Digital Curation Centre (DCC) Roadshow, Loughborough

With thanks to Anne Spalding, Kaptur Project Officer, University for the Creative Arts, for the following account of the DCC Roadshow in Loughborough.

It is now a week since I braved the snow to attend the DCC Roadshow at Loughborough University, my Alma Mater. On a personal note it was a welcome opportunity to relive many happy memories and wonder at the much changed campus.

The event was called ‘Institutional Challenges in the Data Decade’ and provided much food for thought. Overall the event gave an introduction to Research Data Management (RDM), showcased best practice in the East Midlands, and provided an opportunity to start planning RDM services for our own institutions.

Kevin Ashley, Director of DCC opened proceedings with an outline of the opportunities and challenges of managing data. He also observed that there is great opportunity to develop services for research.

The first day consisted of presentations and case studies of how institutions had set up systems to manage research data. It is clear that there are many different approaches to this task and knowing your institution and how it functions is key to success. One very useful tip is to establish what information is already available at an institution and what is needed with regard to research data management. Not doing this could lead to issues with FOI (Freedom of Information), compliance and impact with the REF (Research Excellence Framework). The day concluded with a presentation by Sarah Jones on what DCC can do to help and one of these is to help you build an RDM strategy.

Day two was a more practical approach when we worked both individually and in groups. Again Kevin Ashley opened the session with an overview of the day which in essence was to understand the basics of RDM and find out about DCC resources, tools and services. A key part of the day was about exchanging ideas, skills and expertise in our groups and to think about the RDM services needed at our institutions.

Through brief presentations followed by group work we conducted several activities designed to help us assess the current RDM situation at our own institutions. There was an opportunity for discussion and exchange of ideas as everyone was at a different stage in the development of RDM policies and strategies. By the end of the day we were able to develop a roadmap for RDM and consider the needs of our own institution and sketch a timeframe with actions.

All in all an invaluable experience, I came a way with a greater awareness of RDM, some ideas on what to do next and a long ‘to do’ list including several DCC publications to read.

Further information and downloads of the presentations can be viewed at


Kaptur Steering Group Meeting, 6th February 2012

On Monday we held our first Kaptur Steering Group meeting at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham. This was followed up with a meeting with Simon Hodson, JISCMRD Programme Manager in the afternoon. There are a lot of action points to follow up from both meetings and further blog posts will follow on some of these.

The presentations given on Monday are available from the Kaptur SlideShare page. As mentioned during the meeting, we are using SlideShare as a way to generate altmetrics for the project and also to ensure ease of access to outputs from Kaptur.

At the Steering Group meeting we were delighted to welcome high-level senior management and Project Sponsors from all four institutions; they were so engaged with Kaptur and keen to get involved to promote the project which was wonderful. Earlier this week I followed up one of the action points from the meeting which was to create a one-side Word document with headlines about Kaptur tailored particularly to the Project Sponsors role. This is to enable them to promote Kaptur more effectively within their institutions. [NB: The Steering Group members had previously received key points in terms of their roles and responsibilities, and the purpose of each steering group meeting when they were invited to join the Steering Group in October. This was followed up with a Steering Group Terms of Reference document a couple of months prior to the meeting.]

Simon Hodson recommended sending the Steering Group members a separate monthly lightweight report i.e. targeted to their needs as opposed to the report sent to Simon and blogged about overall project progress.

This week the Project Officers have been moving onto the next stage of the project – the modelling and technical workpackages – which run parallel and will involve the setting up of working groups at each institution to inform and support these stages. The working groups will continue to build on existing relationships established through the environmental assessment, as well as draw in the full spectrum of stakeholders i.e. IT, Library, Research Office, Researchers etc. The Kaptur Technical Manager has also been setting up meetings with IT at each institution as part of the work he is doing on the Technical Analysis.

Kaptur – four months into the project

This is our update for the end of the fourth month:

1. Project Outputs

  • consortium agreement – this has been signed by 3 out of 4 institutions (so nearly there!)
  • environmental assessment report – a draft version is available which will be published and promoted very soon

2. Environmental Assessment

  • This workpackage is now complete.

3. Technical Infrastructure

  • The Kaptur Technical Manager has written a methodology for the Technical Analysis report.
  • Meetings will be arranged very soon with key stakeholders at each institution.

4. Dissemination

  • This has been a relatively quiet month in terms of attending events, although Robin Burgess was part of the 7th Emergy Conference and his abstract, which is about applying Emergy accountancy to arts related data, is available from SlideShare.
  • The Kaptur Project Director submitted two conference abstracts.
  • The Project Officers have been working collaboratively in Google Docs to write up the Environmental Assessment report; our methodology is available on SlideShare as is the final version of our questionnaire.
  • The Project Manager has been working on the report and with the Project Officers and Technical Manager, also liaising with the Kaptur Steering Group in order to ensure that everything is in place for the first meeting on Monday 6th February 2012.

4. Issues/challenges

The focus this past month has been on analysing the data from the 16 interviews as well as writing the Environmental Assessment report. As part of this process the project team have been considering the research data that we ourselves have been creating. A blog post on this will be forthcoming.

The Technical Manager has begun work on the Kaptur project, and brings with him experience of managing and working on other visual arts projects. The project team have been thinking about how the work on the environmental assessment can be turned into reality with policies and technical infrastructure, as these are the next tasks to be tackled.

Methodology for the Environmental Assessment – shared

As discussed during the JISCMRD Programme Launch in Nottingham, projects thought it would be good to share what each one is doing regarding the Data Asset Framework (DAF) and/or gathering user needs, in order to see if it can be used/re-used by the other projects. We have been describing Kaptur’s approach, and the rationale for this approach, in a series of blog posts. Previous blog posts on this topic are available by searching the tag ‘environmental assessment‘, the two most relevant of these are: ‘Methodology for the Environmental Assessment‘; and ‘Environmental Assessment interview questions‘. Feedback is welcomed.

Kaptur is not using DAF, although we have considered what can be learned from the DAF approach. DAF provides institutions with a means to:

“identify, locate, describe and assess how they are managing their research data assets”

DAF Screencast

A fully comprehensive website is available: This includes the DAF Implementation Guide (PDF).

DAF recommend that you begin by deciding what you mean by ‘data assets’, for example they mention:

“numerical data, statistics, output from experimental equipment, survey results, interview transcripts, databases, images or audiovisual files, amongst other things”

DAF Implementation Guide (PDF) pp.7

Our initial probing interviews and research in the area of visual arts data tell us that we are not ready yet to pin this down to specific assets, although potentially all of the above could be included. One of the issues arising out of the probing interviews was the concept of what ‘research data’ was in the first place. We decided to undertake formal interviews to gather detailed qualitative information that could better inform Kaptur and help to build relationships with visual arts researchers at the four institutions. This approach, whilst not following DAF exactly, did also include questions that enabled information to be gathered about the types of data asset that researchers were producing and how they were being managed.

The scope of the Kaptur Environmental Assessment report has been defined in our methodology, which we make available for use and re-use:

Following the imminent publication of our report, the next stage is to establish working groups in each institution as a way to both continue the dialogue with the visual arts researchers and also to encompass a wider range of stakeholders. We have been looking at the CARDIO assessment tool, particularly as this is designed to “improve communication and understanding” between stakeholders. However this is normally used following a more formal data audit procedure, and therefore we may adapt the approach of CARDIO to suit our timescales and circumstances. For example there is a clear benefit to holding face-to-face meetings with all the stakeholders and this will take priority, however it may be that questions or elements of the CARDIO tool can be used to inform the agenda for these meetings. This is yet to be discussed, and will be raised at the Steering Group meeting on Monday as part of the Implementation Plan.

visual arts research data and ‘creation’

The first Kaptur Steering Group meeting will be held on Monday 6th February at University for the Creative Arts in Farnham. The Project Officers and Project Manager will present findings from the Environmental Assessment Report, which we will disseminate following feedback from the Group.

V & A Museum, London

Dale Chihuly's V&A Rotunda chandelier. Photo: MTG

The following quote is not in our report, but it does resonate with some of our own findings. It is taken originally from text on display in the Theatre and Performance Galleries at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. However credit is due to Katie of the JE SUIS UNE MONSTRE blog for making this available online:

“The process of creation differs from artist to artist but always springs from the premise that something must, could, or should be created.

Artists take inspiration from everywhere – literature, landscape, advertising, other works of art, political and historical events – so the process of creation and inspiration is cyclical.”

The blog also shows examples of visual arts research data as part of a ‘conversation with Amber Hards‘, a Knitwear Designer.