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

Importance by type of e infrastructure
Importance by type of e-Infrastructure

Thank you

eResearch 2020

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

Thank you!