Researchers Needs

An important part of the SERENATE project has been a study into the networking needs of users in the European research community. That study assessed the expected networking needs of researchers in Europe over the subsequent five years or so. Its conclusions were derived primarily by analysing the views of active researchers from a large range of subject disciplines and geographic locations. Those views were obtained by a questionnaire and by discussions at two workshops. The results were published in May 2003.

As in SERENATE, a study of the current and future networking needs of users in the research and higher-education community is an important part of EARNEST. In the end, it is the requirements of these users that provide the most important justification for the effort and resources that are being invested in research networking. The indications that these users can give about the services that they expect to require from research networks in 5-10 years' time provide directions for the technology and service development by research networking organisations.

In addition, in the GN2 contract the European Commission has requested that this study area will not only be approached in a forward looking way; as an additional task, evidence should be provided of the impact that the development of research and education networking infrastructure and services has had in recent years on research in various disciplines.

The work in the sub-study on Researchers' needs is being led by the European Science Foundation (ESF). Two surveys were conducted by Technopolis Ltd. In the first stage, a single large-scale survey was directed at professional researchers working at research institutions and universities across Europe in all disciplines and fields of scientific and scholarly endeavour. More than 4,000 responses were obtained. A second survey, which was smaller in scale but more focused than the earlier part of the study, directly followed the first one. The main goal of this second survey was to examine more thoroughly issues related to access to applications, information, training and IT support. The impact of new network related services on research and training were also addressed.