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A virtual research environment (VREs) or virtual laboratory is an online system helping researchers collaborate. Features usually include collaboration support (forums and wikis), document hosting, and some discipline-specific tools, such as data analysis, visualisation, or simulation management. In some instances, publication management, and teaching tools such as presentations and slides may be included. VREs have become important in fields where research is primarily carried out in teams which span institutions and even countries: the ability to easily share information and research results is valuable. The concept of the VRE was studied by UK funding agency JISC in 2010 which highlighted issues such as researcher involvement in VRE design, sustainability, and consideration of the project as primarily one of community building rather than technology. The report also noted synonyms such as "collaborative e-research community", "collaboratory" and "virtual research community". JISC funded development of a number of VREs under its "Virtual research environment programme" from 2004 to 2011. In Australia, e-Research body NeCTAR has funding for a "virtual laboratory" program to be allocated in 2011. (Excerpt from Wikipedia article: Virtual research environment)
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To VRE Or Not to VRE?: Do South African Malaria Researchers Need a Virtual Research Environment?