Information systems

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; and 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.

By the end of the current Delivery Plan, our goal is to have:

  • 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 AI; and the interaction with this area and Artificial Intelligence 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 EPSRC’s Data Enabled Decision Making priority for the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) theme.
  • Strengthened links to the Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and ICT Networks and Distributed Systems research areas, to tackle challenges related to realising complex, open systems (e.g. the Internet of Things), which will require new ways of structuring and managing information.
  • Further increased user involvement in this portfolio's research. In line with EPSRC's 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.
  • Further considered security issues to ensure Information Systems are reliable and robust, in line with our Safe and Secure cross-ICT priority.

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. (Evidence source 1)

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 and so allowing more efficient data interrogation, visualisation or interaction further along the pipeline. (Evidence source 2) The recent establishment of the Alan Turing Institute demonstrates a clear aspiration for the UK to be a leader in this area. (Evidence source 3)

The Industrial Strategy White Paper, published in November 2017 identified the AI and Data driven economy as one of its four grand challenges. We anticipate this will increase the demands on ensuring data is well managed and fit for use. 

There is strong industrial involvement from both large companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and this has more than doubled over the course of the last Delivery Plan period. (Evidence source 4) These organisations come from a range of sectors, including financial services, manufacturing and healthcare.

Over the last Delivery Plan, this area has demonstrated strong relevance to the remit of the Digital Economy Theme. (Evidence source 4) This will continue to be a key link, particularly with respect to challenges connected to realising the Internet of Things and Trust, Identity, Privacy and Security (TIPS). Related to this, there are increasing links to the social and behavioural sciences through, for example, the social elements of information science. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has 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 Grand Challenges, (Evidence source 5) and, more widely, challenges related to health informatics (e.g. ensuring that lay people can access and make sense of relevant data).

There is big industrial demand for PhD-trained students in this area and a need to balance this with the need to maintain the UK’s academic base. The EPSRC-supported research student population is well-balanced between the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs), with a significant number of Industrial Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships compared to other ICT research areas. (Evidence source 4)

This research area will contribute to all Outcomes and especially to the Connected, Healthy and Productive Nation over a shorter timeframe. The following Ambitions are particularly relevant:

C1: Enable a competitive, data-driven economy

This research area can deliver innovation in the way information is structured and managed.

C2: Achieve transformational development and use of the Internet of Things

Innovations in Information Systems will be needed to enable effective collection and use of connected data.

H3: Optimise diagnosis and treatment

This area will need to contribute new ways of managing multi-modal, multi-scale clinical data for analysis and feedback.

P4: Drive business innovation through digital transformation

Information Systems will contribute to maximising the impact of data and information on business models and service delivery.

  1. Community engagement (individual input, group feedback and team visits) and input from the ICT Strategic Advisory Team, UK Computing Research Council Executive Committee and Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 panellists (sub-panel 11).
  2. EPSRC, ICT Perspectives on Big Data Analytics: Workshop (PDF), (2015).
  3. The Alan Turing Institute, Shaping Our Strategy (PDF), (2016).
  4. Analysis of EPSRC application and student data.
  5. EPSRC, Healthcare Technologies Grand Challenges Report (PDF), (2014).

Research area connections

This diagram shows the top 10 connections between Research Areas within the EPSRC research portfolio. The depth of the segment relates to value of grants and the width of the segment relates to the number of grants shared by those two Research Areas. Please click to see the related Research Area rationale.

Visualising our Portfolio (VoP)
Visualising our portfolio (VoP) is a tool for users to visually interact with the EPSRC portfolio and data relationships.

EPSRC support by research area in Information systems (GoW)
Search EPSRC's research and training grants.

Contact Details

In the following table, contact information relevant to the page. The first column is for visual reference only. Data is in the right column.

Name: Liam Boyle
Job title: Portfolio Manager
Organisation: EPSRC
Telephone: 01793 444364