In Data sharing is critical for new kinds of science, Open Access News pointed me to an interesting article in EDUCAUSE Review
It's a bit heavy on the history of e-science for my liking, but it does give a good overview of past and current activities.
Sandra Braman describes some characteristics of the "contemporary research environment":
- Computation is the “third branch” of science, along with theory and experimentation.
- Every discipline is becoming computationally intense.
- Large research projects are more likely to be transdisciplinary than to be disciplinarily bound.
- Research is more likely to be carried out in the context of a problem-oriented application than within the context of a specific academic community.
- Large research projects are more likely to involve working with the results of data from multiple studies at multiple sites across multiple time periods than working with single studies alone.
- The distinction between “basic” and “applied” research has fallen away.
She talks about challenges in the areas of computation, networking and data. In data, she asserts
We’re most likely to achieve our long-term data-storage goals if the collections of global importance are managed by just a few institutions serving as “community proxies.” These institutions would have responsibility for collection access, collection structure, technical standards and processes for data curation, ontology development, annotation, and peer review. One example of what such a community proxy might look like is offered by the Data Central service recently announced by the University of California–San Diego. Available to researchers at any institution, this service includes a commitment to keep data collections accessible for one hundred years. Other types of data collections may best be handled by disciplinary groups, teams devoted to specific large-scale problems, or the institutions of key researchers. And since research funders are beginning to require that grant proposals give explicit attention to long-term data-storage issues, institutions with grant-funded researchers need to begin addressing this problem immediately.
It is also yet another reminder that Canada really needs to get its act together on an e-Science Strategy.