“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”
When I first read this statement through in class I didn’t find it easy to comprehend. Even with a second read I didn’t have an initial reaction, because I wasn’t exactly sure what it was trying to say. However, after taking time to break it down piece by piece I simplified it to be a recipe for research, describing what ingredients going in will produce coming out.
When thinking about the “ingredients” mentioned, human, physical and digital infrastructures, I questioned if there were any other components being left out, it seemed like there must be. But after thinking about all that each of these infrastructures consists of I was satisfied with the use of just these three words. I did google “digital infrastructure” because that was the one that I had the most question on if it captured all of technology and online resources that are used for research. The second hit was:
The Digital Infrastructure is defined as the ability to store and exchange data through a centralized communication system. (http://www.tricounty.org/news/dsp_news_article.cfm?int_news_id=26)
For the results of this recipe are the “production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners”. But after finding the definition for digital infrastructure it made me think that not only are the ingredients necessary to accomplish research, but then in return research contributes back to these infrastructures. So there is a cycle. Because “producing” new knowledge is the act of communicating and then publicizing the findings and making it available in the digital realm. AND as the physical infrastructure “functions” to support the production of new knowledge as well, “new knowledge” is not only applied in digital environments but also physical, meaning the creation of new machines, substances, design, etc.
And the last component to think about is humans. As research utilizes the mind and manpower of humans does it also give back to human infrastructure as it does digital and physical? Looking back at the statement I realize this is the one that is already spelled out, research functions to support “the advancement and training of research practitioners”.
So at the end of this reaction, I synthesize that research uses and then gives back to human, physical and digital infrastructures.
With the statement as is then “new knowledge” would define research contributing to both the physical and digital infrastructures, and the last part covers giving back to humans.
So I think the statement could be improved with further expansion of “new knowledge” and also include “new designs and manufacturing” (Or some phrase to encapsulate the physical results).