Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: Information systems

This research area focuses on the management, retrieval and representation of information and knowledge.

Partners involved:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The scope and what we're doing

Information Systems are approaches to managing, structuring and representing information and knowledge.

This research area includes:

  • knowledge representation and reasoning
  • information retrieval and data mining
  • ontology languages
  • the foundations of the semantic web
  • extracting knowledge and predictions from large, diverse digital data.

This strategy recognises that the information systems research area is large and varied with potential to contribute to a number of key challenges and sectors of national importance.

Our goals

A strong portfolio

A research and training portfolio that contributes to ongoing advances in data sciences. This should include the strengthening of interactions across the data science landscape. This includes co-development with areas such as databases, graphics and visualisation, human-computer interaction, and operational research.

This area should also complement the work of the Alan Turing Institute, the national centre for data science and artificial intelligence (AI), and the interaction with this area and AI technologies should be strengthened.

Research into sub-symbolic AI, including the processing and representation of data, represents a direct link between the research areas of information systems and artificial intelligence technologies. Involving information systems researchers is vital to realising the aims of our Data Enabled Decision Making priority for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme.

Strengthened links to other research areas

Strengthened links to the Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing research area and ICT Networks and Distributed Systems research area, to tackle challenges related to realising complex, open systems (for example, the Internet of Things), which will require new ways of structuring and managing information.

Increased user involvement

Further increased user involvement in this portfolio’s research. In line with our People at the Heart cross-ICT priority, we expect researchers to consider involving, throughout the research process, all users of information systems including individuals, industry, experts and non-experts, for example.

Increased consideration of security issues

Further considered security issues to ensure information systems are reliable and robust, in line with our safe and secure cross-ICT priority.

Why we're doing it

The UK delivers a substantial amount of high-quality information systems research. The leading groups in the area are considered world-leading, particularly in the semantic web, studies of the world wide web and ontologies.

The research supported in this area has clear relevance to challenges related to data science, contributing to development of novel methods to manage and represent data. These new methods allow more efficient data interrogation, visualisation or interaction further along the pipeline. The recent establishment of the Alan Turing Institute demonstrates a clear aspiration for the UK to be a leader in this area.

The National Data Strategy, published in December 2020, highlights data as the driving force of the world’s modern economies. The strategy identifies the need for better use of data that will drive growth and productivity, improve our society and public services, and position the UK as a leader of the next wave of data-driven innovation.

There is strong industrial involvement from both large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and this has more than doubled since 2016. These organisations come from a range of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing and healthcare.

This area has strong relevance to the Digital Economy theme, particularly with respect to challenges connected to realising the Internet of Things and trust, identity, privacy and security. Related to this, there are increasing links to the social and behavioural sciences through, for example, the social elements of information science. We have recently invested in a number of data research centres that will draw on people with research skills in information systems.

Information systems research underpins a number of the Healthcare Technologies theme grand challenges, and, more widely, challenges related to health informatics (such as ensuring that lay people can access and make sense of relevant data).

There is strong industrial demand for students trained to PhD level in this area and a need to balance this with the need to maintain the UK’s academic base. The research student population supported by EPSRC is well balanced between the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Centres for Doctoral Training, with a significant number of Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering studentships compared to other information and communications technologies (ICT) research areas.

View evidence sources used to inform our research strategies.

Past projects, outcomes and impact

Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships. Find out more about research area connections and funding for information systems.

Find previously funded projects on Grants on the Web.

Last updated: 21 December 2022

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