Research Infrastructure Roles: Introduction

It is rare that successful collaborations occur without a person, or group of people, taking on the work of structuring participants interactions, facilitating work, and supporting the impact of the project. These people may be either volunteers or paid, depending on a project’s funding, size, length, and number of organisations involved.

They’re called research infrastructure roles because the work they perform is primarily to support the work of researchers, although research can also be a significant proportion of these roles as well. The specifics of these roles will vary but can include handling administrative work, managing data storage, stakeholder engagement, community management, communications, software engineering, events coordination, and a lot more.

People performing these types of roles come from varied backgrounds, but will often have some research experience, although not necessarily in the field they are now working in. Examples of role titles include: Community manager, project manager, research software engineer, reproducibility lead, research application manager, programme manager, administrator, or network coordinator.

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this chapter.

Summary

This chapter of the Turing Way covers examples of different research infrastructure roles, their importance in promoting collaboration, ethical research, and reproducibility, and additional resources to find out more about them.

We invite anyone who works in a research infrastructure role to share their experiences as a case study.

Motivation and Background

Without research infrastructure roles, a lot of projects would never succeed! But this work is often hidden and not visible in academia, where papers and citations are the primary “reputation currency” and the system is very focused on promoting those in “traditional” academic careers. The motivation for writing this chapter and providing examples of the type of work that goes into research infrastructure is to make this hidden labour visible to a wider audience and highlight just how critical these aspects of research are for any community or project.

Other initiatives such as the Software Sustainability Institute, the Center for Scientific Collaboration & Community Engagement, and the Hidden REF, are all contributing to the growing recognition of the importance of these roles for research.