Introduction to the Handbook
This Handbook (HB in the following) is intended as an introductory instrument for people who need a quick access to the main definitions and references on the major issues related to Research Infrastructures. Many of these issues are similar to those affecting Research (as distinct but strongly interacting with Development and Innovation) and have to deal with the perceived or expected socio-economic results, with the ensuing management aspects.
Research Infrastructures (RIs in the following) have, compared to Research, the additional burden of being often very expensive and visible, as well as of needing to outreach and serve researchers well beyond the “owners” and “paymasters” (“the shareholders”): this may open completely different aspects, compared to Research activities, in the expectations of and interactions with both the “shareholders” and the “stakeholders” (i.e. those individuals, communities and institutions which should feel the advantage of the existence and activity of an RI and, therefore, be the “political” base for their existence.
The Handbook will follow closely the structure of the RAMIRI2 course and start by giving, in Making the Case and Setting the Scene the essential definitions of the issues and of the “rules of the game” involving and affecting the success of RIs and of the research performed in them. It will, then, go through the Life Cycle of a RI, Legal and Governance Issues, Finance, Human Resources and RI Management.
- The content of this HB has been developed having in mind the following questions: How can we explain the advantages of RIs for science and beyond (by using numbers if possible or by using convincing narratives and examples, if numbers are not available)?
- How can we achieve the best results in developing and operating RIs (and achieve success both in fund raising, and in using the funds in the most effective way)?
- How can we reach a long term sustainability in their operation/upgrade and eventual phase-off?
- How can we manage the personal and institutional interactions within a complex environment of different and differently motivated scientists, funders, and stakeholders?
- ……while dealing successfully with something very different from “normal” economic culture?
The scope of the HB reflects the scope of the RAMIRI initiative which aims at developing a common understanding and cultural basis between RIs managers, users and policy makers at the various levels. The context in which this initiative was started is Europe and the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), but the reference frame is Global, and the know-how we want to share with the users of the Handbook has been developing in all fields of Science and over many years (in some cases, centuries). Some of the definitions (i.e. “pan-European Interest”) reflect the environment where the initiative has started, but most of these are valid and applicable at all geographical scales, from local to global, and relate to the wider need of outlining the best ways in which RIs can support the pursuit of new knowledge and be connected to the challenges facing all of us in everyday’s life.
RAMIRI stands for Realising and Managing International Research Infrastructures. The projects RAMIRI and RAMIRI 2 were funded by the European Commission under FP7, in the periods 2008-2010 (project ID: 226446) and 2010-2013 (project ID: 262567). The RAMIRI projects delivered a training and networking programme for people involved in planning and managing international research infrastructures within the European Union (and Associated States).