The University of Southampton

A VRE to support cross-disciplinary and crossinstitutional collaboration in internet-based behavioural research (IBBRE)

Virtual Communities and Social Systems, Web Science

This project will employ a VRE to enable behavioural scientists working within a variety of disciplines across the university to collaborate in sharing and reviewing components of internet-delivered interventions. We will analyse and describe how the VRE can be flexibly used to support collaborations within and outside the university. Behavioural interventions (BIs) – packages of advice and support for behaviour change – are arguably the most important methodology and technology employed by behavioural scientists for understanding and changing behaviour. Internet-Based BIs (IBBIs) are beginning to play a crucial role in the delivery of BIs. If IBBIs could be viewed and shared within a VRE this would allow wider research communities to greatly speed up the research cycle of producing intervention components and testing them using large, pooled datasets. We have confirmed that there is enthusiasm to collaborate in developing IBBIs; we are already collaborating with UCL on this project and after holding several workshops have developed a large network of potential collaborators from other universities from within the UK, Europe, and the USA. The challenge to the university is how best to support resource sharing, critical analysis, publishing, and peer review of IBBIs within these inter-disciplinary research groups and networks. The behavioural scientists want to be able to collaborate on the building of the IBBI, discuss the IBBI (peer review), securely make available the results of the IBBI to other behavioural scientists, allow others to use this anonymised data in meta-studies, and inform others of what worked or did not. In this project we intend to build on the JISC VRE funded projects ‘CORE’ and ‘myExperiment’. The target wider community nationally and internationally is represented by the e-social science, behavioural science, and VRE communities. The impact of this project will be in two main areas: the technology, and the user communities. Technology-wise the baseline comprises the CORE and myExperiment projects; we will be combining the experiences and technologies of these previous existing VRE projects. By completing this work we intend to extend this knowledge from the medical and science domains and apply it to the behavioural science domain.

Primary investigators


  • Prof Lucy Yardley (Psychology, UoS)

Associated research groups

  • Learning Societies Lab
  • Intelligence, Agents, Multimedia Group
  • Electronic and Software Systems
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