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October 2007

Last week some e-science websites published the following exciting news:

“Prestigious Prix Europa award has been won by the BBC Climate Change Experiment, in which the BBC and the Oxford-run project worked together and encouraged over 250,000 people to donate computer time to the world's largest climate modelling experiment…” ( news 22-Oct-2007)


"To design one is nothing,
To build one is easy,
To fly one is everything."

(Otto Lilienthal)

The UK PolicyGrid tries to design and implement a middleware infrastructure that supports policy-related research activities based on social science research. The project called “Semantic Grid Tools for Rural Policy Development & Appraisal” (nb. it’s not difficult to imagine similar policy grid for educational policy decision-making and research). The design of the middleware is based on the provenance architecture. It requires to provide a 'thick' description of the contextual information that allows to interpret data and resources adequately (e.g., Who, What, Where, Why, When, Which and How the resource was created). The concept of the Semantic Grid is central to the design of this project.

Challenging idea?


The US Association for Institutional Research is quite serious about utilising their data archives and improving research in postsecondary educational institutions. This fellowship program for attending the Summer Data Policy Institute (June 8 - 15, 2008) and learning how to use their postsecondary education databases is open for researchers form all countries. (NB. The AIR's databases might be a useful resource for comparative educational research.)

Core URLs:
  • AIR's web site: URL
  • Program description: URL
  • SPIN link: URL

Other related links and thoughts are in the blog


All right. Let’s face it: “Today’s research community must assume responsibility for building a robust data and information infrastructure for the future” (p.1). Recently the group of QUT researchers produced the report that analyses the legal aspects of research data infrastructures and provides some suggestions how to build it:

  • Fitzgerald, A. & Pappalardo, K. (2007). Building the infrastructure for data access and reuse in collaborative research: An analysis of the legal context. Open Access to Knowledge (OAK) Law Project. URL


“This Report examines the legal framework within which research data is generated, managed, disseminated and used. <…> The Report considers how these legal rules apply to define rights in research data and regulate the generation, management and sharing of data. The Report also describes and explains current practices and attitudes towards data sharing. A wide array of databases is analysed to ascertain the arrangements currently in place to manage and provide access to research data. Finally, the Report encourages researchers and research organisations to adopt proper management and legal frameworks for research data outputs…” (CreativeCommons, 12-09-2007).


This blog complements the earlier blog Data repository for teacher education.

It's worth noticing that the need for a database for enhancing teaching and school leadership is one of the five core recommendations in the recently published Australian's Institute's for Teaching and School Leadership report “Teaching and leading for quality Australian schools” (Zammit et al., 2007, pp. 40-43).

“Much research has been conducted investigating the so-called ‘knowledge society’ in which knowledge production, knowledge transfer and knowledge networking have emerged as critical capabilities. However, as Fullan (2002) reported, historically schools have been weak at knowledge building and sharing. It is important to identify not only the data needed by classroom practitioners and school and system leaders, but also how best to engage educators and policy makers in collecting, using and sharing evidence to improve teaching practice and student outcomes. Moreover, through research the teaching profession can participate in shaping its own directions and contribute to the development of policy, practice and frameworks of excellence." (Zamitt et al., 2007, 40).