research challenge this:

    • loosely coupled groups of people

    • with only partially and temporarily aligned interests

    • multidisciplinarity and scale of collaboration

    • problem of identifying possible adopters

    • and engaging them

    • representativeness

    • generic vs. specific functionality & support

    • configurations, not systems

To community engagement
…to Community Engagement

  • Managing user-designer relations beyond individual projects

  • Scaling to community level

  • Developing paths to adoption

  • and mechanisms to facilitate uptake

  • to widen uptake from ‘early adopters’ to the ‘interested’, to get the ‘disengaged’ interested and to convince the ‘sceptical’.

Paths to wider uptake
Paths to Wider Uptake

Grand ChallengesCapacity Computing / Grid

Exceptional work

Bespoke functionality

Web 2.0

Social Grid

Everyday work

Common tools

Paths to wider uptake1
Paths to Wider Uptake

Grand ChallengesCapacity Computing / Grid

Exceptional work

Bespoke functionality

Embedded e-Research


Routine innovation

Functionality Mashup*

Web 2.0

Social Grid

Everyday work

Common tools

*Charles Severance


  • Closing the gaps between stages of engagement:

  • cf. EGEE Virtuous Cycle

  • Also OSS-Watch model

Community engagement ii
Community Engagement (II)

  • Interventions: outreach, education, training, consultancy

  • These elements need to be tied together

  • Lack of an obvious (single) point of contact

  • Need a professional triage service?

Community engagement mapping
Community Engagement: Mapping

  • Establish baseline understanding of e-Science communities: people, projects, activities and relationships.

  • e-Uptake is using web-mining to harvest information from research council websites, conference proceedings, etc, map of e-Science communities and track engagement over time.

Mixed methods
Mixed Methods

  • Need to employ a mixture of methods for data collection, engagement, requirements negotiation and validation

  • Interviews establish existence of issues

  • Design ethnographies provides detailed understanding

  • Surveys establish relevance across a wider population

  • Particular set of skills falls between computer science and social sciences

Programme project relations
Programme – Project Relations

  • Effective community engagement is expensive, therefore best done at programme level

  • Have common approach to common issues so projects can focus in specifics

  • Raises the questions of programme – project relations

  • Need to coordinate between project-level and programme-level activities

  • Sustained funding for these activities

Programme project relations ii
Programme – Project Relations (II)

  • For example:

    • Community engagement projects have common framework of understanding

    • Common consent process enabling data sharing

    • Coordinated approach to identifying candididate respondents, doing interviews, managing data and analysis

    • Common dissemination activities