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TU Berlin

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E-Sciences and their new Interfaces

Technical and institutional transformations within science and their implications on research: Two case studies, from the humanities (TextGrid) and climate research (C3-Grid)

Principal Investigator

Dr. Sonja Palfner

Research Associate and Doctoral Candidate

Mag. MSc. Ulla Tschida

Student Assistant

Dipl.-Ing. Antje Vorwerk




November 2010 – October 2013


In the past years e-infrastructure developments have been promoted in all academic disciplines. The objective of these developments is to provide researchers with access to virtual work environments and databases spread over great geographical distances. Furthermore, new opportunities for analysis and co-operative approaches to research will be enabled, independent of temporal and spatial restrictions.
New technical and institutional interfaces are emerging, impacting on the practices of the individuals involved and thus significantly affecting the scope of their potential activity in the academic field.
The guiding hypothesis of this research project is that virtual research environments and centres of excellence constitute the new technical and institutional interfaces within a changing topology of science. It is of crucial importance to reflect on their development as well as their practical impacts, because it is important to consider how they might interfere with the social structure of science and with the preconditions for the production of knowledge, now and in the future.
These interfaces thus constitute the empirical object of research of the project E-Science-Interfaces, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since November 2010. In this context two case studies will be investigated: TextGrid, a modular platform designed for geographically widespread and co-operative scientific text processing, and C3-INAD, a virtual collaborative global system in the field of earth system research. On the basis of these two examples, the development and use of virtual research environments and the processes towards an increased institutionalisation of e-sciences will be compared and analysed. One of the main objectives of the project is to gain empirically sound insights into the development of e-infrastructures in two different spheres of research in Germany. Furthermore, the project will offer initial answers to the question of how the development of scientific e-infrastructures functions.

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