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New partnership boosts information systems services for UK research community

Information services for the UK’s research community have received a significant boost with the signing of a new agreement between the Joint Information Services Committee (JISC) and the Research Councils.

The agreement will strengthen cooperation and ensure that the research community has access to improved services, such as increased network bandwidth. The move will also ensure that thousands of scientists in Research Council Institutes will have the same access to JISC services as their university-based counterparts.

Ensuring that the UK research base has access to the information services it needs is vital in ensuring it maintains its world-class status. JISC and the Research Councils already cooperate closely across a wide range of areas, including e-infrastructure, e-Science, the National Grid Service, data curation and access to research outputs. Outputs from this relationship have included advances in drug discovery, new insights into the distribution of poverty among ethnic minorities, and experiments with e-Science techniques to push the boundaries of artistic performance. The new agreement cements the existing relationship, but provides formal representation of the Research Councils on the JISC Board and its networking and research committees.

Among the new areas of cooperation covered by the agreement will be support for the network bandwidth needs of the Research Councils. In addition, JISC will now provide the Research Councils with access to all its non-chargeable services, subject to further agreement, while a dedicated relationship manager to be based within the JISC Executive will provide a point of contact to help ensure that the Research Councils continue to receive the services they require.

Dr Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary, welcomed the signing of the agreement, saying: “This agreement cements what is already a close and very fruitful partnership. But more importantly perhaps, it paves the way for even greater cooperation in the future. This agreement means that UK research will continue to have access to the best possible services and support to help ensure that it remains among the best in the world.”

Speaking of behalf of the Research Councils, Professor Julia Goodfellow, said: “The agreement is an important step in maintaining the core missions of the Research Councils, particularly as it will help us to further increase interdisciplinary cooperation. For the Research Councils that operate institutes, the agreement means that institute-based researchers now have improved access to the same international quality information facilities as counterparts in university departments.”

The agreement was signed by JISC (Joint Information Systems Committee) and Research Councils UK (RCUK), the strategic partnership of the Research Councils. It formalises the relationship between JISC and RCUK and outlines the services JISC will provide to the Research Councils.

Julia Short | alfa
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