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Encouraging academics to use eResearch tools by tapping into the researcher mindset.

Research datasets are getting larger and more complex which increases the potential benefit of using cloud computing and high performance computing. However, many academic researchers remain unconvinced that pursuing these resources will make their lives easier. As eResearch and IT providers, there are ways we can present information about how to use these services that will engage researchers. There are also many ways that our communication strategies can inadvertently scare off potential users. Greater awareness of the researcher mindset can help overcome obstacles to establishing professional relationships.

Abstract
Research datasets are getting larger and more complex which increases the potential benefit of using cloud computing and high performance computing. However, many academic researchers remain unconvinced that pursuing these resources will make their lives easier for three main reasons:

  1. Time. Academics are often highly focused individuals whose main objective is to perform their research with as little hassle as possible in a time poor environment due to teaching, administration, and outreach. They are therefore often reluctant to invest time in learning to use new software until they are certain that it will be worthwhile in the long term.
  2. Language. Academics may be world experts in their own research field and very competent in certain complex computer-based procedures but computer language is viewed essentially as a tool for their particular research task. They lack a general knowledge and interest with respect to the language used by information technology which hinders broader communication regarding computing resources.
  3. Distrust. Academics are generally based in large institutions where streamlining services can be prioritised over solutions tailored to the needs of a project. Academics can come to view IT services as obstructive rather than providers of resources.

The challenge for eResearch providers is to use accessible language is to convince the researchers that they can provide resources that are stable, appropriate for their needs, and worth investing time into. Interactive workshops hosted by knowledgeable staff are essential. Webpages and documentation need to be streamlined and use simple plain English without being dumbed down. Knowing what a specific researcher needs requires careful engagement. This seminar will describe how improving our understanding of the researcher mindset has improved user engagement at eRSA.