Virtual Research Environments

Priority Area in Detail

A virtual research environment (VRE) is a working platform that permits collaborative research by a number of researchers working simultaneously at different locations, without limitations. It has the potential to support the complete research process, from data gathering, discussion and data processing to the publication of results. From a technology point of view it is mainly based on software services and communication networks. VREs are essential components of modern research infrastructures and make a decisive contribution to the productivity and competitiveness of research.

Outlook and Objectives 2013 - 2017

The working group has four tasks.

  1. Mapping and analysis. Existing VREs will be described, standardised, substantiated and analysed on the basis of the above-mentioned survey and in collaboration with the CARPET project. This will make it easier for research groups to reuse existing services and tools and will allow the identification of commonalities and particular features as part of a synoptic analysis. Based on this information recommendations could be defined for future funding programmes, for example.
  2. Transition to permanent operation. There is currently no virtual research environment intended for long-term use. Guidelines for the transition to permanent operation will help us to analyse existing funding models in other areas (e.g. data centres) in terms of their applicability to cross-institutional, cross-border VREs. Recommendations will be developed for moving a VRE from the setup phase to the operational phase, in other words institutionalizing it. Licence and cost models will not be taken into account in the initial stage.
  3. Legal issues. This area is concerned with legal issues relating to new organisational forms and types (e.g. cross-border usage of nationally funded resources) - identifying such issues, developing possible solutions together with competent partners and initiating their implementation.
  4. Exchange of experiences. A series of thematic workshops focusing on practical experience will encourage researchers engaged in current projects to discuss their experiences - in particular the evaluation of key success factors for VREs, such as acceptance, quality, technology and social aspects.