KAPTUR – commencing countdown…

This is our update for KAPTUR for December and January with just over two months of the project left to go!

WP1: Project Management

  • The project team met on the 11th December at Goldsmiths, University of London. This was the first team meeting with the new-in-post UAL Project Officer, Sarah Mahurter, Manager of the University Archives and Special Collections Centre.
  • Just before Christmas the KAPTUR project team were delighted to officially welcome Andrew Gray as the new Goldsmiths Project Officer. Andrew had been able to attend the meeting on 11th December as this was scheduled with his interview for the post. Andrew was previously Project Officer at the University of the Arts London working on the JISC Kultur (2007-09) project.
  • The KAPTUR Steering Group meeting was held on Tuesday 8th January and included interactive sessions on sustainability and benefits arising from the project. Presentations and the worksheets are available from: http://www.slideshare.net/kaptur_mrd/tag/steering-group
  • The project team will be meeting in London next week to review the development of the KAPTUR toolkits.

WP3: Technical Infrastructure

  • The Technical Manager has been in contact with Joss Winn, Project Manager of the University of Lincoln’s Orbital project about their work with CKAN. A meeting is scheduled for this month in Lincoln but may now have to be ‘virtual’ due to adverse weather conditions.
  • The Technical Manager has also been in contact with Mark Wainwright from the Open Knowledge Foundation regarding CKAN and a meeting was held in London on Tuesday 8th January.
  • The Technical Manager has received feedback from all the Project Officers regarding CKAN and along with previous feedback this will inform a case study on the technical aspects of the KAPTUR project.
  • The IT Costs document produced by Carlos is now publicly available (following testing at the four institutions): http://www.slideshare.net/kaptur_mrd/kaptur-it-costs-public
  • The Project Officers are currently in the process of uploading visual arts research data to the EPrints pilot system.

WP4: Modelling

  • As previously mentioned, the University of the Arts London policy is available here: http://www.arts.ac.uk/research/data-management/
  • Goldsmiths, University of London have had their policy approved; as senior management advised during the working group discussions, it is an amendment to their existing Records Management policy and is available from: http://www.gold.ac.uk/research-data/
  • The University for the Creative Arts policy requires academic board approval, however it has been made available to all staff via the following link: http://www.ucreative.ac.uk/research_governance
  • The Glasgow School of Art is expected to be approved at their Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee meeting in February.
  • The four policies will be made available through DCC in due course and will also be linked to from the KAPTUR Outputs page.

WP5: Training and Support

  • As mentioned previously, the UAL workshop has been completed – further details and a list of attendees is available here: http://ualrdm-eorg.eventbrite.co.uk/ Presentations are available online here: http://www.slideshare.net/kaptur_mrd/tag/ualrdmtraining
  • The University for the Creative Arts held their workshop last week, including a session looking at definitions of visual arts research data and another session on creating an AHRC Technical Plan. The presentations are available from: http://www.slideshare.net/kaptur_mrd/tag/ucardmtraining
  • The Glasgow School of Art training workshop will take place next week on 31st January with the assistance of Laura Molloy, JISCMRD Evidence Gatherer.
  • In late November, before the previous Goldsmiths Project Officer left, a session was held focusing on the Library’s role in Research, however the official training workshop has been rescheduled. The new Goldsmiths Project Officer, in post from January, will arrange this to take place in early February.
  • Benchmarking feedback is being gathered from participants to each workshop as well as from the Project Officers themselves, this will then lead to refinements of the KAPTUR training plan and also an online training version in the form of the KAPTUR toolkits.

WP6: Evaluation and Sustainability

  • The four case studies from the Project Officers are in draft stage.
  • Following feedback on the KAPTUR Benefit’s slide [produced for the JISCMRD Benefits programme event in Bristol, 29th-30th November] an additional case study will be completed by the Technical Manager. The project team commented that this had been a real benefit to the partner institutions as they wouldn’t have had the resources to do this work themselves without the KAPTUR project.

WP7: Dissemination


Kaptur – five months into the project

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

WP1: Project Management

  • consortium agreement – waiting for the fourth institution to sign
  • steering group meeting held (presentations available on SlideShare), minutes circulated, blog post

WP2: Environmental Assessment

  • as reported previously, this phase is completed, although it is also feeding into the Technical Infrastructure phase
  • environmental assessment report – this has gone through a series of iterations and we have received very positive feedback; it will be available from early next week to download: UCA Research Online
  • the implementation plan was part of the original draft, and presented at the Steering Group meeting, but was then removed for clarity, and will now be made available as a series of blog posts this week

WP3: Technical Infrastructure

  • The Technical Manager has met and interviewed IT staff from three institutions.
  • In addition the four Project Officers have been involved in providing feedback on the technical requirements originating from the 16 interviews with visual arts researchers (from the Environmental Assessment phase).
  • Last week the first draft of the Technical Analysis report was sent to the Principal Investigator and Co-Investigator.
  • The Technical Manager is installing DataBank and DataStage for requirements testing and comparison with other software.

WP4: Modelling

  • The Project Officers have been contacting and meeting a range of stakeholders from across their institutions, and also working with the Project Sponsors.
  • One institution has established a working group which will meet every 4-6 weeks; another institution has established a working group due to meet in early April.
  • The other two institutions are in the process of forming their working groups, including identifying relevant stakeholders.

WP7: Dissemination

4. Issues/challenges

The past month was about transition, so there were a variety of challenges!

The environmental assessment report was drafted last month, but following the Steering Group meeting it went through a series of iterations which took longer than expected, and it has also been verified by the 16 interviewees.

The relationships built up during WP2: Environmental Assessment are leading into WPs 3 and 4; however as we are in the process of getting the working groups together this is naturally throwing up a lot of questions and queries from all parties.

The Project Sponsors have been very engaged with Kaptur and they have been working closely with the Project Officers.

All Project Officers, and the Technical Manager, have now attended the excellent Digital Curation Centre (DCC) Roadshows. This has provided us with a solid base to move onwards with the aims of Kaptur, however the next challenge is to grow that same awareness amongst the stakeholders at each institution. The following DCC Research data policy briefing (PDF) document is being used as a starting point for discussion for WP4: Modelling. This was discovered through a DCC blog post by Sarah Jones (December 2011).

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 – three months into the project (1/6)

One sixth of the way through Kaptur, and this is our update for the third month:

1. Project Outputs

  • consortium agreement – in process of being signed (delays due to Christmas, this is now expected before the end of January)

2. Environmental Assessment

  • The 16 one-hour recorded interviews have now been transcribed. Each Project Officer has been reviewing the transcripts, marking them up and checking that they are anonymised in order to collaboratively analyse on Monday 9th and Tuesday 10th January 2012.

3. Dissemination

4. Issues/challenges

December is always a challenging month (due to leave and tying up loose ends) which is why we pressed ahead with the project work so quickly during October and November. During December we continued to build links with other projects, the DCC, and internationally at the IDCC conference. The biggest issue was making sure everything was in place for the data analysis to occur in early January including the transcripts and venue. We will be meeting at Goldsmiths, University of London and a blog post will follow here regarding our analysis.

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.