All day RUGIT meeting yesterday. As usual, well attended - I think we all appreciate a chance to network and talk to our colleagues from similar universities. The first item was a presentation from one of the Research Fellows from the Russell Group of Vice Chancellors, who has a specific remit to liase with our group. He outlined what was happening with the RG since the appointment of a Director General last year, and the priority ares they were concentrating on. Some interesting discussion on the role of metrics in the assessment of research, and some crystal ball gazing about what effect a change of government would have on funding for Universities.
Then we had a progress report on the UKRDS, which I have mentioned before. This is a study looking at the feasibilty of establishing a UK wide research data service, which very importantly would not just look at storing data, but all of the issues around data curation, archiving and retrieval as well. The study is going well, with an interim report already prepared, and a final report expected by Christmas this year. Some interesting findings - it is predicted that the volume of research data needing to be stored will increase by 400% over the next 3 years; c50% of research data is estimated to have a life of <10 years, 25% an indefinite retention value, and 25% of researchers don't know how long their data should be kept for. When the new service is established, one of the most important decisions will be how long to keep data for, which ideally should be agreed at the beginning of the research project - but who knows how useful data might be after the end of a project, or what else it could be used for? Apparently astronomers are storing up to 2 petabytes of data every night, and are still analysing and finding interesting stuff in data many years old. One of the principles of the study and the data service when it is established is to unleash the potential of raw data being more accessible and discoverable.
Other things discussed included progress on a feasibility study for a Shared Data Centre for Higher Education (the SHED project) - this is particularly important for those Unversities who are running out of machine room space, especially in London; problems surrounding provision of facilities for on-line assessments, and a qualitative benchmarking study we are about to do.
Then it was off to the nearest pub for a well earned pint, before a reception at UCL for the retirement of one of RUGIT's founder members - Professor Roland Rosner - who was also one of the people who established JANET , our academic network, which was actually named after his secretary, and the acronym Joint Academic Network retrofitted afterwards!