RSP Summer School


Delegates learning about research management

I was fortunate enough to have been at the recent RSP Summer School event held in fabulous surroundings at Matfen Hall near Corbridge in Northumberland.

The event, was ably managed by Dominic Tate from RSP and was attended by around 30 or so individuals involved in repository managment and information management in some way. There were lots of varying levels of experience plus a few researchers who were able to put some great perspective on the issues of the day.

The meeting heard presentations from a number of different speakers, all of whom were from different backgrounds.  These ranged from experiences of setting up institutional repositories, hands on metadata workshops, information on legal services available to repository managers, researcher perspectives and all the way through to an excellent post dinner presentation from Bill Hubbard (RSP Director) on the archeology of Hadrians Wall.

I was presenting on the ERIS Project, providing a general overview and a description of the thinking behind the decision to undertake the work.  One thing that struck me was the fact that the work we are involved in is quite distinctly seperated from repository development on the ground, and has helped further distinguish the project stakeholders from each other.

There was a fair bit of discussion around some of the topics that I was presenting on, especially around the need to consider the skill sets of Business Analysts in extracting the true requirements from users in the development of systems for the deposit and management of instututional repositories.

This is based on the failure (from my perspective) of repositories to truly consider the needs of users, including understanding the subtext of what they actually mean when being asked the question of what they want the repository to do.  More often than not, when asked, the users will tell you what you what they think you want to know – not what they actually want.

This is where then skill of a good business analyst comes in to its own, and it seems conspicuous by its absence from the recent SHERPA repository staff and skill sets document.


Excellent event dinner at Matfen Hall

From  a project perspective, I had a number of very useful conversations, some fueled by probably more wine than necessary, but all of great value.  In particular my conversations with Daniel Hook of Symplectic (who was attending as a researcher rather than business owner) which validated some of the views around the motivation and arguments for depositing into instutional repositories as well as subject repositories/open access journals.

I was also able to chat with Sally Curry from RIN on some areas where ERIS and RIN are working along the same lines, which may bear fruit later, plus Stephen Grace from KCL who presented on the readiness for REF project (phase 2) which was particulary useful in relation to the use of the CERIF for recording information on research.

Over all, a very useful event, and one that I’d recommend highly to people – especially for those who might feel a little inditimdated by some of the more technical and ‘expert’ repository events that take place around the country.

I’m very pleased with the relationship that ERIS is building with RSP, and I’ll hope for us to work on collaborating in a number of areas over the coming years.



ERIS/SCURL Repository managers event

National Library of Scotland - Causwayside Building

Image attributed to: Maniacyak (Flickr) Some Rights Reserved.

Repository Managers Event

The ERIS Project and SCURL are organising a joint workshop meeting on the 24th September at the Causwayside building of the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh. The intention is to bring together key stakeholders, repository managers and digital curation experts, at a practical focused event to talk together and share perspectives, requirements, problems and solutions surrounding the issue of digital curation policy.

The workshop is part of the ERIS Project’s goal of producing collective recommendations for the next steps for repository managers in enabling the provision of practical, focused support, services and tools for the curation of their digital content.

Additionally, the workshop should further repository managers’ understanding of how to implement strategies and processes related to digital preservation and curation.

At the event the organisers will be discussing a survey which is being distributed on behalf of the ERIS project on institutional issues of curation policy, and will use the survey as a basis for discussion.

Benefits of attendance

  • Learn about the ERIS Project, its goals and objectives;
  • An opportunity to share your curation and preservation issues, (concerns, wishes, solutions) with peers and experts;
  • To gain insight from other repository managers on how they are approaching digital object curation on different platforms;
  • To gain some tips from fellow practitioners on what works for them;
  • To share your expertise with the repository community.

Programme (draft)

9:15am Arrivals & Coffee

9:40am Welcome and Introduction  (10 mins)

10am Introduction to the ERIS Project (20 mins)

10:20am ‘Fresh’ update on Digital Curation/Preservation activity from the Digital Curation Centre (20 mins)

Comfort Break (10 mins)

11am Facilitated discussion on ERIS Digital Curation Survey (1.5 hrs)

12:30pm Lunch: Networking opportunity


For further information on this event, and to confirm attendance, please contact Jill Evans on 0131 623 3940 email:   The SCURL Service Development Manager post is
jointly funded by SLIC and the NLS.

ERIS at the Repository Support Project 2009 Summer School

The ERIS project has been invited to present at the newly announced Repository Support Project (RSP) 2009 Summer School.  If you haven’t already seen the programme, then please do;  The following text has been taken straight from the RSP site.  It looks like it will be a good event, and I’ve heard great reports from the previous Winter  School so am really looking forward to it.

“Monday 14th – Wednesday 16th September 2009, Matfen Hall, Matfen, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK, NE20 0RH

Matfen Hall

Following the tremendous success of February’s RSP Winter School, we are delighted to announce our next event for the Autumn term. Participants will hear presentations and take part in workshops led by leading experts in fields related to repository management over the three days of this residential course. Taking place at Matfen Hall in beautiful rural Northumberland, participants will also benefit from unique opportunities to network with peers.

The course aims to provide a forum in which repository staff can keep up to date with the latest developments in a a wide range of fields related to their work. Sessions will combine presentations with workshop elements, and are intended to have a strong practical element so that repository professionals can learn from the experiences of others and share best practice.”

Repository Fringe 2009

Image Attribution; Jim Downing, July 20th 2009.

Image Attribution; Jim Downing, July 20th 2009. Some rights Reserved;

ERIS had a recent outing to the Repository Fringe event,  a most enjoyable mix of people engaged in all forms of repository engagement and an informative few days overall.

In terms of project involvement – I presented my first ever Pecha Kucha session which basically involved delivering 20 slides, with only 20 seconds allowed for each slide.  It was an interesting experience preparing for it, and it certainly focuses the mind! That said, I’m not sure how much anyone would have got out of it, and as ever, if rushed I’m not the best at this sort of thing.

For me personally, the best presentation was on the use of marketing techniques to support the promotion of research outputs from Joyce Lewis of Southampton.  The presentation was entitled “Marketing and Repositories – Tell me a Story” I don’t have a link unfortunatly for the presentation or any more details other than to look at the datashare blog entry on the RF Pecha Kucha sessions

Other highlights for me were the round table sessions on day 2 of the meeting. We had three topics for consideration, one on the practical impact of OA mandates at institutions, one on data repositories and another on where IR’s will be in 5 years time. Rather than go into any huge detail, I’ll point you towards the excellent summaries posted at the DISC-UK datashare blog which were put together by Nicola Osborne, who is the Social Media Officer based out of EDINA.

I also had a useful premeeting with folks from the Repository Support Project and the Welsh Repositories Network, ahead of our more formal meeting in September about how we as a tripartite group might be able work together. More on that later.

Pictures of the event are available on Flickr

Managing project benefits

One of the key areas I’m trying to plan proactivly is the benefits management of the ERIS project. I’m looking into this particularly as the projects success factors are somewhat intangible. For example, the following are listed as outcomes of the project, and whilst some can be associated with direct measures of success, the benefits of others are more opaque.

Short-term: (ERIS in-project success factors)

(a) Improved facilities; researcher-friendly repositories supporting research pooling and other collaborative work and with added value to encourage deposit;

(b) Interoperability; Improved workflows and metadata exchange for seamless embedding of the repositories in the research and institutional processes;

(c) Improvements in education and training; enhanced knowledge and skills within institutions at all levels;

(d) Improved community collaboration; transferable best practices and service models;

Long-term: (post project factors)

(a) Improved rate of deposit; increased deposit rates leading to critical mass of research output available at both institutional and cross-repository levels.

(b) Development of trust; increased user confidence – amongst researchers and institutional managers – in the value and longevity of repositories;

(c) Demonstrated return on investment; increased confidence in the long-term ability of repositories to enhance visibility for Scottish research and, as a result, the practical and commercial exploitation of the Scottish research base

Projects don’t always give the same focus to the realisation of expected benefits as they do for ‘hard’ project measures, such as ‘on time’, ‘on budget’ and I wan’t to ensure that we don’t take this route on ERIS.

The delivery of intangible benefits (such as productivity gains, morale improvement, or increased customer satisfaction) are rarely analysed or measured. Project deliverables can be assessed as successful from an object perspective but the evaluation needs to go further than that.

The great value in taking a benefits realsiation approach is that we will be looking at evidence based measurements across the whole project, and whilst this is a significant increase in management overhead, it at least means we will be in line with JISC’s requirements and will be able to say , hand on heart, just how successful the project has been. James

Planning progress

Well, there are a couple of updates on the project to tell you about.

Andy from JISC has ‘kindly’ posted the link to the 30 second introduction to the project that I gave to the Inf11 and VRE start up meeting a few weeks ago. I hate seeing myself on video, not least when its a very rushed presentation. Hey ho.

Here’s the link if you can bear it!

Other things of note;

The first draft of the project plan was successfuly delivered to the project partners for review on Friday of last week, and I’ve set a target for the sign off at the end of July.  Fingers crossed we won’t have to do too much in the way of re-work now.

Next stage on from that is going to be the full initiation of all the workpackage projects – going into some detail on the scoping of actvities and agreeing what we can realistically achieve with the resources we have and the timeframes we have set.

We’ve also started work on the full project website, which will be the supporting tool for our survey work with researchers, repository managers and other project stakeholders.  The intention is to use Buddypress to do this, as it incorporates the powerful functionallity of WordPress with additional social networking tools so we can use it to bring these stakeholder groups together.  I will let you know more as it happens.

I’ve currently scheduled a launch date for end September 2009.

JISC Inf11-VRE start up meeting

JISCcolour23I’ve just returned from attending the JISC Information Environment and VRE start up meeting, held  at the  Uni of Leicster July 7/8th 2009.

In summary, it was a very positive meeting – primarily aimed at explaining the JISC parent programmes  and also providing some useful hints and tips for project managers.  The 1 and 1/2 day event was pretty well attended by JISC newbies and veterans with the first half day aimed at new project managers and the second day describing the programmes and then a number of workshops covering areas such as communication, sustainability, evaluation and user engagement.

The second day started off with a particularly challenging requirement to present a summary of the project in no more than 30 seconds. This is not easy, and particularly for a project as broad as ERIS. The presentations were all video recorded and will be made availabe on the JISC project pages as soon as they have been sorted.  The presentations were varied, powerpoint slides banned, and a few poetic souls came up with some very imaginative approaches, making us boring people feel very innadequate….

Personal highlights for me were a number of very interesting discussions around benefits realisation management, on evaluation in general and I particularly enjoyed the all too brief user engagement session presented by Neil Chue-Hong from

However, without question the most valuable actvity was the networking. We had ‘suggested’ people to talk to, orgainsed by the JISC programme managers.  This was done in order to identify areas of the projects that had potential overlaps, and to speak with people who may have already had experience in certain areas.

The most useful connection for me was with the Repository Support Network and the Welsh Repositories Network both of whom are effecivley working in the same space as ERIS, but in different territories. There are differences between primary objectives, but we have all agreed to get together and find out where there are areas of synergy, and see what we might be able to do to help each other.  The RSP was a particularly good fit to the IRIScotland repository managers group, which I see as a sort of Scottish branch of RSP, and I’ve agreed to strike up a regular conversation with RSP Project Manager Dominic Tate, who is now reponsible for the next 3 year funding tranche.

The WRN are embarking on a mission to “investigate the potential of a collaborative, centrally managed model for accelerating the development and uptake of repository services in HEIs in Wales and across the UK as a whole”

All in all, a very useful couple of days, in not only for the sheer entertainment of watching Hull’s Chris Awre delivering a perfect 30 second pitch for his project whilst juggling. I thought I’d seen everything…