Looking at the definition of eResearch as (basically) the use of computers and communications technologies to support research, one might ask why is there is a need for a specialist eResearch Unit? This can be answered in two parts:
- Firstly, most central university Information Technology Digital Service (ITDS) Departments have traditionally focused on providing generic services such as standard desktop computers and back-end systems including payroll and Human Resources. The eResearch unit on the other hand, works with ITDS to build services for researchers that just don't exist at present.
- Secondly, while there is some basic common infrastructure that is needed for IT-supported research, once you get into particular disciplines and research projects, there is a need for custom solutions. This may include:
- Software to pull data from special instruments,
- Visualisations tuned to particular data sets,
- New hardware for data collection.
All these solutions require close partnerships between researchers, IT providers and more often than not, other service units. At the Western Sydney University, eResearch is the match-maker in getting these partnerships established.