Oxford eSocial Science (OeSS) Project

Project Description:

This project is a cross-disciplinary collaboration between the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and the Oxford eResearch Centre (OeRC), drawing on connections with the humanities, social and computer sciences and engineering across the University of Oxford. Scientific collaboration is increasingly coming to be seen as critically dependent upon effective access to shared digital research data and the advanced information tools that enable data storage, search, retrieval, visualization, and higher level analysis. The increasing role that advanced ICTs play in the practice of scientific research promises the potential to transform the way facts about the physical and social world are acquired, shared, analyzed, and translated into useful knowledge. This project examines the application of ICTs to social science. The terms 'e-Research', 'cyberinfrastructure', 'Grid computing', 'e-Science',' e-Social Science' and 'e-Humanities' all refer to distributed, collaborative, data- and information-intensive research activities. Building large, collaborative systems is not just a technical challenge: by looking at e-Research from a social shaping perspective, we are able to understand how researchers shape the technologies they use, and how they in turn have their behaviour shaped by the technologies and by social, ethical, legal and organizational forces. Case studies are being undertaken in the following areas: Qualitative Data; Quantitative Data; Biological and Biomedical Data, Collaborative Research Environments, Web 2.0 Collaborative Environments, Geosimulation / Geovisualization. Issues being studied include: ownership in relation to IPR; institutional infrastructures (including copyright, IPR, liability, contracts etc); privacy and data protection; sustainability; virtual research environments (VREs) in Higher Education institutions; ethics in e-social science; privacy and trust; co-present and distributed collaboration (including issues of trust, ownership, motivation and working practices); disciplinary cultures and work practices; the history and future of e-Science; anonymity and confidentiality; and Open Science. They are informed by literature reviews, in-depth interviews and the case studies. Survey research has examined whether social scientists are aware of e-research initiatives and the characteristics of early adopters of e-social science practices and technologies.