Update on Research Computing in the Social Sciences, Discovery Phase

December 18, 2009

In October Deans Smith and Kosslyn announced the creation of a new group, Research Computing for the Social Sciences (RCSS). This entity, which is being created and managed by IQSS in close collaboration with FAS IT, has been charged with improving the delivery and support of research technology in the Social Sciences. We have been hard at work over the past few months and I wanted to take a moment to update you on our progress.

Our primary focus to date has been collecting information. We’ve had detailed conversations with more than thirty representatives from the academic departments and committees. These individuals have included administrators, researchers, faculty, staff, and graduate students. Their input has given us a better understanding of both the research and general IT needs of the departments in the Social Sciences. We have more meetings scheduled for the remainder of the year and will continue to schedule more in the New Year as you help us identify additional people with whom we should meet. In January we will also begin meeting with the museums and research centers as we continue the discovery phase of this project.

Throughout this process, we and FAS IT have been meeting regularly with University Hall. We have kept them apprised of our activities and findings, and we have all collaborated to seek out new directions, areas of inquiry, and ideas.

The feedback we have received so far from the departments clearly points to unique needs as well as commonalities between many of the department. The process has also allowed us to share new details on existing products and services available to all which were not widely known. We hope to use all this information to start rolling out new and existing services to help you to continue to contribute new or improved technological solutions in many areas of administration and research.

Thank you for your time and support as we move forward with this complicated project. We will continue to send updates as we learn more. Our goal is to have a comprehensive view of the division’s needs by early spring. In the meantime, for ongoing information, see http://iq.harvard.edu/rcss, and of course please feel free to contact me (king@harvard.edu; 495-2027) or Breean Fortier (breean_fortier@harvard.edu; 496-3902) if you have any questions or suggestions.

Gary King