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Century of Information Research Strategy

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A set of documents is being prepared to represent community views on the future of research drawing on experience from e-Science. The initial UK e-Science programme from 2001 to 2006 had a very significant impact: building a community, demonstrating the power of e-Science methods, changing the way in which research is done and equipping UK research and industry with new knowledge and skills. This built on the UK's ambient research strengths in all disciplines. The use of computer-enabled methods in research has a long history that has built considerable strengths in the UK of great relevance to all research councils and disciplines. The e-Science programme was triggered by a transition in the scale of available digital data, the power of digital networks and a steady fall in the cost of computation. The wealth of opportunities that this opened warranted an investment to stimulate and aggregate efforts to develop the UK's capabilities. Capabilities which are needed to thrive in the digitally rich and globally interconnected world.

To gain the best return on that investment it is necessary to follow a strategy that balances organic research-led innovation with federated efforts to build the most productive and capable UK research and innovation community. The documents being assembled below are intended to help shape that strategy. They are presented for public comment: we welcome suggestions that help improve our foresight, suggest corrections, sharpen the presentation, criticise our judgement or provide endorsement. We will do our best to listen attentively and take the maximum advantage of all suggestions.

We call the strategy "Century-of-Information Research Strategy" or "CIR Strategy" for short.


From 2001-2006 the UK e-Science Programme invested in all disciplines, all Research Councils and all regions, with funds through each research council and the DTI. The EPSRC provided coordination and a core programme for all communities. This had significant community as well as research and innovation effects.

The Office of Science and Innovation set up a working group on e-Infrastructure, which in February 2007 produced a number of reports concerning the requirements for e-Infrastructure.

The Study of Users' Priorities for E-Infrastructure for Research (SUPER) obtained opinions from the research community on their priorities for e-Infrastructure. A report was produced summarising the findings report (March 2007).

The e-Science Directors’ Forum initiated a working group to respond to SUPER (12th April 2007). The working group has recognised the high value of an approach informed by e-Science for UK research, innovation, education and the wider community.

The documents offered for consultation are an outcome of the working group. Fragmentation of the community, of processes, of provision and of resources emerged as a major concern. Failure to address it will lead to a loss of community, its knowledge and skills, which would constitute a weakening of the UK's competitive potential and a poor return on its research investment.

The e-Science Directors' Forum reviewed progress of the working group at its meetings of 4th July and 30th October 2007. It endorsed the work on each occasion and provided a substantial set of suggestions, which we hope we have used effectively.

At a lecture at Westminster University on 25 October 2007, the Prime Minister, Gordon Brown designates this the "Century of Information".

A UK e-Science Directors' Forum discussed (via Access Grid on 23rd January 2008) the latest version of the CIR Strategy based on document CIR3 version 1i. There was strong endorsement of the direction in which the Strategy is progressing and many suggestion for further ideas, better presentation and detailed development. Eight members of the Strategy working group were at the meeting taking note of suggestions.


The table below gives the current membership, with affiliations and roles. Anyone who would like to volunteer to assist with the development of a document is welcome to e-mail mpa[at] with a cc to jo[at]

  • Prof Malcolm Atkinson (chair) – Director, e-Science Institute, e-Science Envoy, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Dave Berry - Deputy Director, National e-Science Centre
  • Prof David Britton – University of Glasgow (GridPP)
  • Prof Peter Coveney – University College London & CCP Strategy chair
  • Prof David De Roure – University of Southampton & OMII-UK chair
  • Dr Ned Garnett – NERC
  • Dr Neil Geddes – STFC e-Science Centre & NGS director
  • Prof Robert Gurney – Reading e-Science Centre & NERC
  • Prof David Ingram – Director CHIME at University College London
  • Prof Keith Haines – Reading e-Science Centre & NERC
  • Dr Lorna Hughes – Director, Arts & Humanities e-Science Support Centre, King’s College London
  • Dr Liz Lyon – Director UKOLN, University of Bath
  • Prof Paul Jeffreys – IT Director, University of Oxford
  • Mr Ian Osborne – INTELLECT
  • Prof Ron Perrott – Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast Regional e-Science Centre & HEC Technology Panel
  • Prof Rob Procter – National Centre for e-Social Science & ESRC, University of Manchester
  • Mr Chris Rusbridge – Director, Digital Curation Centre, University of Edinburgh
  • Prof Anne Trefethen – Oxford e-Research Centre
  • Prof Paul Watson - Director, North-East Regional e-Science Centre


The following documents are being prepared by the working group, sometimes in conjunction with others.

  1. Proposed actions for JCSR arising from the CIR Strategy
  2. Century of Information Research (CIR) Strategy Executive Summary
  3. Century of Information Research Strategy (CIR): a strategy to meet the research challenges and opportunities in the century of information
  4. Century of Information Research Strategy (CIR): motivation, rationale and impact assessment
  5. Century of Information Research Strategy (CIR): background - e-Science achievements
  6. Century of Information Research Strategy (CIR): challenges
  7. Century of Information Research Strategy (CIR): International context


Date Event
February Developing the UK’s e-infrastructure for science and innovation report published by OSI
March SUPER report published
12th April e-Science Directors' Forum initiates the group
2nd-3rd July Face-to-face meeting of the working group in Edinburgh – decide to be driven by the Research Councils' mission statements and plans in other countries to address similar issues
4th July Review of working group progress by the e-Science Directors' Forum
25th October The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, designates this the "Century of Information"
30th October Review of working group progress by the e-Science Directors' Forum
7th November Meeting with Prof. John Wood (as chair of ESFRI and JCSR) for advice on the strategy
26th November Meeting with Dr Graham Spittle (as chair of the TSB Board) for advice on the strategy
27th November Presentation to the RCUK e-Science & HEC Reps meeting, Swindon
28th November Input to the EPSRC e-Science SAT meeting, London
4th December Subset of working group meet face-to-face in Oxford
10th December Reading meeting in afternoon to get two drafts ready for public comment
11th December London John Wood, JISC Board & Sir Keith O'Nions' invitation to DIUS announcement of Research Council delivery plans
12th December Telephone conference with Peter Coveney (replaced by meeting on 21st February)
18th December By this date the first drafts of documents 2 & 3 will be available for public comment (postponed to 18 Jan 2008)
23rd January e-Science Directors' Forum - following a vigorous discussion there was strong endorsement of the CIR Strategy and the working group was strongly encouraged to continue its development
25th January EPSRC Programme Managers (postponed)
13th February JISC Support of Research Committee to discuss the CIR strategy
14th February Further draft documents available for public review
19th February Discussed document with Jane Nicholson at EPSRC
21st February Meeting with Peter Coveney and persuaded Peter Coveney and Ian Osborne to join the working group
4th March Liz Lyon and David Ingram join the working group
11th March JISC Board approve the following JISC Strategy for support of research
13th-14th March Workshop at NeSC to refine the vision by discussing challenges that can be addressed using e-Science. Event details (NB: registration is closed)
2nd April Further discussion at the e-Science Directors' Forum. Dave Berry and Paul Watson join the working group.
June Full set of documents available, all having been revised through public comment. Documents 1 to 4 will be as published reports, though later versions may be issued. Documents 5 to 7 will be available as well-developed drafts, still open to comment.
3rd July Meeting of the working group
13th September Panel discussion of the CIR at eResearch08, Oxford - Century-of-Information Research (CIR): A Strategy for Research and Innovation in the Century of Information (PDF 124 KB) - Link to ORA Conference/Workshop Paper: "Century-of-Information Research (CIR): a strategy for research and innovation in the Century of Information"
September First versions of documents 5 to 7 will be published by this date.
10th November Paper resulting from the discussions on 13th September 2008 submitted to Prometheus journal for publication
March The E-Science Directors' Forum Strategy Working Group; Malcolm Atkinson; David Britton; Peter Coveney; David De Roure; Ned Garnett; Neil Geddes; Robert Gurney; Keith Haines; Lorna Hughes; David Ingram; Paul Jeffreys; Liz Lyon; Ian Osborne; Ron Perrott; Rob Procter; Chris Rusbridge; Anne Trefethen; Paul Watson. Century-of-Information Research (CIR): A Strategy for Research and Innovation in the Century of Information. Prometheus, 27, 27-45. DOI: 10.1080/08109020802657479.
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