Kaptur interviews with visual arts researchers

Further to a blog post written after our last team meeting on 31st October (Environmental Assessment interview questions); the project team then agreed on a final version of the interview questions as well as an overall methodology and approach. The Kaptur Project Officers have now carried out 13 one-hour recorded interviews between them, with an additional 3 interviews occurring this week and next. This then leaves the rest of December for the marking up of the transcriptions and data analysis at an institutional level i.e. each Project Officer analysing their own four transcripts; and including further reading and following-up on the literature review in this area. We are all getting engaged with the area of research data by attending events and then feeding back to each other (and the wider community) through blog posts.

We are next scheduled to meet on 9th and 10th January for two days of intensive data analysis in order to form our views into one holistic Environmental Assessment across the four institutions. Already indications are that there has been a lot of variety within each institution, but from a discussion of findings so far there do also appear to be themes that are emerging and some suggestions of the appropriate language we can use in engaging visual arts researchers.

We are also engaging with other stakeholders at the institutions, in particular the Research Offices, and the Kaptur Project Sponsors. It is very important to us to have input from visual arts researchers throughout the whole project so that the work of the environmental assessment, whilst it underpins the next stages, is certainly not the end of user engagement and we have a few ideas on how to take this onwards.


Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Preservation, 21st November 2011

Wills Hall, University of Bristol

Wills Hall, University of Bristol. Photo: VADS

The following blog post has been compiled from personal notes as well as from my own tweets on the day (@MTG_work), where content from other tweets have been referenced these are indicated in brackets.

The ‘Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Preservation‘ briefing day was held at Wills Hall, University of Bristol, hosted by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and JISC Digital Media.

The nature of the problem, Andrew Charlesworth, Bristol University
Charlesworth began on a positive note ‘everyone likes digital preservation’, or in general most people see it as a positive thing with the exception of the EU’s ‘right to be forgotten’. He provided a powerful image of digital preservation as ‘Bambi’; the following image was of a snake squeezing a cute deer – representing IPR squeezing digital preservation. There is a need for copyright law to acknowledge a clear role for digital preservation. Some of the issues are that the law is out-of-date and there are limited incentives for policy makers to change the law. However the public benefit is clear, for example allowing access to data in the field of medicine (Ref: @copyrightgirl). The Copyright Design and Patents Act (CDPA) treats digital and non-digital formats differently and preservation copying is limited (Ref: @copyrightgirl). Due to limitations with the law we are set up to fail; it is restrictive and not practicable. Charlesworth also mentioned the example of the BBC Domesday project which highlights the problems of digital preservation (Ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/2534391.stm). Even if you follow best practice with metadata, how do you get it to ‘stick’? i.e. to stop it being stripped out?


The major issues around digital preservation are legal, technical and practical: how do you educate your end users/depositors?

Charlesworth spoke about the Hargreaves influence i.e. the UK economy is actually losing out because of the limitations of copyright law.

Andrew Charlesworth has been commissioned by the DPC with Neil Beagrie to produce a new Technology Watch Report on intellectual property rights and digital preservation; an outline is available to DPC members.

Issues of Ownership: case studies in depositing and licensing from the Wellcome Library, Chris Hilton, The Wellcome Library
Hilton showed a slide with the current Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model, and then reproduced the same workflow in its most basic delineation i.e. ‘get stuff’ etc… This produced a lot of laughs, but also had a serious point to make about what essentially archives are trying to do. Hilton talked about the ownership of digital content and the issues with proliferating copies; at the Wellcome Library they try and get around some of these issues by asking for ownership to be transferred at point of deposit i.e. to transfer title of ‘platonic digital original’ rather than ‘deposit a copy’ (Ref: @WilliamKilbride). This exclusivity clause is written into depositor agreements in order to limit risk of proliferating copies -there is more value in scarcity (Ref: @copyrightgirl). Some of the issues with how digital content is shown to readers in the Reading Room have not been resolved yet i.e. there need to be measures in place to avoid risk of proliferating copies. Hilton spoke about ’emotional ownership’, giving the example of a series of papers by Sir Charles Wilson (Lord Moran) (Ref: http://www.wellcome.ac.uk/News/2011/News/WTVM049653.htm). ‘Emotional ownership’ is a key archival soft skill, especially in working to allow digital access to archives. The Wellcome’s digitisation programme is acting as a test bed, nothing under ten years old will be Web accessible, although there will be a few exceptions as appropriate. Hilton mentioned a paper written in Ariadne titled ‘Trust me I’m an Archivist‘; there is this concept of building trust.

Case study 2: legalities, migration and emulation, David Anderson, KEEP Project, University of Portsmouth
Anderson raised the issue of ‘reputation’ with regards to digital preservation – no organisation wants to be seen to be breaking the law (Ref: @copyrightgirl). The KEEP project used emulation as a digital preservation strategy as they wanted to keep project tools and services clearly within the law. Anderson provided an overview of information society directives and mentioned the Berne three-step test.


The exceptions to copyright across the EU Directives are really fragmented: no wonder EC are thinking about a unified Copyright Code

Anderson spoke about multimedia works: there is no clear legal definition, they are seen as complex works which means a work acquires the protection of the most strongly protected part. Anderson asked: what about the digital preservation of the Technical Measures of Protection (TMP) itself? as the TMP can be removed prior to deposit in some cases.

Case study 3: group discussion and practical exercise, JISC Digital Media
This was a good activity led by John Hargreaves in which we broke up into four groups to read a complex case study of a digital project. Each group discussed how they would advise the project to proceed regarding IPR and copright; one group amusingly said ‘don’t do the project’; in fact this was an anonymised case study taken from a real life project.

Escrow services for long term access: emerging trends and issues, Barbara Kolany, ITM, Muenster University
It was very interesting to hear about Escrow agreements, something which I got the impression was quite new to most people. An Escrow is a contract which is held by a third party, and could be used to enable long term access to digital content in a variety of circumstances. Kolany provided the example of three parties who might use an Escrow: a software developer (or licensor); a user of the software (or licensee); and an Escrow agent – the Escrow agent would verify and deposit the sourcecode – the user would have access to the sourcecode through the Escrow agent. One benefit for the user is that the software developer cannot remove the deposit material without first letting them know. An Escrow is also good for risk management as it can set out contractually what will happen if the software developer (or licensor) becomes insolvent, and thereby support ongoing access to the software/services. The nature of the Escrow contract depends on who is defined as the owner of the deposit material; this can be any one of the parties. Escrow agreements are flexible and can be used for software, databases, website, and data, including cloud computing services.

Link: Timeless Business sponsored by EC Directorate for Information Society (TIMBUS)

Emerging Trends: Let’s All Meet Up in 2015 – what will IPR for digital preservation look like then, Jason Miles Campbell, JISC Legal
The Hargreaves Review shows that the government recognise we need change in order to drive our economy, but there is still a need to establish business models that work. There was discussion about the benefits and issues with establishing a Digital Copyright Exchange (DCE) – and the day after the DPC/JISC Digital Media event the following was published by the Intellectual Property Office: http://www.ipo.gov.uk/hargreaves-copyright
William Kilbride asked Campbell what was top of his list – the answer was ‘orphan works’. In the words of @copyrightgirl:

2039 for expiration of copyright in unpublished works is crazy, would solve a lot of issues if Term Directive implemented properly

Some of the themes that were being discussed then fed directly into the panel discussion which Campbell was actively involved in.

Link: JISC Legal – Legal Guidance for ICT Use in Education, Research and External Engagement

Panel session and discussion, William Kilbride (DPC)

  • Risk management – issues with institutional reputation and bond of trust, also no-one wants to be a test-case
  • Being risk adverse is not always a good thing, it is a question of balance (risk management)
  • Are the Government setting an example with their Open Data i.e. it is not always properly checked and of high quality but they are putting it out there
  • Linked data was mentioned in terms of issues with IPR; although it seems this is more of a problem with too many levels of metadata being stacked on top of each other; linked datasets can be described with VoID Vocabularies (Ref: http://www.w3.org/TR/void/)

Kaptur poster for JISCMRD and IDCC11

Kaptur poster

Kaptur Poster/Banner

The full-size poster has a visible link to full image credits: http://vads.ac.uk/kaptur/publicity/

Simon Hodson, JISC MRD Programme Manager has asked all projects to produce a poster for the Start Up Programme meeting taking place in Nottingham, 1st-2nd December. We have also been invited to present these at the 7th International Digital Curation Conference next week in Bristol, our 1-minute-madness PowerPoint slide (SlideShare) is available here:

It was decided to produce the poster in the form of a roller banner as we hope this is something that can be re-used at more than one event. The design is aimed to generate discussion with the questions; this is also the reason why the image credits do not appear directly on the poster itself (image credits are available here: http://vads.ac.uk/kaptur/publicity/).


What is Kaptur?

  • Kaptur is a highly collaborative research project with four institutional partners: Glasgow School of Art; Goldsmiths, University of London; University for the Creative Arts (UCA); and University of the Arts London. Kaptur is led by the Visual Arts Data Service, a Research Centre of UCA, and funded by the JISC Managing Research Data Programme from Monday 3rd October 2011 to Friday 29th March 2013.

Specifically, we are one of 17 projects funded by JISC, described on the Managing Research Data Programme 2011-13 Web page as:

17 large institutional projects will help universities pilot or further develop and extend infrastructures for research data management as part of an institutional mission to provide high quality support for research. They will also be developing institutional or departmental research data management policies and guidance materials.

Why Kaptur?
The answer to ‘why Kaptur?’ is something addressed in detail through the project proposal, written by Leigh Garrett, VADS Director. In very basic terms (but we are happy to elaborate!):

  • to investigate the nature of visual arts research data building on the work of previous JISC MRD projects and the work of the DCC
  • to support visual arts researchers through institutional infrastructure, focusing on the four institutional partners but also producing outputs that can be re-used and re-purposed by other UK institutions

How are we going to achieve this?

  • user engagement – this will be ongoing throughout the project, but also specifically relates to the first phase of environmental assessment which will inform the implementation plan
  • modelling – drafting institutional data management policies
  • technical structure – producing pilot research data management systems
  • training and support for visual arts researchers
  • sustainability – business and sustainability plans to continue the work of Kaptur at the four institutions, after the end of the project and beyond

The images on the poster/banner show:

  • some concrete examples of visual arts research data
  • examples of research data generated through our own Kaptur project
  • the sheer volume of some research data e.g. contact prints for photographs – selection and storage issues
  • the blurring of boundaries between visual arts research data and visual arts research outputs
  • the space in which research data is generated

UCA Research Supervisor Training, 16th-17th November 2011

The Art Workers' Guild

The Art Workers' Guild, London

The Kaptur Project Director and Kaptur Project Manager attended the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Research Supervisor Training at The Artworker’s Guild in London. As the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), is a Research Centre of UCA, we hope to meet the requirements for Research Supervision in the future, and this training course is one compulsory component of this. In addition the two days training were extremely useful for the immediate needs of the Kaptur project.

The training provided a good overview of the requirements of research staff when they supervise PhD students including the various roles and responsibilities across UCA as well as timings throughout the year. This will benefit Kaptur in terms of adding to the list of stakeholders at UCA; discussing and comparing these with the other Kaptur partner institutions; deciding upon the nature and timing of the training and support that will be provided as part of the Kaptur project. For example UCA have recently started to host an event for Research Supervisors that takes place in parallel to the induction event for Research students; the Supervisors attend their own event and then meet up with the students for discussion during the lunchtime session. The Research Degree Committee meets four times a year in September, December, February, and May/June; there are sub-committees, such as for Ethics. Advanced Research Methods training for students is held in November and February, and there are 8 Graduate Forums each year. In addition to in-house tools and services, the Vitae Researcher Development Framework was also discussed.

VADS is situated within the Library and Learning Services (LLS) department at UCA, and several colleagues from LLS are involved in Research support in addition to our colleagues in the Research Office, such as writing workshops led by Study Advisors. It was very useful to learn more about the individual specific roles and responsibilities and this will mean that Kaptur’s efforts can be more targeted in the future. It was also useful to chat to Academic staff, several of whom were very experienced and attending the event as a refresher course.

Finally, the intellectual discussion amongst colleagues opened up another dimension in terms of terminology with artistic research. This is a topic which has been of interest particularly since the JISC funded Kultivate project and is one which the project team has been discussing in relation to managing visual arts research data. The Project Team have already encountered difficulties in terms of terminology in using the term ‘research data’ when speaking about the Kaptur project to others, and we hope that the interviews (which the Project Officers are currently undertaking) will serve to illuminate the views of the visual arts researchers and perhaps provide us with some alternative terms we can use. The UCA Director of Research and Enterprise used the carefully considered phrase ‘Research in the space of art and design’ rather than ‘practiced-based’ or ‘practice-led’ research, due to the different meanings that can be associated with those terms. Other presenters mentioned concepts, models, and philosophies including French philosophers Jacques Rancière, Jacques Derrida, and Jean Baudrillard.

Other considerations

  • Research students can view a PhD as ‘about improving their practice’ but that is not the aim, although this may be a consequence – there is a danger that students can hold back thinking their artwork has to be a ‘masterpiece’
  • We talked about ‘taking risks’ and some interesting stories were shared; particularly in terms of how the body of work is presented as a thesis and the relationship of practice to a written thesis component
  • There is a role for logs and notebooks to inform and evidence working methods
  • Ethical issues require approval from the Institution’s Ethics Committee before research takes place. This includes plagiarism (NB: Spot the Difference, a JISC funded project is researching ‘visual plagiarism’) there are also considerations of how the data will be stored.
  • Of particular relevance to Kaptur, the following document was discussed: AHRC support for Practice-led research through our Research Grants – practice-led and applied route (RGPLA)

    We expect all of our research projects to have some form of documentation of the
    research process, which usually takes the form of textual analysis or explanation to
    support the research’s position and to demonstrate critical reflection.

    One of the presenters provided a really useful analogy: ‘some form of’ documentation compared to going on a walking holiday and suggesting you bring ‘some form of’ shoes. Lots to think about and follow-up on afterwards!

Repositories Support Project, Autumn School 2011

The following blog post has been written by Anne Spalding, Kaptur Project Officer, University for the Creative Arts, who attended the event in her role as Repository and Digitisation Officer for UCA Research Online.

Disclaimer: The views and comments expressed here are the author’s interpretation of events. See further information http://www.rsp.ac.uk/events/autumn-school/

Day 1 Monday 7th November 2011
I left home on Monday morning in eager anticipation of the RSP Autumn School at Miskin Manor near Cardiff. Three hours later I arrived ready for lunch and keen to start absorbing information on Open Access (OA) as well as meeting up with colleagues.

After an ice breaker activity of ‘autograph bingo’ where all the delegates found out more about each other, David Prosser, Executive Director of RLUK gave the keynote address on ‘Bringing the emphasis back to OA’. It is encouraging to note that over the last decade the number of institutional repositories (IRs) has increased. However there are still barriers and uncertainty in the area of IPR. Growth in mandates has been rapid and mandates from funders have a key role to play in encouraging authors to deposit their work in IRs. David left us with the thought that we should not only be looking at UK developments OA but to Europe and beyond.

Sarah Molloy and Marie Cairney gave two practical experiences and perspectives on working with and developing IRs. The former expressing the view that advocacy about OA is tough and to keep momentum is going to be hard work. In spite of this it is vital to keep up the momentum and engage with researchers. Marie provided us with an insight into how OA works at the University of Glasgow. Key to success is publicising your efforts and showing the community what is going on with the IR.

Day 2 Tuesday 8th November 2011
The first half of the morning dealt with how statistics and their analysis can be used to promote IRs. Niamh Brennan urged us to ‘paint a picture’ and ‘tell a story’ with business intelligence and to make this visual. This was then followed by Robbie Ireland and Graham Triggs demonstrating the reporting features in Eprints, DSpace and Google Analytics. Jane Plenderleith and Theo Andrew via the wonders of Skype led a workshop on what we, as the IR managers would like from a national integrated and shared service for UK repositories.

During the afternoon there were updates on JISC funded projects, the RSP embedding guide – a new tool which is about to be launched, plus an update on other RSP projects. Robbie Ireland reported on how Glasgow is promoting OA in institutions and Laurian Williamson on the seven projects which are a part of the JISC RTE (Repository Take up and Embedding) programme. Josh Brown rounded off the afternoon with a workshop on demonstrating the benefits of OA.

Day 3 Wednesday 9th November 2011
Willow Fuchs gave an account of the findings of the Research Communications Strategy on Academic attitudes to Open Access and Repositories. One point raised was that as libraries do such a good job on providing a seamless service regarding access to information that users are led to believe all the information is free. It was suggested that perhaps libraries should have ‘no access’ weeks! This was followed by Bill Hubbard who highlighted the differences between weak and strong OA. IRs are currently operating in a complex environment providing many services, so are there too many goals for too few resources? What is our priority? Current Research Information Systems (CRIS) can be seen as an opportunity to return the emphasis of IRs to full text OA with the CRIS dealing with the bibliographic records. The final activity was a workshop designed to generate ideas for short, medium and long term goals for IRs.

As I left the conference re-focused, re-energised and re-motivated I felt privileged to have been a part of this remarkable group of people. I now have a long ‘to do’ list, plenty of food for thought and several ideas on how to move forward.

The DCC Roadshow in Cambridge, Day One

The following blog post has been written by Tahani Nadim, Kaptur Project Officer, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The sixth DCC Roadshow on data management, organized in conjunction with Cambridge University Library, began with DCC’s own Associate Director, Graham Pryor, highlighting the current big theme summarized by “3 Rs”: re-use, regeneration and repurposing of data. His talk focused on the scale and complexity of data generation in all sciences though, once more, the “hard” sciences received most attention with examples like the Large Hadron Collider (15 petabytes of data annually) and GenBank, the NCBI’s nucleotide sequence database (holding approx.130 billion bases in 140 million sequence records in the traditional GenBank divisions). Nathan Cunningham, of the British Antarctic Survey’s (BAS) Polar Data Centre, gave some very dazzling and dizzying examples of the range and complexity of data produced by the BAS – “data bling” and “Disney science” as he called it. Some of the challenges faced by Cunningham and colleagues relate to turning unstructured into structured data; describing data in such a way as to make it discoverable and useable; and, importantly, finding ways to automate this.

For Cunningham, so-called data “mash-ups” (combining data on e.g. sea surface temperature, feeding routes of penguins, chlorophyll levels or high-resolution sea ice images) provide decision-making tools as well as diagnostic tools. David Shotton, a cell biologist turned bioinformatics guru, made very similar arguments for the biosciences. Introducing a host of data curation projects, particularly focused on digital imaging, Shotton pointed to reasons why many researchers still do not publish their data: information and work overload; pressure for financial viability (to get money for their departments); cognitive overheads and skills barriers. The latter was also very clear from Cuningham’s presentation: data curation requires specialised knowledge of the date-generating discipline and can more than often not be ‘delegated’.

The presentations by Pryor, Cunningham and Shotton left little doubt about the fact that data sets are becoming the new instruments of science and establishing new ways of working (e.g.  collaborative modelling in global virtual laboratory as done in the neurosciences in the CARMEN project) but this poses a number of critical questions for researchers and institutions alike: Who will analyse all this data and how? Is digital data the new special collections? Regarding regulation, Pryor noted that in some cases, for example in the case of European IP laws, regulation actively obstructs data sharing as well as digital preservation. Pryor voiced concerns about the handling of data management requirements amongst research councils’ policies, pointing in particular at the EPSRC’s timescale and vague language.

In terms of providing access to this data, Pryor introduced some commendable initiatives such as the Panton Principles as well as open science applications such as the Citizen Science Alliance. Again, open data throws up a lot of questions: How to be “open” but also how far to go with being “open”? What are the incentives for being “open”? How to handle sensitive data (particularly in the biomedical sciences)? One study on the current handling of research data mentioned by Pryor, the Incremental project, was later described in more detail by Elin Stangeland of University of Cambridge’s DSpace repository. A JISC-funded collaboration between Cambridge and the University of Glasgow the project produced a scoping study before drawing together guidance and support literature, provding training in data curation and creating audiovisual learning resources.

A different perspective was offered by Dr Anne Alexander. Actually, a doubly different perspective since this presentation came from a researcher in the humanities. Alexander’s research focuses on Middle Eastern politics, particularly the labour movements and similar political movements in the region. Her current project, which looks at the Egyptian revolution, demonstrates the dramatic transformation in data resources she engages with. Commencing her presentation with an image of her usual data such as notes, newsletter, newspapers as well as analogue tapes, the remaining part of her talk is accompanied by Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, YouTube videos and other social media platforms. Alexander argued that the political landscape has radically taken in the novel spaces offered by social media: the strike committee of sugar refinery workers in Egypt, the strike committee of doctors in Egypt as well as the ruling military council have Facebook pages which are actively enrolled in their respective political practices.

The problems faced by the researcher are plentiful: How to capture (save, store, make discoverable etc) not just the discrete data entity (the tweet, the video, the picture, the status update, etc.) but the context, that is, the comments, the other “recommended” or “related” content and other dynamically created relations and objects. Another issue pertains to the difference between public and published: pulling comments made by activists against authorities out of the digital realm (e.g. a Facebook wall) and committing them to paper and/or circulating them by other means and routes poses serious ethical questions. Equally confounding is the problem of “ownership” raised in the discussion: If everything is owned by Facebook – what is a researcher to do?

In conclusion, Alexander suggested that it is not helpful to think of the Internet as an infinite archive. This gives us a false sense of security. Instead, researchers need to acquire archival skills.

Kaptur – one month into the project

The following blog post is based on a report submitted to Simon Hodson, JISCMRD Programme Manager, on Friday 4th November:

1. Project Outputs

2. Additional Outputs

  • Project Officers carried out 8 probing interviews, a report is available
    from Tahani Nadim, Goldsmiths, University of London, here:
    The purpose of the interviews was to inform the environmental assessment.

  • A Kaptur Google calendar was created in order to provide a central location for project activities, this will include the workpackage dates soon. It currently includes events we are attending.
  • A SlideShare account was created because this is a good way to record impact and disseminate project outputs.
  • John Murtagh, University of the Arts London Project Officer, created a Kaptur Facebook page again to try and maximise our dissemination networks.

3. Dissemination

  • Press release via JISCMail lists
  • Press release via lead institution’s website and via press contacts
  • Press releases at each individual institution customised with quotes from their senior management
  • Blog posts and tweets
  • Project Director visit to DCC and EDiNA
  • Project Manager visit to attend RDMF7

4. Issues/challenges
It is very positive that we did not need to recruit anyone in order to form the Project Team, however we have had to spend the past month trying to clarify roles and responsibilities with the regard to the number of days that each of us are working on Kaptur and also considering how this work relates to other duties and how we can maximise our resources that way.