“The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners.”
Like others have already mentioned, this quote appears simple at first, but is really quite complex after each read. One question that immediately jumps into my mind is whether the ordering of each element in “human, physical and digital infrastructures” is important and if the author of the quote had some sort of hierarchy in mind. A hierarchy for this would make sense since the whole process of research begins with humans. Humans need buildings and materials to conduct experiments; the data found through those experiments must then be stored and analyzed digitally. The results from those analyses turn into research, and henceforth, new knowledge. However, I believe that the author might be contradicting himself when he uses the words, “complex system”. The hierarchy from human to physical to digital seems like a fairly straight path, according to the way the quote is worded. The infrastructures do not seem that intricate at all, and I am left to wonder what exactly about this hierarchy is complex.
One idea that I think this hierarchy is missing is the path after “digital”. I believe that the end path should be “human”, since the quote is about training researchers. New knowledge is created after digital tools are used to analyze and communicate it. But who is there to receive this new knowledge? And how exactly does this new knowledge relate to the training of other researchers? I assume that the author is trying to create a sort of cycle here: advanced researchers produce new knowledge for other researchers to use and to become better and/or more intelligent researchers. But the chain that the author has created in the quote does not seem cyclical and does not tie-in enough with his main idea.
This is a quote with a nice “sweeping” quality in that it demonstrates many ideas in one sentence. A person would be able to read the quote quickly and easily understand its main point. But after deeply investigating the quote, I’ve found that there are a lot of ambiguities that could be expanded upon that would still keep the quote short and simple.