Research Information Centre Framework

Discontinuing Support for RIC

As of April 30, 2013, Microsoft Research Connections’ support of the Research Information Centre has ended, and we will no longer provide material support or monitor the related forums.


Research Information Centre Framework

The goal of a virtual research environment (VRE) is to provide an online space for research collaboration, and too often to enable a unifying point of entry to the myriad of tools, workflows, processes, data, and people involved in a research project or lab. The Research Information Centre (RIC) was a VRE prototype that was jointly developed by Microsoft Research Connections and The British Library from 2007 to 2009, which built upon Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 functionality to meet the needs of academic and industry researchers who are engaged in collaborative research projects.

From the RIC, project sites could be created and managed, and specific content, tools, workflows, and services would be presented to researchers in the context of a research project lifecycle. Each participating researcher had a personal space—independent of project participation—for storing documents, data, search results and tasks. Each researcher could be added to one or more project sites, providing them with secure access to the information related to each project. Individual project owners were provided with a rich set of building block tools, such as calendars, task lists, wikis, blogs, and surveys with which they could easily extend and customize the functionality of their project sites. Project sites were themselves considered to be scholarly objects, and could be exported and archived as individual projects were completed.

Several the features that were implemented during the RIC VRE project were made obsolete by native features that were subsequently released in Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, and a more modular and manageable approach was adopted for a follow-up effort: Virtual Research Environment toolkits for SharePoint. These kits have been developed by the British Library, the University of Southampton, the Oxford University, LaTrobe University, University of Delhi, and SoftEdge Systems.