Virtual Research Environment – VRE

Research Support

Research has become more and more interdisciplinary and goes beyond the boundaries of one’s institute.

A lot of supporting freeware tools are available to facilitate these developments in ways of communication and sharing information. Well known examples are Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Scholar, but also platforms specifically targeted at researchers, ResearchGate and Mendeley.

The University Library offers a dedicated collaboration tool, that not only facilitates communication and information sharing but explicitly offers the possibility to work together: the Virtual Research Environment.

Why collaboration support

Most academic institutions encourage inter- and intra-institute and industry research collaboration. Experience shows several discussions and iterations during the research process, especially during drafting stage before the final paper is mutually agreed and submitted. To ease this process, when working together on an academic research project, as a participant you can benefit from using collaborative software or tools to produce their papers.

The University Library offers the Microsoft SharePoint Virtual Research Environment as a collaborative platform, not only for project communication but also to facilitate the production of joint research papers.

What is a VRE

A Virtual Research Environment or shortly VRE is an online tool for researchers to facilitate sharing and collaboration. The VRE has a secured place on a UM server, so collaboration takes place in a secure environment. Due to cloud technology (with secure storage of the content information of the VRE), the VRE is anytime and anyplace accessible and is fully integrated with Microsoft and reference tools as EndNote.

A VRE provides a secured and integrated online environment with access to shared documents and resources needed in the course of a research project. Multiple collaborators from different institutions and locations can edit shared documents within a VRE. VRE’s facilitate online communication and sharing sources of information with integrated tools like wikis, blogs, shared calendars and discussion forums.

The main functions included in the VRE are:

  • project webportal: create your own window for peers or anyone interested
  • projectmanagement and –planning
  • storing and sharing documents/data: all possible formats of Microsoft documents but also PDF, statistical data files, video formats
  • shared writing: writing simultaneously in the same document
  • document workflow and version management
  • tasklist / agenda / calendar
  • discussion pages / weblog
  • shared links
  • project portfolios
How to start a VRE for your project or research group

The first step in building your VRE is filling out an application form. Our VRE-specialist can help you and will schedule a meeting, to help you develop a plan to build a VRE that meets your needs, and to develop a Statement of Work (with timelines, planned features, etc.).

The library also supports your group after the VRE is built, by providing training and upgrading for your VRE as part of the programme’s regular maintenance on all VREs.


  • For more information on collaboration tools in general: please contact Gregor Franssen (85046), information specialist.
  • Do you have questions about the VRE, please contact Erik Jansen (82615), ICT tooling expert.


Testimonial about collaboration

Testimonial about the ease of use

Testimonial about secure environment


Contact & Support

For questions or information, use the web form to contact a library specialist.


Ask Your Librarian - Contact Gregor or Erik

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