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A preliminary survey of ICT use in research projects within the Humanities Division in the University of Oxford carried out in summer 2004 has identified a number of areas of need and overlapping interest which provide a context for the creation and deployment of VRE tools for Humanities researchers.

Building a Virtual Research Environment for the Humanities (BVREH)

Research activities in Humanities subject fields have traditionally centred on the work of individual scholars and small groups. Their needs are now increasingly being served by the availability of networked resources which in some fields have already transformed the way in which research is undertaken. In general, however, while the scale and intensity of collaborative research activity in other disciplines have grown rapidly in step with developments in ICT, progress and awareness of similar possibilities in the Humanities have been less marked. A preliminary survey of ICT use in research projects within the Humanities Division in the University of Oxford carried out in summer 2004 has identified a number of areas of need and overlapping interest which provide a context for the creation and deployment of VRE tools for Humanities researchers. The survey revealed strong support for such an initiative and suggests that the Humanities research resources at Oxford provide an appropriate testbed for a project to investigate and identify the potential benefits of a VRE for the Humanities research community in general. 

Aims and Objectives  

The programme aims to extend the range and depth of the preliminary survey of ICT use within and outside Oxford in order to identify specific areas in which the benefits of deploying VRE tools are likely to be substantial (for example: communication, project management and design, efficiency, access to resources) and to define those where the benefits may be more marginal; on this basis to identify specific tools appropriate for deployment as demonstrators; and, in the final cycle of project activity, to implement the demonstrators and to assess their effectiveness.

The work will be supervised and coordinated with a steering group in which other institutions aree strongly represented. The project intends to collaborate where appropriate with the AHRC-funded ICT Methods Network and the JISC-funded ICT Awareness and Training Programme for the Arts and Humanities as well as other national Humanities services such as the AHDS, Humbul and Artifact.The proposal is designed so that the outcomes will be relevant for VRE deployments being proposed both within Oxford and nationally. In particular, the project will collaborate with the JISC-funded Integrative Biology VRE. It is proposed that applications developed as part of the demonstrator workpackage will be available locally in the first instance and, if appropriate, exposed for integration into national or inter-institutional VREs. 

Project Staff

Project Manager  

Ruth Kirkham
Classics Centre, Old Boys' School, George Street, Oxford OX1 2RL 

The Project Team  

Professor Alan K. Bowman
Brasenose College, Oxford, OX1 4AJ
alan.bowman@classics.ox.ac.uk
Tel: 01865 277874 

Dr C.V. Crowther
Classics Centre, Old Boys School, George Street, Oxford OPX1 2RL
charles.crowther@classics.ox.ac.uk
01865 288180 

Dr Matthew Dovey, OUCS
matthew.dovey@oucs.ox.ac.uk 

Dr Michael Fraser, OUCS
mike.fraser@oucs.ox.ac.uk 

Technical Officer (to be appointed)

Summary
Start date
1 April 2005
End date
30 October 2006
Funding programme
Virtual Research Environments programme (Phase 1)
Project website
Topic