Prepared for 2010 Graduate seminarInformetrics and e-research (prof. Han Woo Park),at Yeungnam Univ. in S. Korea Developing the UK-based e-Social Science Research Program Peter Halfpenny, Rob Procter, Yu-Wei Lin and Alex Voss Presented by Kim KyoungEun firstname.lastname@example.org 10. May 2010
Introduction โถ The National Centre for e-Social Science(NCeSS) : was established by the U.K. Economic and Social Research Council(ESRC) in 2004. : NCeSSโs mission is to enable social scientists to exploit innovations in digital infrastructure. : NCeSS coordinates a program of e-social science research and makes available information, training, advice and support. โถIn this chapter, we review the progress of the NCeSS program, report on its current impact on social science research, reflect on the development of the research roadmap and, taking into account factors likely to influence future adoption, consider its trajectory over the next five years.
First steps in U.K. e-Social Science โถ In late 2000, the U.K. government announced funding for a research initiative in e-science. โป The Economic and Social Research Council(ESRC) launched its contribution to the program by commissioning four scoping studies: Grid-enabling quantitative social science datasets Qualitative research and e-social science Human-centred design and Grid technologies Social shaping perspectives on e-science and e-social research
First steps in U.K. e-Social Science โถ Following the recommendations of the scoping studies, the ESRC allocated ๏ฟก500k to fund Pilot Demonstrator Projects(PDPs): small scale projects to explore how e-infrastructure could be used to generate examplars to showcase the potential to the wider social science research community and test the level of interest in e-social sciences. This approach acknowledged that the number of social science researchers ready at this early stage to grasp the potential of e-social science was likely to be small.
First steps in U.K. e-Social Science โถEleven PDPs were funded, four with a main focus on aspects of data infrastructure and integration, six on statistical analysis and modeling and one on collaborative qualitative video data analysis. : two PDPs also explored how e-social science might break down the divide between quantitative and qualitative research methods. -> the limited funding per PDP : require a bigger program. : In 2004, the ESRC announced the next step in its e-social science strategy; the formation of the National Centre for e-Social Science(NCeSS) with funding of ๏ฟก6M for a first phase over the period 2004~2007 and funding for a second phase contingent on the outcome of a review.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 โถ Building on the pattern by the scoping studies, the specification for the NCeSS research program in its 2004~2007 phase identified two principal strands of research.
The application strand : aimed, through substantive problem-driven research projects, to explore the use of e-infrastructure to make advances in quantitative, qualitative and mixed methods economic and social research.
The Social shaping strand : aimed to understand how e-infrastructure is being developed, how it is being used across the research community, and what its implications are for scientific practices and research.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 โถ Four of the original eleven PDPs were successful in graduationg to Node scale funding. The research objectives of the seven Nodes were as follows The Collaboratory for Quantitative e-Social Science Node(CQeSS) : aimed to develop tools and services to advance the state of the art in quantitative methods. The Mixed Media Grid Node(MiMeG) : focused on developing tools to support distributed, collaborative video analysis. The Modeling and simulation for e-Social Science Node(MoSeS) : aimed to develop a suite of modeling and simulation tools for application in policy making. The Digital Records for e-Social Science Node(DReSS) : sought to develop new tools for capturing, replaying, and analyzing multi-modal digital records of peopleโs activities. : 'DReSSโ is developing new tools and services that enable qualitative research to exploit heterogeneous forms of data.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 The Geographic Virtual Urban Environments Node(GeoVUE) : focused on developing geographical information systems(GIS) tools and research environments to enable users easily to map and visually explore spatially-coded socio-economic data. The Semantic Grid Tools for Rural Policy Development and Appraisal Node(Policy Grid) : brought together social scientists with interests in rural policy development and appraisal with computer scientists with experience in Grid and Semantic Web technologies. The Oxford e-Social Science Node (OeSS) : addessed the inter-related social, institutional, ethical, legal and other issues surrounding e-infrastructures and research practices.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 Node research themes and synergies โถ The Node awards can be broken down into six applications strand Nodes and one social shaping strand Node, although it is worth remarking that all applications strand Nodes addressed social shaping issues in their work plans. โถ Of the applications strand Nodes : - MoSeS, PolicyGrid, MiMeG, CQeSS : had data analysis tools as their main focus - DReSS : had data collection and management as its main focus
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 Node research themes and synergies โป Table 4.1 (77P) : because of their established use of computing, quantitative methods figure quite prominently in the Node themes whereas qualitative methods figure less prominently. : reveals an interesting gap in this first phase of the NCeSS program with the absence of any contribution to the text/data mining theme. : suggest a significant number of potential synergies between the Nodes.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 Supporting emergence of program synergies and outreach โถ Theme clusters are important to the NCeSS program for strategic reasons. NCeSS is a managed program where the objective is not only to ensure that research projects individually achieve their potential but that they work effectively together, that collaborations and synergies flourish and that, collectively, the program is able to establish partnerships with the wider e-science community in the U.K. and internationally. โถ Small Grant Projects and PDPs aims to: Provide a platform for disseminating the benefits of e-social science to the wider social science research community Enhance understanding of issues around resource discovery, data access, security and usability Lay foundations for an integrated strategy for the future development, support and sustainability of e-social science infrastructure and services.
The National Centre for e-Social Science 2004-2007 International collaboration โถ A key objective for e-science is to foster and further scientific research by collaboration across disciplinary and geographical boundaries. e-Social science requires international collaboration in order to integrate an expended range of data and computing resources. โถNCeSS has devoted substantial effort to establishing these international links. Members of the Hub have been actively involved in ICEAGE (The International collaboration to Extend and Advance Grid Education) : Despite or perhaps because of this encouraging start, much remains to be done to foster international collaborations in e-social science.
Developing the Research Roadmap โถSince the launch of NCeSS, the Hub has been working to develop the research roadmap and to extend its engagement with the social science research community. โถ A variety of specific activities have been used to facilitate this. โ NCeSS has organized a rolling program of Agenda Setting Workshops(ASWs) to which social scientists are invited to hear about opportunities for using e-infrastructure and to reflect on how these technologies might address the obstacles they face in pursuing their research objectives.
Developing the Research Roadmap โก As the outcomes of the ESRCโs own strategic deliberations crystallized in mid 2007, these were fed into the roadmap. The ESRC Key Research Challenges identified succeeding in the global economy; international relations and security; understanding and shaping individual decisions; education and life changes; religion, ethnicity and society; population changes; and environmental change as its strategic research priorities for 2007-2010. โข There have been two external reviews of NCeSS, one focusing on the Hub and the second on the ESRCโs e-social science strategy as a whole.
Research Roadmap 2007-2012 โถ The 2007-2012 research roadmap retains the twin tracks of an applications strand and a social shaping strand. However, a key difference is that the 2007-2012 roadmap has not only to identify new avenues for the application of e-social science but also to identify the best ways of building on the achievements of the first phase. โถ Three major themes were identified in the application strand: data infrastructure, data analysis, collaboration.
Research Roadmap 2007-2012 โถ several more specific issues were highlighted in the second phase Node call: New source of social data The problem of resource description Secure procedures for accessing confidential data Multi-scale modeling, including that which combines physical, biological and socio-economic phenomena The extension of text mining techniques to social and economic data Solving complex problems Virtual research environments, that is, persistent digital spaces where researchers can share data and tools Inter-disciplinary collaborations involving the social, medical and natural sciences
Research Roadmap 2007-2012 โถ Further social shaping research is critically important as e-science moves beyond its initial phase in the U.K. and elsewhere. โป The social shaping agenda addressed four themes: Genesis of e-infrastructure Social, economic and other determinants of the design, uptake, use and sustainability of e-infrastructure Implications for the nature and practice of science International comparisons, examining how different national science policies and legal frameworks influence the funding and organizations of these developments
Challenges โถ The NCeSS program is โwork in progressโ and e-social science is far from being a routine undertaking. It carries significant risk arising from such factors as the uncertain path of technological innovation; the lack of experience among potential users of the technologies involved; issues arising from the social organization of research including embedded research practices and the established reward structure; and the management of processes of change. - In the section, we reflect on some of the most significant challenges that need to be tackled as NCeSS seeks to build upon its achievements to date.
ChallengesWidening adoption โถ The target audience for NCeSS dissemination and capacity-building activities can be segmented by academic discipline, methodological approach and career stage but the most useful profile is in terms of knowledge and skill. โถ It is on this basis that the Hubโs strategic planning is organized around the tri-part division between the โearly adoptersโ, โinterestedโ, and the โunengagedโ. The early adopters are largely already part of NCeSS and are keen to push to the limit what e-social science makes possible. The interested form the test-bed for e-social science applications. Not all of the unengaged have the same view of e-infrastructure.
ChallengesUnderstanding and tackling barriers to adoption โถ Complementing its small-scale, focused studies, the Hub has also been involved in mapping the adoption of e-infrastructure across disciplines at the U.K. and European levels. This mapping provides the groundwork to develop mechanisms to tackle barriers to adoption and improve outreach. : the e-Infrastructure Use Cases and Service Usage Models(eIUS) : the Enabling project Uptake of e-Infrastructure Services project (e-Uptake)
ChallengesUnderstanding and tackling barriers to adoption โถ Having mapped the adoption of e-infrastructure and identified how users respond to barriers, strategies then need to be devised that enable uptake, for example, by providing clear and well-supported migration routes. These routes are likely to be different for late adopters drawn from among the unengaged and early adopters at the forefront of e-social science. โถ As userโ requirements mature, their support needs may also change. Moreover, different user communities will be at different phase of the adoption cycle at any one time and so support has to be provided for all phases simultaneously.
โถ e-infrastructure adoption will only reach full maturity when social, organizational, cultural, ethical and legal issues are resolved in tandem with the creation of technology-based tools and services. This is the main message of studies of previous efforts to develop large scale infrastructure: success depends on aligning technical components and stakeholder interests. ChallengesUnderstanding and tackling barriers to adoption
ChallengesCollaboration โถ e-Social science is underpinned by a vision of the transformation of research practice into collaborative activity that combines the abilities and resources of distributed groups of researchers in order to achieve research goals that individual researchers or local groups could not hope to accomplish. โถ Yet, there are numerous institutional constraints on collaboration, most notably the academic reward system in which career advancement and scientific reputation depend heavily on individual achievement. While the current rapid spread of โScience 2.0โ provides grounds for optimism that research cultures are indeed changing, continuing investigation of barriers to real-world interdisciplinary collaboration, and mechanisms to overcome them remains a critical element of the NCeSS social shaping research program.
ChallengesSustainability โถ A variety of factors conspire to make issue about the sustainability of e-infrastructure impossible to ignore. โ U.K. e-science has reached that point in the innovation lifecycle where it must seek engagement with users beyond the early adopters and it is important that the pace of adoption does not falter. โก the existence of competing technical solutions can be a disincentive to the adoption of innovations, and recent divergent developments are a cause of confusion within the e-infrastructure community. โข if the accumulation, sharing and re-use of resources called for by the e-research vision generates a substantial increase in both the numbers and the types of research resources available, then priorities will have to be established to determine which will receive continued support, given that funding is unlikely to keep pace.
ChallengesSustainability โถThis brings us to a fundamental question for sustainability, which is how research resources originating in time-limited projects can be re-built to production level quality, then curated, maintained and managed so that they remain viable for use by the whole research community in the long term. โถ Funding bodies are concerned that sustaining the burgeoning body of research resources will consume an ever increasing proportion of their budgets. The existing institutional infrastructure as represented by current service providers and the funding models that support them is in tension with the opportunities that the new technical infrastructure affords.
ChallengesImpact and its measurement โถ Measuring the impact of the e-social science program is vital for planning its future strategic direction. However, evaluating the impact of innovation is notoriously difficult, especially in the short term since results take time to disseminate and their significance may only become clear after a considerable delay. โถ In addition, impact in terms of added value obtained from innovations can be economic, social, personal or more diffusely realized. For these reasons, conventional uni-dimensional impact measures (such as peer review, citation analysis and other bibliometric approaches) have severe limitations.
โถMeasuring impact exemplifies the kinds of challenge that e-science was devised to address. In this sense, the solution to creating an evidence base for the e-social science roadmap lies in its own hands : the use of network analysis, data and text mining to extract and analyze information from extensive sources, within a research program that will foster the necessary interdisciplinary collaborations. The recently announced NSF Science of Science and Innovation Policy program represents a very interesting and timely step towards this. ChallengesImpact and its measurement
Conclusions โถ A feature of the current state of e-social science is that, despite the substantial investment by the ESRC, its adoption remains piecemeal. Although bids for Nodes and small Grant projects obviously had to attend to the strategic direction set out in the specification of the calls if they were to be successful, nevertheless the proposals reflected the interests of the groups who authors them, as they slotted their e-social projects into their ongoing, wider research programs.
Conclusions โถ User capability becomes central, and this requires striving to provide e-social science tools and services that enable social scientists to improve their research practices and generate results that would not otherwise have been possible. Therefore, NCeSS must continue to work very closely with social science researchers to seek out their requirements and it must be catholic in the selection of technologies to meet them, broadening out from the original emphasis on Grid computing. And NCeSS must be remembered that the technical and the social are inextricable, requiring attention to awareness-raising, training, support and other activities designed to reduce the cost of adoption.
Thank you for your attention! Presented by Kim KyoungEun email@example.com