Personal Engagement with Repositories through Social Networking Applications

Moving forward…

Posted by Nick on July 10, 2008

On the back of the Emerge presentation, and as an earlier adjunct to the Streamline meeting, a group of us sat down on Tuesday to review PERSoNA and think about precisely what tools the project needs to deliver.

A question:

Should we be looking at a web tool that facilitates appropriate social networking and resource sharing that sits outside the repository rather than embed tools within intraLibrary itself?

John began by sketching a very rough outline of the repository projects; I have taken this diagram and tried to flesh it out to more fully represent my own conception of what we are aiming at with our interlinked projects:

This approach to PERSoNA would allow intraLibrary to be configured simply as a repository that we can annexe to our web tool – whatever that may be.

Note: Might a potential problem with this approach be integration with the Web 2.0 technologies and personalisation tools already present in intraLibrary 3.0 (RSS, rating system, user comments, add to favourites)?

Anyway, if this should be the approach that we follow, the crucial questions are perhaps:

  • What sort of tool or tools would be useful enough so that people would naturally engage with them?
  • How could the use of such a tool or tools promote use of the repository?

One idea is to somehow embed the repository and its peripheral infrastructure (i.e. the PERSoNA tool) into the scholarly workflow such that deposit/discovery/sharing of resources is fully integrated into the process of writing and publishing a research paper or producing/repurposing a learning object.

Note: Other projects are exploring similar themes: The EMBED project at Cranfield University aims “to increase understanding of how repositories can be used to support research and learning, integrating them fully into academic processes.”

Dawn suggested a WIKI as a possible solution: it allows collaboration – often essential in research – and could in theory be used to write a research paper which could then automatically be deposited to the repository at the appropriate point in the workflow. Janet, however, was quick to point out that a while a WIKI may be useful to collaborate on research, it is not, in fact, an appropriate technology for writing a research paper citing lack of adequate version control as a major drawback.

Creative suggestions notwithstanding, I’m acutely aware that we really need more user input – what do academics actually want? I still think there is mileage in assessing individual web habits and other factors that contribute to workflow inertia – by interview perhaps?

Janet referred to a post-graduate project that might provide us with a useful opportunity; as I understand, a group of postgraduates hope to produce their own research journal and utilise a sort of informal peer review process to assess quality. Perhaps we can collaborate with the project; a potential user-group to help us develop a useful and usable virtual, social environment that facilitates easy deposit of appropriate material into the repository which is then made available as an e-journal.


2 Responses to “Moving forward…”

  1. John Gray said

    I think this is good summary of those discussions. With regard to some of the issue you raise one response would be that if Intrallect are working to extend the functionality of the repository to support research objects and open access and to make the structure of the repository visible for web access then can they allow web access to their ‘web 2’ style facilities? This would extend the range of impact of these tools beyond a single repository and possibly bring changes within the repository to the motice of a wider community.

    Your comment regarding how people use the web and the relationship between this and repositories is well taken. I think we need to offer people easy access to and relevant information from within a repository such that it has minimal effect on their workload and is seen as a useful and usable tool. Maybe a greater understanding of exactly what can be made visible outside the repository would help identify possibly benefits to staff?

  2. […] Posted by Nick on July 21, 2008 It is now established that we will be using the SRU interface developed by IRISS as the public search interface for the repository. I hope to install the current incarnation of the interface on a Leeds Met server very soon and two of my more technically adept colleagues are looking at the recently released code in order to scope the extent of the development work that will be required to incorporate advanced search and browse functionality. As this page will effectively be the repository by proxy (the URL that I have requested is – intraLibrary itself will require a different URL) we also need to think about what other elements it might need to comprise; authenticated log-in to intraLibrary itself (yet to be determined if this will be the appropriate route for self-archiving; it will certainly be one route but we may also need an authenticated link to a SWORD interface for example); About this repository; FAQs; Operational policies; Contact etc. It is also likely that this page will form the basis of – or at least link to – the PERSoNA web-tool(s). […]

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