Virtual Research Environments - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9781843345626, 9781780630144

Virtual Research Environments

1st Edition

From Portals to Science Gateways

Authors: Robert Allan
eBook ISBN: 9781780630144
Paperback ISBN: 9781843345626
Imprint: Chandos Publishing
Published Date: 30th July 2009
Page Count: 284
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Table of Contents

  • List of figures and tables
    • Figures
    • Tables
  • About the author
  • Acknowledgments
  • Preface
  • 1: Introduction
    • What is e-research?
    • What is a VRE?
    • Portals and science gateways for e-research
    • A service-oriented architecture approach
    • Development methodology
  • 2: Motivation and requirements
    • Research lifecycle: data, information and knowledge
    • Generic usage scenario and requirements
    • What functionality does an e-researcher need?
    • What components need to be integrated for e-research?
    • Illustrative examples
  • 3: Creating and using research data
    • Characteristics of data
    • High-performance computing in e-research
    • Managing research data
  • 4: Managing and using digital information
    • Information sources used by researchers
    • E-research and the wider information environment
  • 5: Collaboration, trust and security
    • Virtual organisations and their implementation
    • Collaborative working
    • Collaboration tools
    • Security in a VRE: authentication and authorisation
  • 6: Domain differences and usability
    • E-research, e-learning and digital information
    • Differences between research domains
    • Usability
  • 7: VRE architecture: the technology
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel
    • N-tier architecture
    • Web services and service-oriented architecture
    • Security frameworks
    • VRE service definitions
    • What e-infrastructure is available?
  • 8: E-infrastructure and grid resources
    • What is grid computing?
    • Grid applications
    • Middleware
    • E-infrastructure, SOA and services
  • 9: Desktop environments and the web
    • Lightweight grid computing
    • Desktop e-research tools
    • E-research portals
  • 10: The Sakai collaborative learning and research framework
    • Working with Sakai
    • Portal prototype: the Sakai VRE Demonstrator
    • Portal organisation and use cases
  • 11: Example 1: E-infrastructure for social science research
    • A scenario from social science research
    • Social science research data
    • High-performance modelling and software development
    • Training and outreach
    • E-infrastructure for social science research
    • Experiences with the NCeSS VRE
  • 12: Example 2: E-infrastructure for experimental facilities
    • Requirements and prerequisites
    • Mapping requirements to data flow, data models and analysis
    • Project management and other issues
  • 13: Conclusions: lessons learned and limitations
    • Top ten e-research requirements
    • Impact of e-research
    • Future
  • Appendix A: E-research portals and gateways
    • USA: TeraGrid Science Gateways
    • Projects in Europe
    • Australasia
  • Appendix B: E-research tools and services
    • Portlet registry
  • Appendix C: Generic portal engines
    • Commercial
    • Public domain
  • Appendix D: Glossary
    • Abbreviations and acronyms
    • Web services nomenclature
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Virtual Research Environments examines making Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) usable by researchers working to solve “grand challenge” problems in many disciplines from social science to particle physics. It is driven by research the authors have carried out to evaluate researchers’ requirements in using information services via web portals and in adapting collaborative learning tools to meet their more diverse needs, particularly in a multidisciplinary study.

This is the motivation for what the authors have helped develop into the UK Virtual Research Environments (VRE) programme. They illustrate generics with specific instances of studies carried out comparing portal technologies and evaluating usability. This work, and further development of collaboration and Webbased research tools has been carried out with international collaborators, in particular using the Sakai framework and other recent Java-language based portal programming frameworks and associated standards.

The book is divided into a number of chapters providing motivation, illustrations, comparisons of technology and tools, practical information about deployment and use and comments on issues and difficulties in ensuring uptake of e-Science and Grid technology by already practicing researchers.

Key Features

  • Definition of Virtual Research Environments and e-Research with analogies to Virtual Learning Environments
  • Compilation about how e-Research is carried out with reference to work in UK and USA on portals and services for collaborative learning, shared information services and repositories and their application for multi-disciplinary research
  • Description of Science Gateways to distributed research resources (Grid computing, data and Web 2.0 style collaboration tools) and their relevance to the grand challenges facing research requiring large teams


Information professionals and other knowledge managers, librarians, and researchers


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© Chandos Publishing 2009
Chandos Publishing
eBook ISBN:
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A useful addition to the stock of many libraries in universities and other research institutions., Refer
A valuable resource for e-research initiated and novices at present, and will document the state of e-research in 2008 for posterity., Library Management

Ratings and Reviews

About the Authors

Robert Allan Author

Robert Allan, STFC Daresbury Laboratory, UK

Affiliations and Expertise

Consultant Physician, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK