General lessons and the future

The experience of the project and the evaluation of work allowed further reflection on what the tools and services it was developing did andĀ didn’tĀ achieve. A key aspect of this was illustrated in fact in all of the cases where the tools developed were used to attempt to connect communities. Interesting links were found, but not necessarily ones that were useful in the task of connecting the communities as they related to individual members but were not necessarily a core part of either community. Taking this into account, in the knowledge mapping that was created of the SPIRES community, topics that were part of the core scope of the community were separated from those that were mainly related just to individual members. Even this however, was found not sufficient in some cases and requires further thought and analysis. This was particularly the case for networks which people had joined not because of their particular specialism, but because of a set of other requirements This is something therefore that was an important lesson learnt, as well as indicating the importance of work to help identify the aspirational and less well-defined aspects of a community that need to be uncovered.

Nevertheless, the key implication that the project feels can be drawn from its experience, is that by using techniques of the kind it has developed, together with enhancements of these and further developments, new opportunities and potential collaborations can be found, whether this is within or across institutions or wider networks and communities. The opportunities this presents could be utilised at every level, from providing connections to individual researchers, to finding connections between research networks and communities, to helping identify strategic directions for research more widely. The potential for improving and enhancing research generally through the wide deployment of the work of the project and further developments from it are very considerable, and it is hoped that this potential can be realised through further work and collaboration.