UCL News


UCL Dean chairs science strategy committee

7 September 2007

Professor Ray Harris (UCL Geography) has chaired the first meeting of the International Council for Science (ICSU)'s Strategic Committee on Information & Data, whose work will feed into a paper at the next ICSU Annual General Meeting, to be held in Mozambique in October 2008.

The strategic committee, whose participants are scientists and data managers from Australia, USA, South Africa, Russia, France, Germany and Japan, will look at how ICSU should develop its lead on data and information strategy for the benefit of the whole scientific community.

The committee was set up in response to an earlier ICSU assessment exercise, which called for an ad hoc body which would advise ICSU on how best to meet its aim to "facilitate a new coordinated global approach to scientific data and information that ensures equitable access to quality data and information for research, education and informed decision-making". This is a core part of the ICSU vision of the universality of science for the benefit of society.

Professor Harris, who is also the Dean of the UCL Faculty of Social & Historical Sciences, will head the committee as it examines how various ICSU data bodies like the World Data Centres, the Federation of Astronomical & Geophysical Data Services and CODATA can better serve scientists' needs. He said: "The nature and use of scientific data and information, the conditions under which scientific data and information are produced, distributed, and managed, and the role of scientists and other actors in these processes have been changing rapidly in recent years. These changes are partly a result of the revolution in computational capability and connectivity that together have expanded the quality and quantity of research data. They are also related to the emergence of new questions in scientific research that require different types of data. Taken together, these changes are providing scientists throughout the world with more and enhanced access to research data and information. The benefits of this include the growing involvement of scientists in international research projects and increased scientific and policy interest in global scale and comparative research activities."