Monday, 10 December 2007

JISC podcast with Professor John Wood

JISC's Annual Review features a podcast with Professor John Wood, on the work of the Sub-Committee for the Support for Research (JSR), which can be accessed at

Professor Wood talks about current work of the JSR to develop a high level strategy to deliver real results, focusing on fewer bigger projects rather than many smaller projects. The data deluge is a key concern: the amount of data generated by research expected to rise almost exponentially. There are implications for institutions, not least, the costs involved. Professor Wood described a move from libraries of physical materials to virtual data stores. Some of the areas needing clarification are: getting the middleware right; agreeing approaches to metadata; and linking datasets effectively. Professor Wood is engaged with discussions at an EU level but feels one of the key roles of JSR is to communicate the urgency of the data deluge problem.

Alongside the work of JSR, JISC is engaging with Research Councils on the infrastructure needed to support research. Professor Wood also chairs JISC Scholarly Communications group which is now looking at various media and how these may be linked in a holistic way to support researchers. From an institutional perspective, the impact of JSR (and indeed sometimes JISC) is somewhat hidden from researchers. They will have heard of, maybe even JISCmail but may be unfamiliar with JISC itself.

Regarding the future of JSR, Professor Wood sees a need to focus on larger projects, quoting the examples of the Digital Curation Centre ( and the National Centre for Text Mining (, now starting to show results. It is vital to look at what researchers need otherwise there is a risk of different groups adopting different approaches. There is also a need to engage on an international level to ensure interoperability, thus enabling international collaboration.

Professor Wood explains the need to look ahead 10 years in order to develop a vision. He outlines 4 issues in particular which JSR must tackle:
  • what sort of middleware should we support as standard?
  • what software development do we need to maximise the infrastructure we have?
  • what are the priorities for tackling data storage and supporting/sustaining repositories?
  • what training is required to enable research communities to understand what is available?

No comments: