As pressures mount for universities to do more with less, digital technologies offer the promise of new ways to conduct, manage and disseminate research, as well as new opportunities for increasing its impact. The opportunities to make best use of resources are significant, but so are the challenges, including changed organisational and research practice, the need for new skills and roles, and ensuring that the required infrastructure is sustainable and available to all of Higher Education.

Top tips for senior managers

  • Tackle the concerns of researchers around Open Access: quality, copyright, undermining the tried-and-tested system, time constraints
  • Don’t underestimate your ICT needs: arts and humanities research can involve just as many resources as STEM research
  • Many resources are separated geographically so digitisation can reduce the need for travel and can enable discoveries that would otherwise not be made

Top tips for researchers

  • Consider the citation benefit offered by Open Access
  • Research should be less about search and more about analysis – IT can help to reduce the search burden
  • Try to use open standards for collaboration

More on this topic from the Future of Research conference

Efficiency and effectiveness was discussed depth at the Future of Research conference. A presentation by Professor Martin Hall, Vice Chancellor, University of Salford was followed by three sessions covering different aspects of the topic. Find summary of each of these below, and click on the session name to read more about who was on the panel, a more detailed record of the discussion, and supporting resources from JISC for each session.

Professor Martin Hall’s presentation

Evolution and Revolution: ICT and Arts and Humanities research
The Browne Report suggests arts and humanities research is going to be at the forefront of cuts. ICT has the ability to increase the prestige of certain subjects, and cut out some of the costs involved, by digitising and unifying geographically separated datasets, removing the effort and travel from search and freeing researchers to concentrate on the later stages of research.

Shared services to support STEM subjects
This session looked at the use of partnerships and shared services, asking how we can get more efficiency from collaboration, and more effectiveness from shared services. It focused particularly on web services and tools, highlighting successes, problems and practical challenges in three areas: the work of JANET in providing shared services, the development of a Virtual Research Environment to allow the sharing and analysis of cancer imaging, and the creation and curation of tools, workflows and methods at Myexperiment.

Open Access: making the most of your research
There are clear benefits to making content fully, freely immediately and permanently available where it can be access and reused. Economically, there are direct cost savings for institutions and efficiency savings for researchers. In terms of impact, the gains come from enhanced visibility, usage and academic impact. There are four main strands of activity that need to take place at an institutional level to implement Open Access in universities:  an institutional Open Access repository, an Open Access publication fund, clear policy direction, and proactive guidance and support.

Further resources from JISC