The announcement was made this week about the Robertson Library winning the Atlantic Regional CAUBO award for our Virtual Research Environment, or VRE. The text from the award:
The other winners are available from the CAUBO site. You can get more information on the VRE and the software that sits behind it at our VRE and Islandora sites.
The Virtual Research Environment (VRE) is an innovative software system for stewarding research data regardless of the type of data or discipline. The VRE combines a best-practice web-based content management system (Drupal) with a state-of-the-art data repository system (Fedora) via an open source application suite (Islandora) developed at UPEI. Together, these components help solve one of the most important and challenging aspects of any research-intensive institution: the reliable stewardship of research data throughout the life-cycle of a research program and beyond.
The VRE provides a wealth of social software tools and techniques to provide a highly-functional environment that encourages collaboration. It allows users to create workflows that can transform data into more usable formats and ensure that accessible versions of research assets are available to collaborators and/or the broader public. Over 50 research groups currently use the VRE system, representing all disciplines and research approaches, including interdisciplinary projects with international communities of interest. Examples include the Mollusc Health Lab, Marine Natural Products Lab, Marxism and Psychology Research Group, Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing, and the L.M. Montgomery Institute. The VRE software is also the basis of the library’s digital collections, including newspapers, magazines, books, audio and video.
The flexible architecture of the VRE system means that any digital file can be stored, described and accessed in a variety of ways, accommodating the requirements of individual researchers, while building a generalized framework which adapts to more uses. By bringing the core philosophies of the open source community to the research effort, the VRE also provides a transformative landscape on which to build UPEI’s research excellence and outreach. By distributing the open source software behind the VRE to the larger community, these same benefits will be available to the larger Canadian and international research communities. Emerging partnerships with other institutions (e.g., University of New Brunswick) and vendors (Sun Microsystems Inc.) point to the success of the VRE and related development efforts at UPEI’s Robertson Library.