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Top-Down e-Infrastructure Meets Bottom-Up Research Innovation: The Social Shaping of e-Research

By Eric Meyer and William Dutton

Abstract

Are advances in ICTs enabling positive transformations in academic research practices? This paper explores key themes emerging from a 2008 survey of researchers aimed at identifying use and non-use of advanced ICTs for research. Deterministic perspectives on e-Research suggest that new e-infrastructures will reshape research in predictable ways, such as by fostering more collaboration. In contrast, social shaping perspectives lead to the expectation that existing practices and institutions will shape the ways in which e-Research is employed. This exploratory study found that individual variations across researchers cluster into identifiable groupings of research practices, which help to illuminate involvement in e-Research, and differences in methods and research software used across the disciplines. In line with a social shaping perspective, the findings suggest that, in the social sciences, top-down visions of e-infrastructure development need to be tied to the realities of bottom-up patterns of innovation in approaches to e-Research.e-Research, e-Social Science, survey, research software,

DOI identifier: 10.1080/08109020903127810
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