Innovation Support Centre » ISC News 2013-07-26T16:25:35Z WordPress Copyright © Innovation Support Centre 2012 Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Closure of this Web Site]]> 2013-07-26T16:25:35Z 2013-07-26T16:25:35Z Following the cessation of JISC’s core funding to UKOLN the ISC Web site has been closed. An archive of the Web site has been created which can be accessed via the UK Web Archive.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[euroCRIS Spring 2013 Membership Meeting in Bonn]]> 2013-05-21T23:06:34Z 2013-05-17T00:57:26Z SONY DSC

Just back from the euroCRIS Spring 2013 membership meeting which was held in Bonn this week, 13-14 May at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). As well as being one of the main research funders in Germany, DFG is also one of the main providers of research information at a national level. There has been a recent upsurge in CERIF-related activity in Germany, as related in the many interesting national presentations. These included a significant initiative to develop a ‘Core Data Set’ for research activities in Germany. Leuphana University reported on use cases to reduce workload but also increase the quality of research reporting (since quality is valued most). Developments in Italy include a CERIF compliant open source CRIS in DSpace (as part of SURplus) at CINECA (with Hong Kong University as a partner). I presented a work in progress report on my current study for JISC addressing the use of CERIF CRIS in the UK.

The draft OpenAIRE guidelines for CRIS interoperation based on CERIF XML were announced. euroCRIS is a partner in several EU projects including OpenAIRE and the new PASTEUR40A project on OA and open data. Other euroCRIS news included the development of a CRIS ‘Reference system’ with data export in CERIF XML plus compliance testing. euroCRIS is also working on mapping CASRAI data profiles to CERIF; the CASRAI approach is bottom up and CASRAI top down, so the two complement each other. In closing the meeting, Ed Simons, the new euroCRIS president suggested that euroCRIS work has previously focused more on technical development of the CERIF model and implementation, whereas it’s now relevant to spend more time addressing business needs.

Story image

euroCRIS participants congregate for the official group photo at DFG
(photos by Pablo de Castro and Barbara Ebert)

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[CERIF UK coordination meeting]]> 2013-03-08T18:23:56Z 2013-03-08T18:19:35Z Brigitte Jörg, the CERIF National Coordinator at UKOLN organised a meeting last week to identify priorities for a UK CERIF roadmap building on current and ongoing activities. Brigitte’s blog includes a very useful slide of the current CERIF UK landscape – outputs from key initiatives were presented and discussed.

There is an ongoing need for alignment: given the requirements of different projects, and that CERIF can be interpreted in different ways, there are inevitable slight variations in mappings eg between CERIF in Action (CIA) and Gateway to Research. The need for collaborative working arose several times – the CIA project has experienced the advantages of institutions, funders and vendors working closely together. Stability is also a key requirement for successful software development (REF was cited as an excellent example of stability, with very few revisions); however research information management has been changing very rapidly recently, with many additional system requirements coming at one time. As ever, the issue of data quality came up, this time in discussion of GtR handling of many layers of data.

There are key UK sustainability issues to address, in the context of Jisc funding for RIM and CERIF coordination and support at UKOLN ending in June/July 2013. euroCRIS and CASRAI are potential homes for outputs, but investment is needed to support ongoing coordination effort.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[Pure UK user group meeting in Birmingham]]> 2013-02-06T13:01:48Z 2013-02-06T12:05:17Z Last Friday (1 Feb) I participated as an observer in the second day of the Pure UK user group meeting in Birmingham (by kind permission of the outgoing Chair, Anna Clements). I’m planning an update to the Adoption of CERIF in Higher Education Institutions in the UK study and thought it would be a good opportunity to catch up with some key people, which it was. It was interesting (although perhaps not surprising) that CERIF hardly got a mention, apart from by Anna (which appeared to be the norm!). CERIF is assumed as an underlying standard, but research managers have more important issues to engage with – such as REF…

Given the number of Pure users in the UK (21), it’s now a large group, with several working groups taking forward key issues outside meetings. Two members of staff from Atira participated – there was an good working atmosphere reflecting the positive relationships with Atira which institutions had previously reported.

Working groups reported on:

  • OA and repositories – including connectors for Scopus/WoS, APCs, work on OA metadata in CERIF (and with CASRAI)
  • data sets – minimal metadata as short term goal, with broader aims in long term; data sets are next big thing after REF!
  • student data – most institutions don’t allow students to update their own profile in the CRIS (because of the resource requirement)
  • activity data – work on UI, parallel CASRAI work
  • web services – as another interface to institutional data


Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[Managing ethics review information: RMAS-EE project]]> 2013-02-05T19:05:33Z 2013-02-05T18:32:57Z Ethical approval is needed for most research work before it can be carried out although processes and requirements tend to differ across disciplines, funders and institutions. Many institutions use standalone systems to manage the approval process, with potential for duplication of effort, while Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) provide varying levels of support for ethical review information.

  • The CONVERIS CRIS does already support ethics review and is being used for this purpose by UK user institutions. However functionality is currently limited compared to what is being developed – Avedas are working with CASRAI (as described below) at the same time as reviewing institutional requirements in order to develop configurable forms, workflows and user rights for CONVERIS (systems programming changes are not anticipated). The CONVERIS specification will be aligned with CASRAI work.
  • Although Symplectic Elements could currently support the capture of ethics review information such as an ethics status flag, institutional users have not yet expressed this requirement; it is thought that most Symplectic users currently capture ethics information either offline or in pre-award/clinical trial systems.
  • Likewise Atira report that Pure users have not requested support for ethics review, so it is not currently provided within Pure (apart from a flag to remind staff to initiate ethics review) and there are no plans to change this for the moment.

Therefore while one of the drivers for the Research Management and Administration System – Ethics Extension (RMAS-EE) work was the need to raise awareness of the role that ethical review plays in research projects, another was to reduce administrative overheads. It was funded by the Jisc research information management (RIM) programme as a rapid innovation project, starting in July 2012 and finishing in December 2012.

As its name indicates, the project extends the work of the earlier RMAS project which developed a Procurement Framework to enable universities to purchase individual research management system modules using a simplified and much-shortened procurement process. It also developed tools and guidelines to help institutions integrate new modules with existing research systems and corporate systems. RMAS uses CERIF for the representation of data and worked with euroCRIS to extend the CERIF vocabulary to meet UK requirements. An Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) facilitates the exchange of messages (encapsulated in CERIF) between different research management applications.

The RMAS-EE project was based at the University of Kent, one of the three RMAS ‘pathfinder’ institutions. However the blog points out that the project team at Kent was not involved in the original RMAS project and was therefore dependent on RMAS documentation to understand the applications. The project consequently provided a useful case study for RMAS as a side product.

Prototyping the integration of the ethical review of research proposals into the RMAS framework was the central aim of RMAS-EE. Additional aims as indicated included informing the CERIF data standard so that it is better able to describe ethical review information.

The existing OpenEthics software was adopted to manage the ethics review process. The project planned to use the RMAS Supplier Agnostic Connector (which is based on a commercial product) between OpenEthics and RMAS to translate to and from CERIF. However investigation revealed that expected specifications were missing (for the proposal-created message in particular) so it was decided to use the project team’s expertise in Python to write the required software instead. Another issue encountered was synchronising users across RMAS and the OpenEthics system. A mapping solution was developed for the project, but this will be a problem that any other integration work will also need to address.

The original plan was to contribute to the CASRAI data dictionary as well as the CERIF standard; while this proved to be unnecessary to meet immediate project needs, the University of Kent is continuing to work with CASRAI on the structure of an ethical review application, which would allow interoperability of different systems for managing ethical review. Agreeing the status definitions (whether a project has been approved or not) will be the first step. The project participated in the inaugural CASRAI UK chapter meeting in December 2012. Avedas (developers of CONVERIS) are also part of the CASRAI UK Ethics Review working group.

One of the project’s conclusions was that ‘ RMAS as a concept works brilliantly’. However the team has expressed several concerns about the broader RMAS environment. Firstly the lack of RMAS event specification and a production ready ESB means that integrating with RMAS is very difficult (it was acknowledged that only the team’s strong technical capabilities made this possible). Secondly, there is no evidence of an RMAS user community – when the project proposed a specification for discussion, there was no response. As a result it was not possible for the project to test the claim that integrating research ethics into RMAS allows enhanced reporting of ethical review data in the broader research information context, because there were no other systems to integrate with via RMAS.

The project has been useful in initiating further activity relating to ethics review in the international standards communities, specifically euroCRIS and CASRAI. It is less clear if awareness has been raised in the wider UK research information management communities (a diverse group). A key output of the project is the proposal to euroCRIS for including ethical review Status in the CERIF vocabulary. The terms are currently under consideration by the CERIF Task Group. As well as software outputs, the project has also made a lot of technical documentation available via the blog which could be useful for future RMAS integration work.


Emma Tonkin <![CDATA[Text mining: a survey]]> 2013-01-10T13:40:40Z 2013-01-08T11:37:38Z Recent JISC-funded horizon-scanning work has included a workshop at OR-2012 and an associated book, currently under development, to be published by Chandos. We are now also running a survey on text mining.

As part of this work, we felt that it was important for us to talk to those engaged in text mining work both in the UK and internationally. This survey is intended to elicit a little information about the practices and challenges associated with text mining.

Important points to bear in mind:

  • Your input will be treated anonymously and your personal details will not be stored unless you ask us to do otherwise.
  • If you feel that you have more to say than the limited scope of this survey, then why not contact us directly? We would love to hear from you – and there are still opportunities to contribute to relevant chapters of the book.
  • If you think you know someone who should be involved, we’d be very grateful if you could pass this on to them.

We expect to publish the results in open-access form once the survey is complete.


lisrw <![CDATA[New TechWatch Report: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education]]> 2012-12-20T11:52:51Z 2012-12-20T11:38:22Z JISC Observatory has published the final version of a report written for Higher and Further Education institutions entitled Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education.

This report provides an overview of ebook technologies currently adopted within institutions as they respond to the increasing growth in ebook reading in wider society as well as within academic contexts. It emphasises in its opening observations the importance of understanding how the adoption of ebooks should not be regarded as working towards the replacement of printed books, but rather as a means of providing a more diverse range of reading opportunities for students.  Its recommendations will be of interest to Higher and Further Education institutions as they plan for the changes in provision to students that will be driven by the increasingly rapid evolution of ebook technologies.

Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of Ebooks in Education examines the historical development and present context of ebooks, reviews the basics of ebooks technology and usage, considers scenarios for ebook adoption and usage in the Higher and Further Education context, addresses the challenges that are currently facing institutions and considers the future.

Production editing and project management of this report have been provided by the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[Snowball Metrics: vision for research information management in the UK]]> 2012-12-20T00:59:33Z 2012-12-20T00:59:33Z The Snowball Metrics initiative held three workshops in different parts of the UK last week, addressing the ‘vision and challenges for research information management in the UK’. Prior to the workshops, participants were asked to identify firstly what they felt would make a significant difference to research information management in the UK today, and secondly, what is the biggest challenge that stands in the way of achieving this vision. Discussion topics included the following:

  • Interoperable data rather than integrated systems
  • Agreed business processes are needed as well as the data
  • Understanding the business need for collecting research information (institutions often collect more information than required)
  • Data quality versus quantity
  • Tensions surrounding research data use in allocating funding
  • Trust in how data may be used by other organisations
  • Identifying benefits of standardised research information/ metrics for researchers (eg discovering opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration in a large institution)
  • Persistent identifiers – eg person IDs (ORCID etc)
  • Managing definitions and vocabularies (eg agreeing definitions was the biggest challenge for the Gateway to Research)
  • CASRAI data dictionary (UK edition planned)
  • Strategic leadership in UK – BIS? (need to ensure realisation of efficiency benefits across the communities)
  • More coherence across RIM initiatives needed?
  • International perspective – eg Snowball global aims, CASRAI

A report based on input and workshop discussions is planned, to be shared with the wider community.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[REDIC project – contributing to improved information about research equipment in the UK]]> 2012-12-19T11:46:36Z 2012-12-18T13:35:59Z The JISC-funded REDIC (Research Equipment Database in CERIF) project has recently been completed and deliverables are becoming available to the community. It sits alongside several other initiatives addressing the lack of available information about research equipment. Most universities own large quantities of expensive research equipment  which can include individual items costing millions of pounds. There is no national database of equipment/facility data and moreover, desk research carried out by REDIC suggests that most universities do not maintain their own internal registers of equipment. The current initiatives tackling different parts of the problem are partly in response to the Research Council 2011 changes in how equipment is funded on grants; the aim is to gain the best possible value from existing capital investments (includes procurement efficiencies as well as promoting the sharing of equipment across institutions). In addition to REDIC, UK initiatives include:

  • The JISC-funded Kit Catalogue Project carried out during 2011 at Loughborough University delivered an open-source system available for any HEI to catalogue and share information about their research equipment. The catalogue implemented at Loughborough is publicly available
  • The University of Leeds together with its partners within the N8 consortium has developed and implemented a common taxonomy to categorise medium and large-scale research equipment
  • Funded by EPSRC, the Uniquip project aims to deliver a set of standards for cataloguing and publishing information about research facilities and equipment; partners are the Universities of Southampton, Leeds, Loughborough and Bath
  • The University of Bath has also integrated its existing >£10k asset register into Pure (allowing linking of equipment to other information such as outputs)
  • CASRAI UK is likely to take forward work on an authoritative list for equipment/facility.

REDIC is a JISC-funded rapid innovation project which ran from June to November 2012. Managed by the University of Edinburgh Digital Library, development was carried out by EDINA. The project has built a CERIF-compliant prototype system and infrastructure to support an authoritative registry of information about research equipment and facilities, intended for use by researchers. Making the prototype available in the CERIF format enables incorporation or referencing in local Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) or institutional repositories.

The prototype model is shown below.  SWORD is used as the deposit mechanism and DSpace as the record store. The use of Sword was a challenge initially because SwordV2 did not interface with DSpace in the way the project required. However this was fed back into the DSpace/Sword communities for discussion and resolution.

The core dataset used was recommended by the Uniquip project and acquired from Southampton via the site. Other datasets (such as the N8 taxonomy) can be added as required by adjusting the ingester. DSpace provides a facility to convert data to CERIF-XML. However some required data elements could not be mapped to CERIF – REDIC has therefore worked with Brigitte Jörg from the CERIF Support Project at UKOLN and initiatives at other UK institutions to suggest additional CERIF entities to be considered by the CERIF Task Group. CERIF 1.3 (in February 2012) previously included improvements to the equipment and facility entities.

The equipment and facilities contained within the register are each assigned a persistent identifier  (via the Handle System, as used by DSpace). The CERIF data model allows the linking of equipment to other information, such as people, projects and outputs (including research data) produced as a result of using the equipment; impact of use (and sharing) can therefore be captured.

REDIC has succeeded in bringing the concept of equipment/facility into the ‘information mix’ as an instrument of research. Together with the other equipment initiatives, REDIC is supporting steps towards the cultural change needed to achieve wider implementation and realise the benefits.

lisrw <![CDATA[Ariadne Issue 70 Now Available]]> 2012-12-17T17:21:27Z 2012-12-17T17:21:27Z Colleagues in the Innovation Support Centre have contributed articles to the recently published Issue 70 of Ariadne. Brian Kelly with co-authors Dominik Lukeš and Alistair McNaught highlight the risks of attempting to standardise easy-to-read language for online resources for the benefit of readers with disabilities. Far from rejecting the intentions of the W3C/WAI Research and Development Working Group (RDWG), in ‘Does He Take Sugar?’: The Risks of Standardising Easy-to-read Language, the authors seek to explain the complexities involved in expressing and understanding language and why a one-size-fits-all approach may not be the only solution. Instead they point to the importance of contextualisation and other elements which they consider will in the long run work more effectively.

In addition we are pleased to provide a further article on the subject of CERIF following the appearance of JISC Research Information Management: CERIF Workshop in Issue 69. We are indebted once again to Rosemary Russell who, together with the CERIF Support Project National Co-ordinator based at the Innovation Support Centre, Brigitte Jörg, reports on the bi-annual euroCRIS membership and Task Groups meetings which took place in Madrid on 5-6 November 2012. The report covers the range of meetings and activities arranged for those days including sessions from national groups, a CERIF tutorial and a session on identifiers.

The new issue has as usual a wide range of feature articles, events and book reviews and we hope that Ariadne’s policy of publishing on a wide range of topics will ensure that there is something there to interest as many of its readers as possible. We hope you will enjoy Ariadne  Issue 70.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[CASRAI UK ‘chapter’ meeting]]> 2012-12-14T17:51:05Z 2012-12-14T01:23:46Z The inaugural meeting of the ‘UK chapter’ (terminology may change!) of CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information) took place on 10 December in London, convened by CASRAI and JISC. CASRAI collectively develops and maintains a data dictionary for terms used in research information management, in order to ensure that terminology is used consistently across the stakeholder communities and data can therefore be easily exchanged. It also promotes best practice for data exchange and reuse. CASRAI is an international organisation which has grown out of a base in Canada – research isn’t confined to national boundaries.  Strategic partners include JISC, euroCRIS and VIVO.

So the idea is to develop a UK edition of the CASRAI dictionary, which will build on the existing dictionary to include additional lists required by UK research organisations. Some of these may be unique to UK needs but others could be adopted more widely in time. There will therefore be a common core dictionary, with extra layers to meet national needs. Some requirements will also be discipline-specific. The main aim of the meeting was to decide priority areas for the UK, working towards a first release of a UK edition in June 2013. This is an ambitious timescale but work is not starting from scratch – the aim is always to reuse existing terminology work where possible. CASRAI standards are all about harmonisation rather than uniformity or a lowest common denominator approach, which often has limited success.

The CASRAI dictionary is also a very good fit with the CERIF data model, since it provides the missing business agreements which are not covered by CERIF. Some initial work on ‘CERIFying’ the dictionary has already been carried out. However a variety of storage models are possible (eg CERIF, VIVO, LATTES, proprietary) and likewise exchange models (eg CERIF-XML, VIVO-RDF).

A number of priority areas for the UK were identified and scoped during the meeting with the managers of current UK initiatives addressing those areas. The key topics discussed were:

  • Research ethics review: definitions for content of messages indicating ethics application status (the Research Management and Administration System Ethics Extension (RMAS-EE) project funded by JISC will provide key input) – a full ethics review profile would require a lot more effort
  • Data management plans: the DMP Online tool developed by DCC will be a key content resource (work carried out by the CERIF for Datasets project is also relevant; the Research Councils are key stakeholders here)
  • ‘Authoritative lists’
    • Facilities and equipment – the taxonomy developed by the N8 Consortium is being used by others included the Uniquip project
    • Institutions – HESA is the authoritative source for UK institutions but is there a requirement for a consolidated international list?
    • Person names

Profiles for research outcomes and impact were raised as potential UK requirements although this needs further scoping because of time constraints. Open access issues were also highlighted. Some further prioritisation will be needed to ensure an achievable workplan.

The UK CASRAI initiative working alongside the common global harmonisation effort and using the CERIF data model, offers an exciting opportunity to improve the interoperability of research information management systems internationally.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[“Top 10 Tips on How to Make Your Open Access Research Visible Online” Published in Jisc Inform]]> 2012-12-12T14:46:16Z 2012-12-12T14:44:11Z The Jisc Inform Newsletter (issue 35, December 2012) features an article by Brian Kelly on Top 10 tips on how to make your open access research visible online.

The article is based on a blog post originally published on the Networked Researcher blog which was tweaked slightly and republished on the Jisc blog. The version published in the Jisc Inform newsletter includes a series of images to accompany each of the ten tips.

The tips were originally developed to accompany a series of presentations given at the universities of Exeter, Salford and Bath during Open Access Week. These presentations were based on the experiences gained in use of social media to help maximise access to peer-reviewed publications. In particular the tips documented the experiences of use of social media services such as blogs, Twitter and Slideshare  to help maximise the readership of a paper entitled “A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First“.

As a reminder, here are the ten tips:

  1. Be pro-active
  2. Monitor what works
  3. Make it easy for readers
  4. Don’t forget the links
  5. Encourage feedback and discussion
  6. Develop your network
  7. Understand your social media network
  8. Know your limits in the social media environment
  9. Seek improvements
  10. Participate!

The article expands on these tips slightly, but doesn’t address the limitations which will be inevitable when seeking to provide advice in the form of ‘top tips’. However the tips are themselves extensible and, as described in tips 6, 7 and 8 you will need to Understand your social media network; Know your limits in the social media environment and Seek improvements.


Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[euroCRIS membership meeting in Madrid]]> 2012-11-08T23:59:47Z 2012-11-08T23:59:47Z Just returned from the euroCRIS membership meeting in Madrid, the largest to date, with around 80 participants. euroCRIS  is showing a steady growth in membership, at around 15% per year. It was particularly interesting that the takeup of CERIF in the UK in the last few years was acknowledged as an important strategic breakthrough for the standard. In addition, the JISC Research Information Management Programme was cited as an example to follow! JISC funding of a number of small UK-based projects has been seen to have had a big impact.

An Ariadne article on the meeting is in the pipeline, so some selective points of interest follow here in the meantime:

  • A new euroCRIS board has just been elected (now with 50% women members)
  • CRIS 2012  in Prague this year was also the largest euroCRIS conference to date – interest in CERIF CRIS is growing at many levels
  • euroCRIS is continuing to grow its strategic partnerships – an agreement with COAR (Confederation of Open Access Repositories) was signed during the meeting
  • CERIF 1.5 has been released – a major upgrade this time
  • The Linked Open Data Task Group has carried out a mapping of VIVO and CERIF  (a potential use case is performing analytics on VIVO and CERIF data)
  • A new Task Group on impact indicators was introduced at the meeting
  • The Snowball Metrics ‘Recipe Book’ was distributed – designed to facilitate cross-institutional benchmarking (and will be CERIF compliant)
  • Despite a lot of interesting CRIS activity in Spain, no Spanish CRIS are currently CERIF compliant – although there may be scope for alignment of CVN (a national system for exchanging standardised CV information) and CERIF; however this is not straightforward, since CVN is researcher-based. There is a wide range of CRIS in use, unlike in the Netherlands (where METIS is used by everyone) and the UK (three systems) which makes coordination more complicated. Spain has the same issues as other countries with person IDs.
  • Three Italian research organisations have recently merged into CINECA. Planning to implement CERIF using open source software is already underway, which will bring 100 Italian research institutions into euroCRIS
  • A session on identifiers covered current work by the CERIF Task Group to incorporate federated identifiers into the CERIF model, effectively opening up closed internal systems to the outside world; ORCID could be one of the person IDs assigned
  • A Directory of Research Information systems (DRIS) is being developed; the system is currently being populated by euroCRIS members in a trial phase, before being opened to the wider public to input their CRIS details.  The DRIS could in future act as the basis for a portal to access heterogeneous CRIS

With the new euroCRIS board in place from January 2013, there are likely to be some changes afoot next year. Presentations from Madrid should be available shortly on the euroCRIS website.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[OpenAIREplus and CERIF]]> 2012-10-31T22:04:06Z 2012-10-31T22:04:06Z The second OpenAIRE conference will be held at Göttingen State and University Library, 21-22 November 2012. As well as presenting results from the OpenAIRE project the programme will also ‘give insight into the OpenAIREplus project, which will link publications to research data, enabling seamless access to scientific knowledge’. euroCRIS is working with OpenAIREplus (via the Greek National Documentation Centre, EKT-NHRF) to align the OpenAIREplus data model with CERIF in areas where there is conceptual overlap. OpenAIREplus will support import and export of data to CERIF XML so that information in CRISs can be ingested into the OpenAIRE portal and CRISs can also use OpenAIREplus data in other applications. CERIF is able to represent the OpenAIREplus concept of ‘enhanced publications’, since it captures semantic relationships between multiple objects using ‘link entities’ (which include a temporal and role-based structure). Each component of an enhanced publication represented in CERIF can be assigned a unique ID.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[CERIF in Action workshop]]> 2012-10-24T15:38:30Z 2012-10-24T15:38:30Z UK higher education interest in CERIF continues unabated as demonstrated by the numbers registering for the CERIF In Action (CIA) workshop held in London last Friday. The event was moved to a larger venue given the level of interest, and even then we almost ran out of chairs. Participants were mainly from university research systems/support offices and libraries, with others from the Research Councils and Current Research Information System (CRIS) vendors.

CIA Wordle

The CERIF in Action project forms part of the JISC Research Information Management programme third phase (RIM3). This phase has focused on business to business information exchanges between live systems. CIA has therefore developed a standard CERIF-XML schema and built plug-ins to import and export data in this format for CRIS, repository and Research Council software. Two business processes were chosen: exchanging data between partner institutions (eg when an researcher moves to a new institution) and uploading grant-level information to the RCUK Research Outputs System (ROS).

At the workshop institutional project partners successfully demonstrated the use of these plug-ins with their live systems: the University of Cambridge demonstrated the uploading of publications data to ROS via their Symplectic plug-in and the EPrints plug-in was shown in action by the University of Glasgow.

Dale Heenan revealed huge predicted savings in reporting cost per RC grant per year from using CERIF eg from the highest cost of £15.40 for manual single reporting to £0.50 using CERIF bulk reporting. Further detail on these figures would be useful.

It was interesting that the content of the workshop amply illustrated that leadership in implementing and embedding CERIF in UK research information infrastructures is now coming from RCUK and HEFCE – this was identified as critical in Stuart Bolton’s business case report back in 2010. RCUK indicated that they are using the valuable work produced by JISC programmes and putting it into production systems. Testing of the Gateway to Research within the Research Councils also starts this week.

lisrw <![CDATA[TechWatch Report on eBooks in Education: Call for Comments]]> 2012-09-28T15:35:17Z 2012-09-28T14:12:14Z JISC Observatory has released a preview version of a forthcoming TechWatch report: Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education. Comments are welcome on this report to help shape its coverage and guidance to Higher and Further Education sectors. The feedback period is open from 27 September to 8 October 2012.

While ebooks can justifiably be described as mainstream in the consumer realm, this report considers their enormous potential to Further and Higher Education institutions over the next five years. Specifically, this report: 1) introduces the historical and present context of ebooks; 2) reviews the basics of ebooks; 3) considers scenarios for ebook adoption and usage; 4) addresses current challenges; and 5) considers the future.

Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education updates previous research on the usage and adoption of ebooks within academic institutions, examining recent developments. Many institutions, conscious of the uptake by their students and staff of ebook technologies, are considering how to adopt ebooks and organise their support more effectively in a number of contexts.

This report provides an overview of many ebook technologies currently adopted within Higher and Further Education institutions as they start to embed the use of ebooks. It also takes into account various consumer ebook technologies that have developed rapidly over the last few years, as these consumer technologies have increased demand for ebooks within academic contexts by learners. The report also examines: how ebooks are being adopted within academic libraries; how ebooks are being used for learning and teaching; how ebooks have practical impacts on a broad range of areas, including scholarly publication. In so doing, it also addresses key technical and cultural issues likely to be faced by institutions as they respond to opportunities and challenges in adoption of ebooks.

Thom Bunting and Richard Waller (UKOLN ISC) have been responsible for the project management and production editing of this most recent in a series of TechWatch reports. In their work on this forthcoming TechWatch, they liaised closely with its author James Clay (ILT Learning and Resources Manager at Gloucestershire College) as well as more broadly with many others in the JISC Observatory team (notably Li Yuan, Scott Wilson, and Phil Barker of JISC CETIS) and in Higher and Further Education institutions across the UK and internationally to coordinate input into this report.

If you would like to read Preparing for Effective Adoption and Use of eBooks in Education, and send your views on its content, see the JISC Observatory Web site for explanations of how to provide feedback.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Launch of JISC Observatory Report: Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure]]> 2012-09-17T12:35:34Z 2012-09-17T10:00:48Z The JISC Observatory has published the latest TechWatch report on Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure, which highlights approaches institutions should consider if they wish to exploit a data-driven infrastructure.

In light of increasing requirements for Higher Education institutions to manage their data more effectively, we are seeing a move in systems design towards a ‘data-centric architecture‘. For example, the requirement by HEFCE for institutions to publish Key Information Sets (KIS) data provides one example of the move towards greater transparency for institutional business processes. The detailed reporting required in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) serves as another example.

Within this context of increasing regulation from government and changing requirements from Higher and Further Education agencies and other stakeholders, institutions need to find a sustainable approach to managing data.

To meet the new regulatory requirements in an efficient and sustainable way, the HE sector has seen the emergence of innovative approaches to ‘data-driven infrastructure’ where it is access to data (from institutions and agencies) that determines the shape and function of that infrastructure.

As our HE institutions face increasing requirements to manage data more effectively, this could mean, for some institutions, a shift in emphasis in systems design towards a ‘data-centric architecture’. In any case, if our institutions are to exploit an emerging data-driven infrastructure, they will need to understand what this entails.

The JISC Observatory’s report on Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure highlights approaches which institutions can take in responding to these strategic drivers in order to adopt a more data-centric approach. The report includes a description of data-centric architectures and an overview of tools and technologies (including APIs, Linked Data and NoSQL) together with a review of architectural approaches which institutions will need to consider.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[Pure goes live at the University of Bath]]> 2012-08-03T16:37:19Z 2012-08-03T16:37:19Z The first phase of the Pure CRIS rollout at the University of Bath started in July, when the system was made available to all academic and research staff. Having reported on CRIS and CERIF developments for JISC for the past couple of years, being able to access (and use) information about my own research in a real live system is exciting stuff!

A user profile has been set up for all academic and research staff, so on logging into the system for the first time, existing data can be accessed on research grants and contracts, publications and postgraduate research students. Information in the profile has been taken from several University systems including human resources, the EPrints instutional repository, finance and the student system. I can report that the interface is very user friendly, having just added a new publication (including full text) to my profile. For now, staff can only access their own research information; at a later date tailored views will be possible, so that eg Heads of Department will be able to view departmental data. There is a facility to create CVs and bibliographies and later this year automatic population of personal web pages will be available. The Research Development and Support Office provides a Pure User Guide and a series of training workshops is being held from July until end September.

The REF module will go live at the end of September, with a ‘dress rehearsal’ exercise planned to start in October. The Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN will also be working with University of Bath colleagues to test REF submission from Pure using CERIF; a CERIF XML template is currently being developed with HEFCE.

The institutional repository will be populated via Pure from now on – adding a full-text document to a publication’s record automatically adds the full-text document to the corresponding record in the IR. However, like many other UK universities, Bath will assess the requirement for a separate repository in the medium term, if it can be demonstrated that Pure is capable of replicating EPrints functionality.

The reporting module is due to be launched in November, following further development work by Atira to cater for specific UK reporting requirements.

Jane Millar, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research, and Pure Project Sponsor, has said that the implementation of Pure is a major step forward in how  information about research is handled at the University. It’s certainly looking good from a researcher point of view.

lisrw <![CDATA[Ariadne Issue 69 Now Available]]> 2012-08-03T15:45:20Z 2012-08-03T15:34:45Z Ariadne 2012 banner
Ariadne Issue 69 has been published recently with its usual mix of features both technical and more wide-ranging together with event reports and a raft of reviews on recent publications. This issue includes a technical feature from Thom Bunting of the Innovation Support Centre who has described in some detail the requirements, choices and decisions before the ISC team responsible for the re-development of Ariadne Web Magazine. In Moving Ariadne: Migrating and Enriching Content with Drupal  Thom recounts the recent migration to a database-driven CMS, Thom reminds us of a key challenge: the migration of so much and not entirely homogenous content.   He describes the post-migration review of the articles on the new platform, and the measures adopted to ensure a higher degree of consistency which would then make it possible to expose the publication’s depth of content far more effectively. Thom then proceeds to an examination of the ‘contrib’ and other Drupal modules and the effect their deployment has on the new functionality that Ariadne now offers. His conclusions offer other developers a view of how the technology has responded to the challenges posed by the re-development of a publication the size of Ariadne.

At the same time, Rosemary Russell of the ISC has contributed a report on the recent JISC Research Information Management: CERIF Workshop in which she provides readers with a firm grounding in the current activity of the CERIF Support Project at the Innovation Support Centre as well as an introduction, if one is still necessary, to Brigitte Jörg, the new National Coordinator for the Project. Rosemary provides an overview of the current CERIF landscape in the UK, reporting on the state of RIM-related activity in the UK currently as well as the rate of CRIS (Current Research Information System) procurement since the first Pure system in the UK was procured jointly by the Universities of Aberdeen and St Andrews in May 2009. She also covers UK involvement with euroCRIS and other international initiatives, the outcomes of the HE Data and Information Landscape report, the launch of a test version of the ‘CERIFied’ Research Outputs System (ROS), and the effect of the Gateway to Research (GtR) over this year. Rosemary supplies details of other developments as well as discussions and issues that arose during what was clearly a successful workshop organised by UKOLN.

Further information on Issue 69 is available in a news feature on the UKOLN Web site.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Talk on “What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories?”]]> 2012-07-17T19:02:39Z 2012-07-17T14:29:08Z As described in a recent post  a paper by myself and Jenny Delasalle entitled “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” was presented at the Open Repositories conference, OR 2012. This work was based on activity undertaken by the UKOLN ISC to explore ways in which content hosted in institutional repositories can be made easier to find. Increasingly such work is informed by evidence-based approaches which seek to interpret quantitative evidence of the value of particular approaches.

A talk entitled  ”What Does The Evidence Tell Us About Institutional Repositories?” has been accepted for presentation at the Internet Librarian International, ILI 2012 conference. This talk, which will take place in session B203 on  Evidence and impact, will build on the ideas described in our paper on “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” as well as  the paper on “Open Metrics for Open Repositories by Brian Kelly, Mark Dewey and Stephanie Taylor of the ISC at UKOLN together with Nick Sheppard, Jenny Delasalle, Owen Stephens and Gareth Johnson. The ILI 2012 presentation will also provide an opportunity to present additional findings from our RepUK work, together with our effort with UK Repositorynet+.


Stephanie Taylor <![CDATA[Innovation Zone: Support for Developments in Repository Infrastructure]]> 2012-07-12T11:27:54Z 2012-07-11T10:56:14Z Thom Bunting gave a presentation  on the Innovation Zone as part of the UK RepositoryNet+: showcase of Wave 1 service components and ideas workshop for Wave 2 session at OR2012.

Thom explained that the Innovation Zone is a JISC-funded initiative focussing on supporting developments in repository infrastructure in the UK, managed by the Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN and the RepositoryNet (RepNet) at Edina. Support is within four main areas:  technical knowledge-exchange through expert workshops;  sharing of key information on repository components and use cases via a knowledge base;  trials of APIs with developer communities through DevSCI; and the incubation of prospective services, an area currently under development and available soon.

Thom is keen to hear from anyone who has repository-related service with an API they would like to trial with developers. The Innovation Zone is able to offer help in putting you in touch with developers and making links with other projects in complimentary areas of work.

The incubation aspect of the Innovation Zone support will be available soon and can help with new development initiatives such as repository infrastructure innovations, prospective components and microservices. Again, Thom is keen to hear from people who have projects that could benefit from incubation.

To find out more and engage with the  Innovation Zone, leave a comment here and/or contact Thom.



Stephanie Taylor <![CDATA[Adding Google Juice To Your Repository]]> 2012-07-11T10:11:23Z 2012-07-11T10:08:55Z

Brian Kelly of UKOLN ISC presented a poster in the Poster Minute Madness session on Tuesday, promoting the paper “Can LinkedIn and Enhance Access to Open Repositories?” which he co-authored with Jenny Delasalle of the University of Warwick. The poster focusses on the importance of adding ‘Google juice’ to your institutional repository by generating more links to individual papers deposited in an IR.

Brian has the largest number of downloads from OPUS, the IR of the University of Bath and he has an h-index of 11 for his papers on accessibility in particular are being well-cited. Research carried out by Brian and Jenny suggests that the large number of downloads and citations may be due to inbound links from popular services such as LinkedIn and

More research needs to be done in this area, but should repository managers be acting on the current findings? There are obvious benefits of actively encouraging researchers to link to their papers from popular profile services used by their fellow researchers. Jenny’s review of the sector suggested repository managers are not being pro-active in promoting the use of such services. Why is this? What, if any, are the barriers?

Brian wrote a blog post that summarises the paper and another about the poster session. Jenny has blogged further thoughts on the original paper as part of this ongoing discussion.

For those not able to attend or wanting another look, there is a SlideShare presentation available,  based on the poster.

The debate carries on, so if you didn’t have time to contribute during the session or you weren’t able to attend the conference, please join in by leaving a comment on Brian’s blog and/or tweeting at Brian and Jenny.


Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[RIM CERIF workshop in Bristol]]> 2012-07-10T14:34:48Z 2012-07-04T23:30:22Z RIM CERIF workshop, Bristol 28-29 June 2012
The Innovation Support Centre at UKOLN (together with the JISC RIM and RCSI Programmes) organised a workshop in Bristol on 27-28 June on Research Information Management (RIM) and CERIF. The aim was to bring together people working on the various elements of the UK RIM jigsaw to share experience and explore ways of working together more closely. There were around 30 participants over the two days, including JISC RIM and MRD projects and programme managers, support and evaluation projects, Research Councils, funders and repository infrastructure projects. It was great to have Brigitte Jörg there in the first week of her new role at the Innovation Support Centre as National Coordinator for the CERIF Support Project. JISC projects formed the core audience, with some other contributors coming and going according to demands back at the office. RIM-related developments certainly continue apace. Just published the previous week was the HE Data and Information Landscape report; Andy Youell (director of the project at HESA) highlighted the significance of getting decision makers right across the sector to work together for the first time eg there has been no HE body to lead on data standards, hence no coherence. There is a need to raise information and data issues out of the ‘nerd space’ (!) to senior management level.

Another signficant step forward announced was a test verion of a ‘CERIFy’d’ Research Outputs System (ROS) which had just been made available on the first morning of the workshop. A demo can be viewed showing CERIF import. Live use is planned within several weeks. With NERC taking the decision to move to ROS, there will shortly be five Research Councils using the system. Interestingly, ROS plans to harvest from institutional repositories, which will avoid PIs having to submit individual outputs. ROS  staff are working closely with the JISC CERIF in Action project and there are also close parallels with the IRIOS2 project.

The CERIF-based Gateway to Research (GtR) was another focus of discussion. Whereas ROS will be used for institutional input, GtR will be for access. Since data will be sourced from six different Research Council systems with no common ontology, a data dictionary will need to be developed. The project has been advised (by Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia) to concentrate on making the data available in a standard format (CERIF) and not to worry about the interface – instead prize challenges will be offered to communities for developing applications.

As might be expected the issue of identifiers arose a number times, researcher identifiers in particular, with ORCID being recommended by the JISC Task and Finish Group. HESA also highlighted the ‘big opportunities’ for person identifiers.  The prospect of a ‘UK ORCID’ was discussed, alongside the business case and data security issues. JISC will be looking at organisational identifiers next, agreed as a much more difficult nut to crack.

Repository infrastructure development work was presented by the RepNet project at EDINA (aiming to increase the cost effectiveness of open access repositories) and RIOXX (metadata guidelines for repository managers specifically).

A range of breakout groups covered topics including impact, vocabularies/ontologies, institutional repository/CRIS challenges, research data, and options for maintaining CERIF outputs from JISC project (eg role of euroCRIS and CERIF task group). The REF breakout discussion resulted in agreement with HEFCE to develop a CERIF XML template for research groups, staff and outputs submission and to initiate a test pilot for submission (with KCL and the University of Bath – both to be approached). A test pilot will allow valuable learning within a proper framework – import/export of CERIF XML is planned to start in September 2012.

Presentations from the workshop and breakout outputs are available via the programme page. A fuller event report will be published in the next issue of Ariadne.


Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Draft of TechWatch Report on Data-driven Infrastructure Available for Comments]]> 2012-06-28T13:50:17Z 2012-06-28T13:50:17Z The JISC Observatory service, provided by the ISC at UKOLN and JISC CETIS, is pleased to announce the publication of a preview version of the Preparing for Data-driven Infrastructure TechWatch report. This report, written by Max Hammond, provides an overview of key data-management concepts and approaches as well as practical tools available to Higher Education and Further Education.  This report can be used to help organisational planning and to inform data-management strategies.

Specifically, the report:

  • describes data-centric architectures;
  • gives some examples of how data is already shared between organisations and discusses this from a data-centric perspective;
  • introduces some of the key tools and technologies that can support data-centric architectures as well as some new models of data management, including opportunities to use “cloud” services;
  • concludes with a look at the direction of travel;
  • lists the sources cited in a References section.

A preview report is being made available for a period of two weeks (from 29 June to 16 July 2012) to allow for public comment and feedback. A final version, taking into account all feedback received, will be published in early August 2012.

The preview copy can be accessed from the JISC Observatory Web site.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[IWMW 2012]]> 2012-06-25T16:53:42Z 2012-06-25T16:53:42Z UKOLN’s annual Institutional Web Management Workshop, IWMW 2012, was held at the University of Edinburgh on 18-20 June 2012.  The three-day event attracted 172 delegates in total.  There were a total of 14 plenary sessions together with 19 parallel sessions.

Slides from the plenary talks and several of the parallel sessions are available on the IWMW 2012 web site.  In addition video recordings of the plenary talks together with several brief video interviews which were recorded at the event are also available on the UKOLN Vimeo account.

Rosemary Russell http:// <![CDATA[Gateway to Research endorses CERIF]]> 2012-06-21T17:20:19Z 2012-06-21T17:20:19Z The Gateway to Research (GtR) decision at an early stage to use CERIF provides a very public endorsement of the standard. The portal is being designed to allow the general public to access information on the research (including related data) funded by the UK’s Research Councils. It is aimed particularly at ‘innovative intensive companies’. GtR was announced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in December 2011 as part of the Innovation and Research Strategy which set out the Government’s approach to boosting investment in innovation and enabling UK success in the global economy. It is expected to be launched at the end of 2013.

Paul Walk <![CDATA[Sakai-Jasig plenary talk on the changing role of the developer in HE]]> 2012-06-12T15:23:47Z 2012-06-12T12:45:49Z 20120612-084541.jpg
I have just given an invited plenary talk at the joint Sakai/Jasig Conference in Atlanta, on The Changing Role of the Developer in HE. Introducing the notion of the connected developer, and describing how the DevCSI project has supported the growth of a community of ‘connected developers’ in HE in the UK, I went on to describe the need for a new role – the Strategic Developer – one which can provide a developer perspective to institutional strategic decision-making.

The talk appears to have generated considerable interest in the Sakai and Jasig communities, with an invitation to DevCSI to collaborate more formally.

Slides for this talk are available on Slideshare.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Web Accessibility: Putting People and Processes First]]> 2012-05-31T13:54:26Z 2012-06-01T13:34:56Z Recent work on policy approaches for the provision of accessible Web products has been featured in an article on Web Accessibility: Putting People and Processes First which has been published in the E-Access Bulletin, May 2012.

The article is based on a paper on ‘A Challenge to Web Accessibility Metrics and Guidelines: Putting People and Processes First’ which was presented recently at W4A 2012, the 9th International Cross-Disciplinary Conference on Web Accessibility. The paper argues that standards such as WCAG assume that accessibility is a function of a digital resource and that organisational accessibility policies should be based on conformance of the Web resource with WCAG accessibility guidelines . However the authors argue that since accessibility is primarily related to the user’s experiences, such approaches are too simplistic for the diverse ways in which web products are used.  The BS8878 Code of Practice provides a more appropriate standard for use by institutions, as this can help to ensure that appropriate policy decisions are made, processes are deployed and users are involved in these processes.

Brian Kelly <![CDATA[Times Higher Education Article on ISC Work on Evidence of Metrics for Social Media Use in HEIs]]> 2012-05-31T12:04:02Z 2012-05-31T12:04:02Z The THE (Times Higher Education) Scholarly Web column on Weekly transmissions from the blogosphere highlights recent surveys of institutional use of social media which are aimed at helping to inform policy decisions on use of such services through gathering of evidence of take-up. The article describes how:

Mr Kelly took Facebook usage by Russell Group universities as his starting point for research to “gather evidence to support discussions on the relevance of use of Facebook in the higher education sector”. By tallying the number of “likes” a university’s Facebook page had attracted at different points in the past year, he found there had been a “significant growth” for Russell Group institutions.

and goes on to mention the caveats of over-simplistic interpretations of such metrics mentioned in the post which asked What Next, As Facebook Use in UK Universities Continues to Grow?:

“The ‘liking’ of a university may provide a bookmark which is not an indication of engagement with the institution,” he warns.

For instance, students who have left may not have “unliked” their institution despite graduating, so the figures could include those no longer using the university’s services.

A survey on institutional use of Facebook has been set up in order to gain a better understanding  of how Facebook is being used across the sector, beyond the provision of basic Facebook pages. As described in a post about the survey:

The survey is intended primarily for those working in institutional Web management or marketing teams in UK universities or FE colleges.  However we appreciate that universities around the world will have similar interests in the role of Facebook, together with concerns regarding the sustainability of the service, privacy issues and its relevance in supporting educational needs.

We therefore invite those with  responsibilities for managing social media services in the UK and beyond to complete this survey.

Paul Walk <![CDATA[Tweeting the London Riots]]> 2012-05-30T13:22:31Z 2012-05-30T13:22:29Z Emma Tonkin, Technical Innovation Coordinator at the Innovation Support Centre, was recently interviewed by a journalist from Science about some analysis she conducted into how the riots in the UK last summer were covered on Twitter. Emma collaborated with researchers from the University of Bath, Bristol University and New Mexico State University. I was pleased to learn today that an article, which references Emma and her work, has appeared in Science.

This represents an interesting application of Emma’s expertise in text mining and analysis, coupled with ongoing research into social networking technologies.

The article, and the paper published in ASIS&T make for interesting reading.