Visions for Future Research Environments: Services, Processes and Policies (VFRE)

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30 Jul 2020

Visions for Future Research Environments: Services, Processes and Policies (VFRE)

Submitted by Andrew Treloar

Meeting objectives: 

The research landscape - like other sectors - is undergoing constant, but increasingly faster transformations. We see certain trends emerging: data is taking on an increasingly central role in all disciplines, we see data from different disciplines increasingly being integrated, R&D is becoming way more interdisciplinary than what we were used to see 10-20 years ago, and software environments are increasingly essential to the research process. These changes should feed into what we discuss and design right now, in order to build the infrastructure pipeline.

Having discussed this idea at the RDA Plenary in Helsinki we feel there would be room for a yet to be more precisely identified WG (or IG) or focused activity engaging with researchers from the broad set of domains present in RDA to extract some visions on how research will be done in 5-25 years, and what the effect and impact on research environments (infrastructures, services, policies, ...) will be.

Potential goals for the envisaged WG (IG) include:

  • Identifying needs / pain-points researchers and RIs are facing wrt. the evolving, increasingly interdisciplinary scientific landscape undergoing the digital transformation with a specific focus on the needs of different domains
  • Understand which services or policies to develop, solutions to provide, and how to integrate them
  • Understand, specifically, also tacit aspects and requirements such as e.g. reproducibility, explainability, bias, relevance, applicability, FAIRness that are valid across all disciplines, but hard to address by individual researchers
  • Identify which existing RDA outputs may contribute to addressing these needs and how to structurally feed / integrate / adopt / deploy them in(to) the emerging research environments
  • Provide a basis for decision makers, industry and research infrastructures on which priorities to set

Thus, the goal of this BOF Session is to

  • Collate the input received at P15 in Helsinki as well as of two workshops held in January and February
  • Identify the concrete goals for a WG (or IG) to extract and condense these issues as input to strategic development of RIs and the research landscape
  • Devise an action plan on how to move this idea forward, identify roles, responsibilities, actions and interests

NOTE: Although the topic for this BOF appears to overlap with the existing RDA VRE IG their recent activity has focussed on describing the present through a common reference model and a catalogue of design patterns for VREs. The proposed BOF is looking at anticipating and shaping the future. If the BOF decides to spin up a WG, we would approach the VRE IG to see if they want to connect with it.


Meeting agenda: 


Collaborative Notes Link:

  1. Short overview of the emerging landscape: interdisciplinarity, digital transformation, science platforms (EOSC, AOSP, Australian eResearch platforms program...) (10 mins)
  2. Insights gained from BOF at P15 Helsinki as well as from subsequent workshops held in the first half of 2020, both physical workshops as well as virtual meetings (10 mins)
  3. Discussing opportunities for shaping these trends rather than following them (10 mins)
  4. Identify options for one (or more) WG (IG?) to be launched and the envisaged outcomes (40 mins)
  5. Collaboration with other WGs and IGs (10 mins)
  6. Next steps: who, what, when (10 mins)


Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Short introduction describing any previous activities: 

A BOF Session was held at P15 in Helsinki where a first brainstorming on the evolution of the research landscape was held.

A follow-up meeting was planned for the Plenary in Australia, but time was too short to switch to a productive and efficient purely virtual meeting. With more lead time this can now be accomplished.

The initiative will be seeded by input from three workshops that were held in Jan and Feb 2020 across Europe, with domain scientists, top-level researchers and university networks, complemented by a series of individual interviews and virtual meetings, experiences from the on-going Australian eResearch Program, the requirements being collected for VREs such as EOSC, AOSP and similar initiatives.

These will serve as a template for similar events organized by domain-specific groups and networks to collect visions on a broader scale to derive input to the design of emerging infrastructures such as EOSC, AOSP, to ensure these offer variety, complementarity as well as interoperability and serve the needs of science across the globe and across disciplinary boundaries.

BoF chair serving as contact person: 
Meeting presenters: 
Andreas Rauber, Andrew Treloar (and possibly others)
Avoid conflict with the following group (1):