Research IT

Sharing Computational and Data Expertise at UoM

The University of Manchester is one of the largest UK universities with over 6000 PGRs and researchers. There is a great deal of expertise and knowledge within the University but how do we share that knowledge? A new central hub for special interest groups (SIGs) and user groups centred around computational research and data analytics hopes to help.

The Computation and Data in Research community (CaDiR) was originally proposed by Prof Dave Topping (Earth and Environmental Sciences) and Robert Haines (Head of Research IT). The aim of CaDiR is to provide a central place within the University for special interest and users groups to sit so that they can be easily discovered and supported by the research community. It has also become the new home for the Digital Futures managed Innovation Clubs.

Dave said “I think CaDiR provides a number of benefits to both individuals and how we work collaboratively across the University. The landscape of computing is changing rapidly, as are research driven challenges. There are so many existing sub communities across the University, it can be difficult to know how or where to find them and become part of that community. Rather than creating more structures, CaDiR exposes all these sub communities under one banner. This provides a real opportunity for everyone to meet evolving research challenges in a collaborative way and, importantly, have a say in how the University supports this in a sustainable manner. With regards to the latter, CaDiR also provides a pan University space where researchers can apply to sit on strategic boards and influence what we invest in and how we might improve working practices.

How Does It Work?

Each special interest group or user group has its own channel under the CaDiR umbrella in Microsoft Teams. Once there, University researchers and PGRs can then choose which channels to receive notifications for, allowing them to tailor the content for their interests. However, browsing the channels is encouraged to perhaps discover new items of interest!

If you would like to create and lead a SIG or user group, you can complete a form that asks a series of simple, straight forward questions about the remit of the group etc. There are two main points to note: you must have the support of 10 other people from different Faculties / Schools to support your application; and agree to help write a news article for the Research IT website to help promote your group.

The SIGs or user groups are driven and led by the research community for the research community. It is up to each group how they would like to collaborate and share knowledge either purely through their Teams space, meeting up in-person / online or a mix of the two.

As Robert Haines explained “Technology moves quickly, and the technology that we use in our research is no exception. One of the most exciting aspects of CaDiR for me, is that for the first time we have a unified space at the University where we can start, and join, user groups and clubs centred around what we’re using right now – and if that changes, we can easily move around and see what others are doing. In the past we’ve built great communities that have scattered as the tech has moved on; with CaDiR we have a community that can adapt and change without having to restart every so often. I hope this gives people another route to establish new collaborations, and I’m looking forward to seeing what we all come up with as a result.”.

If you have any questions about CaDiR please contact us!