Jorum / OER case-study

The process of setting up an OER service at an institution is potentially complex, requiring a significant infrastructural and human resource both to implement and maintain hardware / software and to promote the service to institutional stakeholders. A successful service is likely to require at least 1 FTE post-holder though the full range of expertise is unlikely to reside with an individual staff-member and will involve a considerable learning curve in areas as diverse as copyright and IPR, cataloguing and metadata standards, repository/VLE/content-management and more general web-technologies.

At Leeds Metropolitan University, the OER repository has to a large extent developed alongside Jorum and represents several projects including a JISC funded repository start-up, a UKOER phase 1 project (Unicycle) and the HEA funded ACErep project. The maturing service is built on intraLibrary, a commercial learning-object repository that incurs an annual licensing fee in addition to a substantial implementation cost in year one and has required considerable customisation and associated technical work to embed it within a broader OER infrastructure. The core human resource is currently 1 FTE Repository Developer (University grade 5), 0.3 FTE Information Services Librarian and 0.5 FTE Senior web-developer (University grade 6) though staff employed on the project(s) has varied over time, including faculty based administrators during Unicycle for example.

Even though Leeds Metropolitan University has implemented its own repository, Jorum continues to be an important component of the institutional OER infrastructure and has the potential to increase the visibility of local repository content, by harvesting metadata into the national service for example. Moreover, as the institution moves towards a “consumer” model of OER use as part of the resourcing of its curriculum, staff will be increasingly directed to Jorum as a national OER repository that links together a number of institutions & resources where the aggregated material is largely from the UK HE sector, meaning there is an agreed understanding of levels of study so staff can feel confident about using the resource in their Learning & Teaching.

In terms of what the sector would lose, one of the main things is simply the focus of a national aggregation service…it has always been a frustration that OA research has never been successfully aggregated, for two main reasons, I think:

  • because they are “diluted” by metadata records for which it has not been possible to procure full-text or copyright does not permit deposit
  • insufficient (auto-harvestable) rights information

(See these posts on the UKCORR blog for more on this and

UKOER and Jorum, I think, have in fact circumvented both these issues and aggregation is therefore much more effective (especially by RSS as a light weight alternative to OAI-PMH) and with the potential to do all sorts of interesting stuff with that aggregation.

Leeds Metropolitan University has also worked with Jorum and intraLibrary on the PORSCHE (Pathways to Open Resource Sharing through Convergence in Healthcare Education) project at HEA MEDEV which has explored potential ways to represent OER in multiple repositories and which has resulted in the intraLibrary software incorporating OAI-PMH harvest functionality so that the metadata from external repositories can appear as a “collection” in intraLibrary. As well as being valuable to the institutions involved, this work has benefitted the sector as a whole and demonstrates the value of a central OER repository that can serve as a focus for innovation across the sector.


An institutional tangram – musings on developing an integrated research management system

“The tangram (Chinese: 七巧板; pinyin: qī qiǎo bǎn; literally “seven boards of skill”) is a dissection puzzle consisting of seven flat shapes, called tans, which are put together to form shapes. The objective of the puzzle is to form a specific shape (given only an outline or silhouette) using all seven pieces, which may not overlap.”

Having implemented an institutional repository at Leeds Metropolitan and learning by experience some of the difficulties associated with advocacy around the use of that repository (both for OA research and OER) I have become all too aware “that repositories are ‘lonely and isolated’; still very much under-used and not sufficiently linked to other university systems”. So said JISC’s Andy McGregor at an event called “Learning How to Play Nicely: Repositories and CRIS” in May 2010 at Leeds Metropolitan (see my report for Ariadne here). This quote is still relevant, though  perhaps a little less so than when I heard it nearly 2 years ago, thanks to the ongoing work of JISC and particularly the RSP. In any case, the event was a revelation for me and I have coveted a so called Current Research Information Management systems (or CRIS for short) ever since!

And now, in Symplectic Elements, I have one…or at least the components of one (click on image for full size.)

The finished tangram? (click on image for full size)

It’s a puzzle though. A tangram if you will…one with considerably more than seven pieces:

intraLibrary, Symplectic, institutional website, University Research Office (URO), faculty research administrators, The Research Excellence Framework (REF), academic staff, web-developers, bibliographic information, research outputs, Open Educational Resources (OER)…

In fact, this may well not be all the pieces…pretty sure a few have been pushed down the back of the settee. I’ll look for them later.

Anyway, tortured metaphors aside, I have become increasingly aware that working in a large institution, in a role that encompasses technology and institutional policy (though I’m not, by any means, a policy maker…or indeed a real techie) is largely about communication and getting the right people, with the right skills, in the right place at the right time! Absorb policy and technical requirements from senior stakeholders and communicate those requirements to the proper techies – while also trying to ensure any motivating passions of one’s own don’t get lost along the way – Open Access to research and Open Education in my case.

For various reasons, individual user accounts have never been implemented for our repository and historically it has been administered centrally from the Library. In Symplectic we now have a system that is populated with central HR data; all staff will have an account they can access with their standard user name and password from where they can manage their own research profile including uploading full-text outputs directly to the repository*. In addition, administration by the University Research Office and faculty research administrators will be more easily centralised (particularly for the REF).

* In actual fact this functionality is not yet available in lieu of development work from Intrallect to capture the Atom feed from Symplectic and transform with XSLT to a suitable format for intraLibrary. I think.

One of the clever bits of functionality used to sell the software is automatic retrieval of bibliographic data from online citation databases – we are currently running against various APIs, Web of Science (lite), PubMed and arXiv – but I think this may actually be a bit of a red-herring for an institution like Leeds Metropolitan – at least until more (preferably free) data sources are available (JournalToCs API please!); early testing has shown, at best, it will only retrieve a subset of (the types of) outputs that we will need to record and it will be necessary to manually import existing records (e.g. EndNote) as well as implementing other administrative procedures at faculty level to capture information at the point of publication, especially for book-items, monographs, conference material, reports and grey literature.

More important, I think, to ensure that academic staff actually engage with the software rather than just seeing it as a tool for administrators, is to re-use the data to generate a list of research outputs – a dynamic bibliography – on a personal web-profile which has the potential to dramatically increase the visibility of research including Open Access to full-text.

Developing staff profiles of this type has been something of an obsession of mine for a while; we explored doing so from the repository (using SRU and email address as a Unique Identifier) and did develop a working prototype. Symplectic, however, integrated with central HR data and with its more sophisticated API, should make it much easier, at least from a technical perspective, and we are currently liaising with the central web-team to develop something similar to this example from Keele University – (like us, Keele run Symplectic alongside intraLibrary.)

N.B. From the Symplectic interface, a user is able to “favourite” a research record and a flag comes out in the xml from the API which I understand is used on this page to display “Selected Publications”. DOI is also available from the API to link to the published version and if a user uploads full-text to the repository from Symplectic, this link is also in the xml – the first two records on this page include links to the full-text in Keele’s intraLibrary repository.

Our own Library web-dev Mike Taylor has been looking at the Symplectic API in detail and has put together a couple of prototype pages on a development server and after a meeting this week with a representative of the central web-team I’m reasonably confident we can move forward with this work fairly quickly…though there’s still a bit of a chicken & egg situation in populating the Symplectic database to then be re-surfaced via the API in this way.

There is also the question of whether we might alter our repository policy to become full-text only; one limitation of repositories across UK HE from an original conception (in the arXiv mould) of holding, disseminating and preserving full-text research outputs, is that they have in effect become “diluted” by metadata records for which it has not (yet) been possible to procure full-text or copyright does not permit deposit and “hybrid” repositories like ours, of full-text and metadata typically contain more metadata records than full-text (see figures from the RSP survey here). As I have argued on the UKCoRR blog, I think is makes sense to separate a bibliographic database (in Symplectic) from full-text only in a repository.

N.B. As Symplectic does not have the same search functionality as the repository, this approach has the potential disadvantage that it makes it more difficult to search across the entire corpus of research records (though one potential solution may be along the lines of that implemented by City Research Online which, in my view is rapidly becoming an exemplar of a research management system (Symplectic) + full-text repository (EPrints). Another good example is  St Andrews (PURE + DSpace) who presented a case study at “Learning How to Play Nicely: Repositories and CRIS” (video here.)

And what of OER? Along with our EasyDeposit SWORD interface, using OER to resource the refocus the undergraduate curriculum and the soon to be released intraLibrary 3.5 that will enable us to harvest OER from other repositories…for now I think they may be the bits down the back of the settee…

Turning a Resource into an Open Educational Resource (OER)

As this is the inaugural Open Education Week (whaddya mean you didn’t know?!) here’s a great 5 minute animation from OER IPR support giving an overview of IPR and licensing issues you need to be aware of when creating and repurposing Open Educational Resources.

Uploaded to the Leeds Met repository under the terms of CC-BY-SA 😉

Turning a Resource into an Open Educational Resource (OER) – Leeds Met Repository Open Search.

Towards an integrated research management system (JISC bid pending)

Recently we submitted a bid to JISC for the Repositories: Take-Up and Embedding strand of Grant 15/10: JISC infrastructure for education and research programme.  I don’t know the result of the bid yet but will summarise it here, partly in the spirit of openness exemplified by @chriskeene and Joss Winn and partly because, if we aren’t successful, then I probably won’t much feel like making it public!

Naturally I hope we are awarded the bid but one thing that I have learned from previous bids – both successful and unsuccessful (or job applications for that matter) – is that nothing is ever wasted.  We worked hard on this and I’m confident that work will pay off. One way or another!

The bid (abridged)

RepRISE: Reproducing Research Information System Exemplars

Outline Project Description

Institutional Repositories (IRs) are well established in the UK. However, they require continuous development to ensure that they are sufficiently linked to other university systems and to encourage and allow full utilisation and maximum levels of deposit. The RepRISE project will build upon successful JISC funded repository projects in order to incorporate best practice into the Leeds Met repository and embed it into a developing infrastructure to support research management. It will integrate the IR with a commercial CERIF [Common European Research Information Format] compliant CRIS such that metadata/full text can be automatically deposited into the repository while integrating all systemic components with the University LDAP system to ensure outputs are tied to the same unique identifier across the infrastructure. Particular benefits to the community will be to elucidate the challenges of applying established and developing best practice in the context of diverse repository and CRIS software other than employed by the original projects.


To date, Leeds Metropolitan University has completed four successful repository related JISC-funded projects, establishing an intraLibrary repository which was chosen on the basis that it should support preservation and access to a broad range of materials, including both research and learning and teaching material.  We now have a well functioning multi-purpose repository which can be accessed via Leeds Met Repository Open Search at and currently exposes two main collections to public search – “Research” and “Open Educational Resources”.  Through the Unicycle project funded under the e-learning programme and Streamline and PERSoNA funded under the Users and Innovation programme we have developed tools and processes to improve the workflow for users of Research and Open Educational Resources. These projects have successfully engaged users of the repository and started the process of embedding its use into university strategy and procedures.  Work is ongoing to backfill the repository with full text and bibliographic records and to develop workflows to integrate with the research life-cycle to capture metadata and full text at the point of publication.

Leeds Metropolitan University’s developing repository infrastructure is representative of JISC supported initiatives since 2005 and Institutional Repositories (IRs) are now well established in the UK and internationally; however, they are often not sufficiently linked to other university systems and tend to be under-used and under-resourced with low levels of full-text deposit and require continuous advocacy to academic staff, the end-users who would benefit most.  Increasingly there is a developing relationship and overlap between Open Access research repositories and so called Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) that are increasingly being implemented at universities as well as benefits realisation of the SWORD (Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit) protocol to make it easier for academic staff to deposit scholarly outputs into a repository.

A potential additional benefit of a CRIS is that it will facilitate implementation of the CERIF [Common European Research Information Format] data model to better capture and share research information both, within the institution and across collaborating research partners, as well as with research funding bodies.  All the major commercial CRIS (Symplectic, Atira Pure, Thomson Reuters’s InCites) are now CERIF compatible and a component of the current proposal will be to investigate the use of CERIF in line with the recommendations of the JISC funded project, Exchanging Research Information in the UK (EXRI-UK)

Examples of CRIS/IR integration include:

  • The Universities of St Andrews and Aberdeen who have jointly procured the Pure research information system have carried out a lot of work embedding it with their respective repositories – Pure itself does not preserve full-text research outputs but is able to use the CERIF data model to link to external systems like the IR which, in turn, provides the technology to preserve full text and ensure metadata is harvested by OAI-PMH.  In addition, full-text deposit to the repository is mediated through the Pure interface itself giving an integrated system for the user.
  • A consortium led by the University of Leeds also comprising Keele University, Queen Mary University of London, University of Exeter and University of Plymouth who are currently working with Symplectic on the RePosit project which aims to “increase uptake of a web-based repository deposit tool embedded in a researcher-facing publications management system.”
  • The Enrich project at Glasgow University to establish their Enlighten repository as a comprehensive, University-wide repository and central publications database. It is also seeking to improve staff profiles by linking data from core institutional systems while working to ensure compliance with funders’ open access policies and reporting requirements and improving publicity for research activity and outputs.

Our Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise has emphasised the importance of developing our research infrastructure in order to focus on our areas of strength and continue to develop as we meet the challenges of future research assessments. The DVC is committed to implementing a CRIS at the University and work has already begun to specify institutional requirements of the system and establish capital outlay and ongoing costs to ensure sustainability.

The integration of CRIS/IR systems into an institutional research management infrastructure has the potential to dramatically impact upon advocacy initiatives around repository use and promoting Open Access to research.  Using repository data to feed the web-pages of individual academics and schools, for example, will provide an incentive to ensure repository records are comprehensive while the development of web-based interfaces for academic staff to manage their research outputs have the potential to make it easier for them to archive full text.

Deliverables (infrastructure)

  • To specify and implement a commercial CRIS
  • To integrate the CRIS with the existing Institutional Repository (intraLibrary) such that metadata/full text can be automatically deposited and data can be transferred between the two systems
  • To integrate CRIS/repository with the University LDAP system to ensure that outputs are tied to the same unique identifier in all systemic components of the institutional research infrastructure
  • To feed repository data to other areas of the University Web site, so that dynamic publication lists can be added to departmental or individual academics’ Web pages

Deliverables (use-cases):

  • To produce a detailed report on specific outputs utilised from other CRIS/IR integrations including JISC funded repository projects
  • To publish and disseminate a series of use-cases on adapting best practice from other projects focussing particularly on any issues around alternative CRIS/repository software
  • To publish and disseminate a series of use-cases on institutional requirements from an integrated CRIS/IR
  • To draw up a set of methodologies and approaches for building and engaging user communities within an institution on a subject discipline model
  • To develop use-cases exploring advocacy initiatives relating to the developing infrastructure  around repository use and promoting Open Access to research
  • To investigate the use of the CERIF data model to ascertain if it can be implemented within a timescale to facilitate its use in the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Value to the JISC community

This project will examine some of the most successful JISC funded repository projects as well as applications and services developed outside JISC funding in order to incorporate best practice into the Leeds Met repository and our developing infrastructure to support research management.  The large amount of JISC funds invested in repository development since 2007 and earlier has meant that the value of repositories is now well articulated in the sector; that value, however, is often still potential rather than it is real.  There is a wealth of good-practice and many institutional exemplars from which other institutions can learn and employ to improve their own services within the parameters of their particular requirements and existing infrastructure.

In addition to the Enrich and RePosit projects and the repository/Pure integration at St Andrews and Aberdeen, other projects that will inform the current project proposal include:

  • Open Research Online (ORO) at the Open University represents a service that is well embedded in the institution’s web-presence, using repository data to feed the web-pages of individual academics and schools.
  • CentAUR at the University of Reading has integrated their repository and HR database to ensure that staff are all able to log into the repository with their Reading usernames. The profile data are also the source of an autocomplete suggestion list for names entered into the Author/Creator field. When a name is selected from the list it is automatically associated with a unique ID and email address.

Particular benefits will be to elucidate the challenges of applying established and developing best practice in the context of diverse repositories, CRIS software and internal infrastructure over and above those employed by the original projects and including the potentially different institutional mission regarding research and the relationship between teaching and research.

Glasgow, ORO, Leeds, Plymouth and Reading all use EPrints software, the de facto open source OA research platform while St Andrews and Aberdeen use DSpace, another open source repository platform typically also dedicated to research management; Exeter uses Open Repository, a hosted solution from BioMed Central also based on DSpace while Keele University, with intraLibrary, is the only institution to use the same commercial platform as Leeds Met.  Keele also use Symplectic, a leading commercial CRIS, and have already worked with their commercial partners in order to link the two systems so that a full text and its bibliographic record can be pushed from Symplectic directly into intraLibrary; this project would allow us to build upon that work, either with Symplectic or another commercial CRIS, while also exploring the integration of the other institutional exemplars with intraLibrary.

As referred to above, a component of this project will also be to investigate the viability of integrating the CERIF data model into an institution where the existing research infrastructure is limited and within a timescale to facilitate its use in the Research Excellence Framework (REF).


At Leeds Metropolitan University, there is a well established relationship between the University Research Office and the Repository Development team which will help to ensure effective communication throughout the proposed project.  As outlined above, the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise is committed to institutional investment in a commercial CRIS with work already underway to identify and procure a suitable system; Workpackage 1, therefore, is effectively already underway and, as such, will constitute the foundation of the current proposal allowing us to integrate the chosen system with our repository infrastructure more rapidly and more effectively than would otherwise be the case.

The project will be overseen by a Project Director who will hold regular meetings with the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise in order to keep him up to date with progress.  The team will work on the adaptation of the SCRUM project management approach that they have used successfully in completing two earlier JISC funded projects – Bibliosight and JANUS and most recently in the ongoing HEFCE funded ACErep project; with monthly meetings of the core project team, with other stakeholders and technical advisors invited to meetings as necessary.



Success criteria, benefits realisation and sustainability

  • That a commercial CRIS is implemented and integrated with the Institutional Repository (intraLibrary), and university LDAP system such that metadata/full text can be automatically deposited from the CRIS into the repository and all outputs are tied to an author unique identifier across the institutional research infrastructure.
  • Data feeds from the repository are exposed to other areas of the University Web site, so that dynamic publication lists can be easily added to departmental or individual academics’ Web pages.
  • The CERIF data model is implemented and may be extended across the research infrastructure that has been tested in the context of the REF.
  • That skills and knowledge pertaining to research management using the CERIF data model are transmitted to relevant staff including URO, Repository Team and Academic Staff
  • That the team has published/disseminated a set of use-cases on adapting best practice from other projects focussing particularly on issues around alternative CRIS/ repository software.
  • That the team has compiled a set of methodologies and approaches for building and engaging user communities within an institution on a subject discipline model.
  • That the team has developed new advocacy initiatives relating to the developing infrastructure  around repository use and promoting Open Access to research

Sustainability of the project following completion is underpinned through the alignment of the project with the plans of the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise to build an integrated research management system across the University.  This project represents an initial stage of that, and will be built upon over the medium term.


The project team will ensure tools and systems used in the project are used with the agreement of their creators and third parties where permissions are required for their use in this context.  All project outputs will be publicly and widely disseminated for reuse by the community with appropriate IPR statements clearly stated.

Risk register


Engagement with the community

As a high profile initiative headed by the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, the implementation of a commercial CRIS at Leeds Metropolitan University will be communicated within the institution through a centralised communication policy; institutional stakeholders will be actively involved in developing the infrastructure, through their feedback and participation in the development of use cases.

In addition to engaging institutional stakeholders and providing feedback to JISC, a key aim of the proposal is to disseminate our experiences to the wider community particularly in the context of implementation with alternative software and systems; this will be achieved by utilising social networking technologies as well as traditional live dissemination events; a blog will be included on the project website with cross-dissemination via Twitter, an approach that has been carried out very successfully for previous projects at Leeds Met – see and Members of the project team will use the blog to report progress and engage in discussion around project aims and objectives, milestones, any challenges the project might meet, and any other project activities.

The project team also has established links with the Repository Support Project (RSP) and is represented on the committee of the UK Council of Research Repositories (UKCoRR) an independent body for repository managers, administrators and staff in the UK that provides a forum for discussion and exchange of experience and represents the views and concerns of those who work with repositories in organisational, policy and strategic development. Both organisations hold regular meetings and events which will provide valuable dissemination opportunities.

Opportunity will also be sought to contribute to relevant publications. Project Officer Nick Sheppard has already published a detailed summary in Ariadne of the “Learning How to Play Nicely: Repositories and CRIS” event examining integrated, systemic approaches to research information management organised by the Welsh Repository Network and supported by JISC and ARMA at Leeds Metropolitan University in May 2010.



Previous experience of the project team


Learning How to Play Nicely: Repositories and CRIS

My report on the “Learning How to Play Nicely: Repositories and CRIS” event organised by the Welsh Repository Network and supported by JISC and ARMA back in May has now been published:

JIF10 at Royal Holloway

I’m not sure I was fully aware of the memory until I wandered past the Earth Sciences Building at Royal Holloway last Wednesday that it was in that very building that I first experienced the internet in 1994. I was a feckless undergraduate with little interest in technology having recently grown out of side-scrolling shoot ’em ups on my Commodore Amiga.  I had a scientist friend, however, a Geologist, who seemed excited by it and took us into the lab to surf the nascent world wide web.  I have no idea what spec of machinery we would have been using at that time.  Or browser.  Would it have been Mosaic back then or did Netscape come on the scene fairly quickly?  Anyway, I don’t think I was terribly impressed and soon wandered off for a game of pool and did not, so far as I recall, re-visit cyberspace for the rest of my university career.  At some point in the intervening years, of course, along with several billion others, I did venture back onto the Web (it’s got much better) until I found myself back at RHUL with JISC for their Innovation Forum 2010; on the down-side I no longer have much time for pool.

I arrived bright and early on Wednesday morning to set up my exhibition stand and was particularly looking forward to speaking with Alison Pope who had invited me to look at Equella which Royal Holloway have recently implemented to manage the full range of digital resources including OA research and learning objects – a set of use-cases not too dissimilar to Leeds Met.  It is interesting that, like intraLibrary, Equella was originally designed as a Learning Object repository and, like intraLibrary, this heritage is evident in Equella being an authenticated system (does this, perhaps, reflect how quickly the zeitgeist has now shifted towards open educational content not just OA research?)  We get round the issue, of course, with our Open Search interface utilising SRU, whereas both RHUL and Oxford Brookes automatically log visitors into Equella as guest-users.

I had several conversations throughout the conference around the nature of “blended” repositories like ours; although institutional repositories increasingly store different types of resources and may have an implicit remit to manage the full range of digital material, it’s still far from the norm, I think, for them to be explicitly tailored to multiple collection types and browsing OpenDoar, under “content”, the majority still list “Articles; References; Conferences; Theses; Books” though some do include “Learning Objects”, “Multimedia” or “Special” (how many of these are aspirational rather than fully operational services?)  To my knowledge, in addition to ourselves and Royal Holloway, Oxford Brookes are developing a blended repository with their RADAR project (also using Equella after shelving intraLibrary).  Coventry have also implemented Equella for their CURVE project though I think currently for research material only.

(N.B.  The EPrints crowd are coming at the OER from the other direction with Edshare and HumBox, bespoke implementations of the de facto OA research platform.)

The first session I attended was Thunderbolt and Lightning, an Open-Mic session run by the inimitable @dfflanders to share the “big thunderbolts” in institutions today (all sessions from JIF10 are summarised on Cloudworks and there is a Twitter archive at  The great thing about JISC events is the different styles of discussion that are encouraged and while, personally, I find the lightening talk format exhausting (and that’s just listening) it’s certainly an effective way to rapidly share a lot of information and generate (preliminary) discussion.  Lightening talks included Rufus Pollack from the Open Knowldge Foundation and Cambridge University on open data and content, Steve Hitchcock from Southampton on why it’s still too hard for people to put things in repositories and Sarah Porter on the fact that we need a collaborative university network, not a competitive one.  For a live blog of the session see

I missed the first afternoon session as I was having a guided tour of Equella after which I had half an hour to kill so took a trip down memory lane back to Kingswood, the halls of residence where I stayed in my first year before rejoining my fellow delegates for a panel discussion “The Impact of Open: transformational possibilities for education and research”.  The session was chaired by Craig Wentworth (JISC Programme Director – Organisation and User Technologies) and the panel were Rufus PollockRoss GardlerHelen Beetham, Sal Cooke and Hugh Look.  See for a blog-post from the session.

The evening was given over to dinner and (for some) dancing – an opportunity for social and professional relationships to be cemented before rest and another packed schedule on day 2…which began with a search for bacon and eggs, as hapless JISC folk (one or two a little green around the gills – possibly correlated with those that had been dancing but this is just a hypothesis) finding themselves in a breakfast hubbub of Italian teenagers before being herded downstairs by events staff to our own more sedate dining environment.

I had intended to visit as many of the project showcases and demos, some of which I was already aware of and some which were new to me.  In the end, however, my day was rather more tangential and I never got round to seeing all sorts of interesting stuff that I shall at some point try to follow up online, in particular, One Share (University of Southampton) and Xpert (University of Nottingham) which though I missed the demo, I have, in fact, liaised with already in the context of RSS aggregation for ukoer (see  I was also able to speak with Pat Lockley from the project who told me that Xpert can now harvest OAI-PMH as well as RSS – after a little bit of hacking this week on Pat’s part, all Unicycle material has now been harvested from the Leeds Met repository into Xpert (will try to blog this in more detail at some point).

I did manage to make it to the MIMAS stand and speak with Amanda Hill of the Names Project and to man named Vic about the Intute repository search demonstrator which I was interested to learn will be developed further (last I heard development was suspended.)  Having not been to the site for quite a while, it was gratifying to see that searching for “ukoer” returns 146 results from just 3 repositories and 144 of them are from Leeds Met (though there are in fact 279 resources in our repository tagged ukoer so I’m not sure what’s happened to the other 135 – perhaps we haven’t been harvested for a while?).  The other small issue from my perspective is that research results are not always displayed properly which is an artifact of the fact that intraLibrary is based on IEEE LOM and I’ve used multiple description fields to accommodate ISSN/published/refereed.

I really hope the Names project continues to make progress and I would urge the community to get behind this project which has developed a prototype to tackle the thorny problem of name disambiguation – an issue in all sorts of online domains, especially repositories.  There is a blog of the session that I missed at and you can see the prototype and search for names (harvested from Scopus I think) at

In the afternoon there’s a rather jolly Dragon’s Den style session where 3 presenters pitch their innovative ideas to a panel of JISC Dragons who opt, 3 to 1, for Mark “bearded Dave” Stiles’ (call me Dave) Cameron inspired Big Education idea, the audience, however, disagree (this is a democracy after all) and it’s a land slide for Yorick Wilks’ possibly-cuddly-artificially-intelligent research companion to help the academic drudge sift through the crushing weight of online information.  Dave the Librarian’s idea (something about libraries being an interchange where learning and teaching takes place) gets limited support from either the dragons or the audience – all seemingly persuaded by the ConDems that libraries aren’t really necessary at all in the broadband age – and he is dismissed by one of the dragons (clearly relishing her role) because libraries are just “glorified coffee shops”… ‘we just need a virtual library”…”people only go to libraries because the wifi is free.”

The final keynote is delivered by Professor John Potter on the subject of leadership and which causes one or two heckles to rise – personally I’m inclined to agree with @ambrouk who found sentiments like “give your people a sense of purpose”, and “people copy what they see” somewhat patronising and argued on her blog that, rather, the world of HE is a “world of intelligent people who don’t need leading, they just need managing, as in, given the time, space and mandate to do things.”

That is certainly true of many of the colleagues I engaged with over two enjoyable days – people, in fact, that “work” as they play, sharing information and ideas.  Innovating.

JISC Innovation Forum 2010 (JIF2010)

I’m exhibiting at JIF2010 next week at Royal Holloway University of London and looking forward to it, not least for reasons of nostalgia as I graduated from RHUL in 1996 (BA English Lit) and haven’t really been back in over a decade.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t the most conscientious of students, exhibiting at the time a degree of post-adolescent rebellion and fancying myself as some sort of undergraduate libertine (if we re-define libertine as someone who stays in bed all day and drinks a bit too much beer).

While it’s all too easy to cast a repository manager as Byronic Hero (revolt against society, pursuit of individual goals, romantic expression and the constant experience of strong emotion)  I now get up early and have worked considerably harder over the past 3 years (nearly) on our various JISC projects at Leeds Met than for my degree and arguably know more about Open Access and repositories than I ever did about the canon of English Literature – there’s a lesson here I think – if you don’t work hard at University you might end up as an (un-Byronic) repository manager!

Our JISC projects, in chronological order, are the Repository Start-up itself, Streamline, PERSoNA, Unicycle and Bibliosight and Dawn has put together a fantastic poster for my exhibition stand featuring a time-line and showing how these 5 projects relate to one another – it also includes our current ACErep project which is funded by HEFCE rather than JISC but which very much builds on our JISC supported projects (click for larger image):

Unicycle final report

The final report for the Unicycle project is now available, along with  supporting documentation, from (direct link for the report is

The report is also available from the JISC website pages for Unicycle