Sakai VRE demonstrator user requirements
This page contains notes about the requirements of VRE users.
- Suppporting researchers' day to day activities . But in , we see a desire for supporting less frequent administrative activities (travel, grants, expenses, etc.).
- Repeatability of in silico experiments, through a central repository in silico experiments ; this is a copy of everything (code, data, scripts, instructions) that is needed to accurateley repeat a given in-silico experiment.
- Access to best-practice documentation, and support for best practices, within the VRE 
- Publicly accessible front-door for demonstration of core infrastructure (Really? How does this support research?) 
- Remote collaborative manipulation of data objects of various kinds, supported by an audio link 
- Capture and store collaborative discussions 
- Some of the specific requirements mentioned above appear to be motivated by a desire for support in training new researchers
- Access to high-performance computation facilities for modelling 
- Maintain multiple usernames/passwords for a range of databases and services: single sign-on suggested 
- Locate other researchers 
- Searchable list of conferences, lectures and other events 
- Selective delivery of information  (this also came up in , sect 4.5)
- Supporting grant applications 
- Forums and spaces for internal communication and recruitment 
- Access to searchable databases of digital (digitized) artefacts 
2. Specific domains
(Requirements that seem to be specific to a domain)
- Environment simple and easy for non-technical users
3. Proposed VRE tools
- Digital pen-and-paper technology  (e.g. Anoto - ref in )
- Digital whiteboard to support distributed mathematical modelling 
- Collaborative video annotation ; e.g. Vannotea.
- Simulation software issue tracking tool , with reference to traceability of in-silico experiments affected by software changes
- Linked agenda meeting scheduling tool 
- Calendar tool 
- RSS aggregator tool 
- Local wikis and chat 
- Secure storage of digital ink and whiteboard notes 
- Personal access grids (video conferencing) 
- Biological data repositories 
- Configuration management support 
4. Other comments
- Scientific workflow: from  (sect 4.8.1), it appears that this is highly variable between researchers, which raises a question about the suitability of common workflow support within the VRE.
- In , the report "such a technology, if it were sufficiently robost and easy to use ..." is made of a proposed tool with clear benefit, but also the clear implication that if it were not so robust and easy to use then it would not be used
- In , the discussion of collaborative video annotation makes passing reference to the need for local copies. This spurs the idea that if one researcher is examining a particular dataset offline from the actual collaboration, this might be used as a clue to initiate creation of local caches for other participants so the data can be brought quickly into the collaborative session
Not looking for support in paper-writing acrtivities 
- Wiki also used as training tool 
- Follow Google desktop presentation style/ideas for ease of use? 
- Is there a science/humanities dichotomy in the requirement for core research activity support vs administrative activity support? (cf.  sect 1.1 and  sect 3.2). For the humantities, the access to searchable databases of digital artefacts was the only requirement that appeared to be directly bearing on research activity. Am I wrong?
- The issue of gaining a critical mass of buy-in is raised in , section 3.5. Experience from the standards community suggests that the design must provide some immediate benefits not dependent on such buy-in.
- Does using the system give continuing value after the user leaves a given institution. I (GK) can attest to the importance of this: I use personal email and Web services, sometimes linked to the Oxford systems, because of precisely such concerns. I think that paying attention to interoperability via widely used open standards may be important here.
5. Related projects
- Resource Discovery Service (RDS) 
- Academic Computing development team (SCDT) 
Does it really make sense to substitute the term e-research for e-science? There appears to be quite a large difference between the requirements of science and humanities researchers with respect to what they want from a VRE. Do these requirements really lead to a common system or is it a case of seeing just nails when the tool we have is a chainsaw? (Matthew Dovey made a point about this, the details of which I have mentally mislaid.)
http://www.vre.ox.ac.uk/ibvre/IBVRE%20Initial%20Analysis%20Report.pdf - IBVRE initial requirements analysis report
http://bvreh.humanities.ox.ac.uk/BVREH_Interim_Results_of_User_Survey_Report_web.pdf - BVREH Interim user survey report.
-- GrahamKlyne 2006-02-22 16:17:51