“Managing performance data and documentation”

Photo by TheArches

This is the title of an event I attended yesterday at the University of Glasgow. Firstly some clarification – performance here means performance art not performance in the management context. The advertising blurb said: “Research in the live and performing arts produces interesting and varied types of documentation and data, including text, images, audio and video.  On Thursday 17 February, we will bring together researchers and performers working in the live and performing arts across the UK, to inspire and provide guidance for better management of these materials. “

It was a really useful and interesting day. I know I can tend to focus on science when thinking about research behaviour so it helped me to get a better insight into the areas of live and performing arts. I had a few questions at the outset:

What are the things to be stored?

What does re-use mean in this context?

What are the motivators and barriers for researchers in sharing “data”

All these questions were covered during the day so it was well worth the early start to fly to Glasgow!

Barry Smith (now retired and creator of the Live Art Archive) kicked off the morning with “10 stories”. I didn’t keep count but they were all entertaining and illuminating. He raised interesting issues about longevity and preservation and urged those with digital collections to do their utmost to increase usage as a high profile resource is more likely to be funded for the future – access as a preservation tool. From September, most of the Live Art Archive will be open access.

Stephen Gray from CAiRO (Curating Artistic Research Output) was on next. This project is about equipping researchers with the knowledge and tools to manage their data effectively. They are developing online training modules which look very impressive – really clear and relevant – and they will soon be available in Jorum. They are running a five day summer school to trial them. This is one for repository staff to keep their eye on. Also, they are looking for Case Studies about keeping (or even losing) data so do get in touch with them if you would like to contribute. Stephen answered one of my questions. In science the difference between research outputs and research data is clear. But in the performing and other creative arts, images, videos, audio etc can be the outputs and also the data. Does it really matter how we categorise them? – perhaps it’s a false distinction in this context. The important thing is good data management from the outset of a project or piece of work.

The morning concluded with an inspiring talk from theatre maker, Adrian Howells. Difficult to describe in words the beauty and challenge of his art. His one-to-one work is about contemporary intimacy in different settings. In the context of the meeting, he covered the recording and storage of his data but it was easy to get lost in the meaning of the art itself! His presentation gave a real insight into the motivations and barriers for artists in sharing their work digitally. As did talking to some of the delegates during breaks. In science, a barrier to sharing the data is the fear of lack of recognition, being pipped at the post or someone else making the big breakthrough first. Obviously recognition and attribution are critical for artists but sharing outputs is not a threat to this. A bigger issue was that of letting go of the work in an uncontrolled way – releasing the “baby”. What would people do with it?

After lunch, the focus was on support for researchers at the university (from Neil McDermott and Michael McCann), and although this was specific to the locality I found it useful to get more information about the types of data e.g. music-related.  Matt Barr from HATII outlined the technical support they could provide and the day was rounded off by Professor Andrew Prescott who spoke about the importance of preservation and described the work of the ArtsLab which is the research institute of the College of Arts.

The organisers plan to put the presentations online so I’ll post a link to these when they’re available.

RSP Winter School

The latest RSP residential course has now come to a close, after three packed days in the beautiful setting of Armathwaite hall  in the Lake District.

Delegates were collected from Penrith and taken by coach to the Hall where we sat down to a delicious lunch in the restaurant overlooking Bassenthwaite lake and the standard was set for the three days of excellent food, wine and conversation.

After lunch and registration Jackie Wickham welcomed the delegates, and we broke the ice by filling out our ‘RSP Dance Card’. Delegates were up on their feet to take note of the names of the representatives from each institution and the repository software they used. Based on my own card the split was around 20 Eprints repositories to 10 D-Space repositories, an imprecise measure but interesting to see the increasing presence of D-Space among the UK Repository community. Many of the delegates exclaimed that they were surprised that there were so many D-Space users present.

We were lucky enough to have Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Salford, provide us with our keynote address. Martin spoke enthusiastically about Open Access and its power to drive knowledge. He pointed out that fundamentally what drives academics is giving away, and the measure of success for an academic, citation, is a measure of the extent to which they are able to give away their intellectual property.  He suggested that in the future the debate would focus more on whether we should have national IRs or institutional IRs, and also closer on the horizon: the long term curation of research data. He also put out a call to the community to develop credible studies that support our claims of the wider societal benefits of OA.  Similar arguments exist in related areas such as IBMs move to Open Software, and he suggested that in these increasingly difficult economic circumstances we find ourselves we need to strengthen this evidence base.  The question and answer session that followed was equally animated and saw Martin describe a possible future for commercial publishing in a world which is moving towards OA. Martin explained that he saw a very important role for publishers in supplying highly specialised value-added services such as bespoke bibliographic review services.

Gareth Johnson gave an entertaining  perspective as a graduate of our Summer School, and a candid ‘warts and all’ view of the challenges he has faced in his repository.  We finished off day one with a light hearted debate – Green or Gold. Which route will turn out to be the most successful in increasing open access to research? – in which Emily Nimmo stepped into the breach in Bill’s absence and put forward the case for Green Open Access and Dominic Tate of Royal Holloway put forward the case for Gold Open Access. Following some very well argued points, including those from the floor, Green came out victorious.

Day two opened with an overview of the activities of RSP and three presentations which drew out themes running throughout the Winter School; CRIS systems, the REF and research data. Keith Jeffrey gave an excellent presentation on Institutional Repositories and CRIS taking in a huge amount of information and covering amongst others CERIF-CRIS and euroCRIS. Integration with CRIS systems was clearly a topic at the forefront of many delegates’ minds. Next came Mark Cox from the R4R: Readiness 4 Ref project who described the work they have been doing with euroCRIS in developing a schema, CERIF4REF, which will help eliminate the duplication of effort in producing the data necessary for the REF. He also highlighted that they are working with Southampton, Edinburgh and Kings to develop plug-ins for E-Prints, D-Space and Fedora. Bringing the morning activities to a close was Theo Andrew representing the Repository Junction project. He gave a very entertaining presentation based on a loose analogy between repositories and grain silos which had us all giggling.

The Repository Junction project is doing some very interesting work addressing the issue of multiple authored papers, mandated open access and the resultant multiple deposits.  Repository Junction puts forward a broker model which could simplify this process and provide one consistent deposit process, and based on the reaction to this among the delegates this is something that the community would enthusiastically adopt.

In the afternoon we heard from Balviar Notay who gave us an overview of the JISC take up and embedding programme and then we split into groups for an afternoon workshop which looked at four case studies of embedding repositories: Aberystwyth’s Cadair, Glasgow’s Enlighten, White Rose Consortium’s White Rose Research Online and Newcastle University’s My Impact. Each provided a very different route to embedding the repository in its institutional context and was an excellent catalyst for discussions in the groups on issues delegates were grappling with and the sharing of best practice. We closed the day with another excellent meal and discussions continued late into the evening over drinks.

Friday morning began with a workshop led by Ruth Murray-Webster, Lucidus Consulting, on measuring performance and demonstrating value and it was clear that while the repository can contribute to the aims of an institution in a number of ways proving the causal link between the repository and the result is a real challenge.

There were a number of really valuable suggestions and examples shared and it became clear that while measuring performance is vital to demonstrating value, in the absence of a national picture or benchmarking system to compare with this information is much less useful for evaluating performance.

The Winter School drew to a close with a case study on reaching researchers through their data: a DAF case study, from Miggie Pickton and an overview of the Research Communications Strategy from Amanda Hodgson which again drew out the themes evident throughout the event, advocacy and how to successfully reach out to your research community, how to and who should manage and curate research data and attitudes to Open Access.

The Winter School has yet again shown how valuable it is for repository practitioners to get together with sufficient time to really share experiences, developments and build a community. As one delegate put it:

This has to have been one of the best work-related courses I’ve attended. Not only do I feel that I have taken on board an enormous amount of information that is directly relevant to my job – and intellectually stimulating to boot – but I feel I have made contact with a supportive network of colleagues. All this, perfectly organised, and a faultless, fabulous environment, too. Outstanding. Thank you!”

Presentations from the event can be found here.

For an alternative take on the Winter School see Gareth Johnson’s blog.

Does it make a difference? Researching and evaluating the impact of repositories and OERs on teaching and learning

Readers of this Blog might be interested in the following event

“Does it make a difference? Researching and evaluating the impact of repositories and OERs on teaching and learning”

A JISC funded event, in collaboration with SCORE and LORO.

Presentations by David White and Melissa Highton of the TALL team at the University of Oxford, and Helen Beetham, e-learning consultant and member of the JISC evaluation and synthesis team. Participants may take part in the poster session during lunch or send in a presentation or recording to be included in the virtual goody bag.

Date and Venue:

23 March 2011, SCORE, East Perry Building, The Open University, Milton Keynes.

Attendance is free and lunch will be provided. Numbers are limited so early booking is recommended. Further details, programme and booking form at http://cloudworks.ac.uk/cloud/view/5023.

Any questions, contact FELS-Repository@open.ac.uk.

Presentations by David White and Melissa Highton of the TALL team at the University of Oxford, and Helen Beetham, e-learning consultant and member of the JISC evaluation and synthesis team. Participants may take part in the poster sesssion during lunch or send in a presentation or recording to be included in the virtual goody bag.


Picture This! Workshop on image metadata

Readers of this blog may be interested in a workshop on image metadata which is being run as part of the Dev8D+ programme of events in London on 15th February. It’s billed as chance to work on real-life issues around image metadata, talk to developers, get their help in solving your problems and… get some real-life solutions!

It offers:

  • A chance to outline your problems to developers in a lightning talk
  • A chance to brief developers and help create practical solutions to use in your own work
  • A Developer Challenge that will run throughout Dev8D – 16th-17th Feb –  for the best solutions, plus mystery tokens and other prizes to encourage developers and reward their hard work
  • A chance to network with other practitioners working in the same area
  • Free lunch

What you need to do –

  • Log in to the Picture This! page on the Dev8D wiki, where you can outline the problems and issues you face, and ask for help before the workshop – http://wiki.2011.dev8d.org/w/Picture_This
  • Come along on to the workshop and give a lightning talk outlining your problems and issues
  • Talk to developers about your problems, answer their questions, give them feedback
  • Work with developers on the day to create practical solutions

Booking form and programme can be found at – http://wiki.2011.dev8d.org/w/Picture_This#Registration

Image: Steven Erat