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This report outlines key differences in IT-supported research from other university activity streams, and some approaches that have enabled central IT services to accelerate e-research.


  • Research is a different institutional practice: some of the factors that underpin success in enterprise, administrative, and education computing can work against you in research.
  • Personal relationships and trust are more critical than the service catalogue when working with researchers – academics, as researchers, are more like small business owners than corporate managers.
  • Governance of research IT has different priorities and stakeholders to that of administrative IT – it is best to engage academic governance channels for research prioritization, conformance, and compliance.

Features and Benefits

  • Outlines key differences in IT-supported research from other university activity streams.
  • Identifies the five key elements that enable e-research.

Key questions answered

  • How can I build a successful e-research support service?
  • What is the best way to encourage researcher compliance with policy?

Table of contents


  • Catalyst
  • Ovum view
  • Key messages


  • Enterprise decision-makers
  • Vendors

Research is different, so research IT needs to be delivered differently

  • Research is a delicate balancing of risk and reward
  • Researchers are commonly hands-on technology users
  • Data-driven scientific research is as old as computing itself
  • External collaborations necessitate extended access management

Five key elements enable e-research

  • Research engagement requires more than a good service desk
  • Treat research groups and research leaders somewhat like administrative departments

Flexible technology platforms are a springboard for unique research solutions

  • Cost-efficient compute resources can answer most research project needs
  • Data is the lifeblood of modern research
  • Visualization platforms extend data insights
  • Research disciplines also shape platform preferences

Research software is a collaborative endeavor

  • Software "guns for hire" can provide embedded resources while maintaining standards
  • DIY software should be encouraged and guided to safe harbors

Research IT governance, the final frontier?

  • Explicit funding for research IT might be difficult to secure
  • Researcher IT compliance is an academic governance issue


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author