University College London and Elsevier launch UCL Big Data Institute

In new innovation hub, researchers will explore new technologies and analytics to help scientists find relevant information faster

A new innovation hub will tackle the challenges researchers face as they seek to forecast trends, synthesize information from thousands of research papers, and show the potential societal impact of their research so it will be eligible for funding.

University College London and Elsevier are establishing the UCL Big Data Institute, a collaboration to empower researchers to explore innovative ways to apply new technologies and analytics to scholarly content and data.

University College London (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)Elsevier believes that linking analytics and scientific content is one of the key ways to better serve scientists; the company will fund research through the Institute related to the analysis, use and storage of big data.

The Institute will build on Elsevier's acquisition of Mendeley, which operates a global research management and collaboration platform from the heart of east London's tech start-up community, and Elsevier's recent investment into building a London-based world-class web analytics group. Elsevier will establish a Centre of Excellence within this web analytics group in connection with the Institute, co-staffed with UCL researchers. The Centre will be based at Mendeley's headquarters, making it easier for colleagues to share knowledge and resources; it will offer employment as well as commercialization activities in collaboration with UCL.

"Our aim is to help scientists do better research and do it faster," said Elsevier CEO Ron Mobed. "This is a significant investment by Elsevier in UK science in an area where we have outstanding expertise, and in collaboration with a world-leading institution."

UCL has a wide range of research activities and joint initiatives in the broad and expanding area of big data and research analytics. To connect these initiatives, UCL is developing a Research Domain for "e-Research" with an online community that will enable researchers in a wide range of fields, from particle physics to digital humanities, share insights into better use of large computational resources in research. The Big Data Institute will be a key addition to that family of activities.

The researchers will have access to Elsevier's data and enterprise-level technology, opening up new research possibilities with a broad range of applications. One of these is the open-source big-data technology HPCC, which being used by Elsevier in the ScienceDirect and SciVal platforms and by LexisNexis Risk Solutions, owned by Elsevier's parent company, Reed Elsevier .

Ron MobedMobed summarized the importance of big data and the role of HPCC technology at today's ceremony for the opening of the UCL Big Data Institute:

Today, our research platforms bring the world's academic literature and data to millions of users, 24 hours a day, every day of the year. So it will come as no surprise that we already do analytics on top of big data. Take ScienceDirect – our full-text research content platform serving researchers. Using cutting edge distributed computing technology – called HPCC – we are able to deliver real time 'Amazon-style' article recommendations by running analytics on terabytes of usage data. That makes it vastly easier and much faster for researchers to discover information that is relevant to their work.

Making our researchers more productive has a significant multiplier effect on the economy as they are able to produce results that foster medical and scientific discovery, technological advances, commercial development, jobs and productivity.

For the collaboration, Elsevier will provide the technological and publishing know-how and expertise in interpreting structured data, as well as an understanding of the marketplace. UCL will contribute their academic expertise and creativity to finding solutions, along with a deep understanding of the research process and the needs of researchers.

UCL President and Provost Dr. Michael Arthur said: "The UCL Big Data Institute will keep us at the forefront of addressing pressing issues around the storage of big data, the curation of scientific information, and the production, disclosure and consumption of research information. UCL and Elsevier inevitably have complementary interests in many aspects of research dissemination and will both together and independently continue to develop these for the good of the global research effort."


Elsevier Connect Contributor

Iris KisjesIris Kisjes (@Kisjes) has worked at Elsevier for seven years, the past four in communications. She is currently Senior Corporate Relations Manager, based in Amsterdam. She has a keen interest in the knowledge economy, especially in relation to the valorization of science and the longevity of the higher education system.

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