Research Infrastructures

Group of Senior Officials (GSO) on global Research Infrastructures

The Group of Senior Officials (GSO) was established to informally explore cooperation opportunities in Global Research Infrastructures (GRIs).

The group was set up to:

  • identify Research Infrastructures of global interest
  • analyse how countries evaluate and prioritise the construction of large scale Research Infrastructures
  • identify possible new areas of cooperation
  • promote transnational access to Global Research Infrastructures
  • foster “distributed infrastructures”
  • identify measures to ensure that scientific data is appropriately handled, stored and accessed
  • adopt a common understanding for the joint lifecycle management of global research infrastructures


Achievements of the Group of Senior Officials

In its first years of work, the GSO developed a framework that identified a set of key principles to be addressed when presenting a Research Infrastructure as a candidate for international partnership.

This framework was approved by the G7 in 2013, along with a white paper on data which contained five principles for an Open Data Infrastructure as well as for effective research data management.

One of the major milestones was the establishment of an exemplificative list of Global Research Infrastructures that is regularly updated and has set the basis for further activities conducted by the GSO.


Activities of the Group of Senior Officials

The GSO's current focus is twofold:

  • sharing good practices in specific policy areas
  • identifying internationalisation opportunities in the context of the framework agreed at the 2013 G7 meeting

Specifically the GSO is:

  • promoting the concept that access to GRIs should be established on the basis of merit analysis through a peer review process
  • exploring how GRIs drive innovation
  • continuing to investigate the role of GRIs in sharing and managing scientific data, especially by reinforcing engagement with community-based activities such as the Research Data Alliance
  • refining and updating the GSO Framework, based on the results of the policy area analysis
  • identifying good practices for the establishment and development of future GRIs
  • exploring the potential for existing Research Infrastructures to be opened up to international partners
  • analysing five case studies which represent different types of GRI, and verifying their level of maturity for engaging in a roadmap towards an implementation of a structured collaboration at the international level


Group of Senior Officials progress report

The GSO has produced a new progress report to be presented to the September 2017 G7 Science Ministers’ meeting in Italy.

The main issues addressed in the document are:

  • the outcomes of the work on establishing an international principle for excellence-based access to GRIs
  • the results of the case studies which, in two cases (Underground labs and the International Mouse Phenotyping Consortium - IMPC), are considered sufficiently mature to step up to an enhanced phase of development


How the Group of Senior Officials is organised

The GSO is composed of representatives from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Commission, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, UK and USA.

The European Commission also manages its executive secretariat. Meetings are held, on average every 6 to 8 months with the hosting country taking up the chairmanship of the Group until the following event.

History of the Group of Senior Officials

The potential for increased international cooperation on GRIs has for a long time been recognised during international high-level meetings on science policy.

At the first G8 Science Ministers' meeting, held in Okinawa on 15 June 2008, it was decided to establish a Group of Senior Officials on global research infrastructures that would take stock of the existing situation and explore new collaboration opportunities. The GSO has been active since 2011.