Live Data Project – First Project Board Meeting

We were pleased to receive comments and feedback from the first Live Data steering group on 21st January on the case studies we currently have in development, as well as our future plans. This blogpost is a short summary of current progress in the Live Data project and points of note from the meeting.

Progress

There are currently four case studies in the final stages of development, covering the Humanities, Social and Biological sciences. We are looking to recruit more case studies in mid-February; researchers interested in creating interactive visualisations should contact martin.hadley@it.ox.ac.uk.

The two case studies closest to completion have provided excellent opportunities to create template Shiny apps for interactive network and geographic analysis – these will be made available in the near future via the project website and Github.

We’re pleased to announce our pilot Drupal site now supports the embedding of iframes and will soon be populated with case studies and other demonstration visualisations from the project.

What’s in a name?

We are in the final stages of selecting the name for our visualisation service, the Live Data monicker is useful within the research facilitator/knowledge exchange networks but does not make clear to researchers that we are here as a resource to support a service.

Questions about our chosen visualisation services

The following considerations were highlighted as being concerns by the steering group:

  • Researchers need to understand the licenses attached to their visualisations on the cloud-based services we’re using, particularly in the case of Tableau Public that attaches a highly pervasive license
  • Backwards compatibility and version control options for visualisation services must be made clear to researchers before recommending solutions
  • The capability to print visualisations is extremely important to many researchers and the options available should be made clear in our training materials.

Alliances with other groups

There is some skepticism from a few researchers about the utility of interactive visualisations, that they detract or misrepresent research data – particularly with regard to how uncertainty is communication in charts and graphics. To assist in heading these concerns head on we are building stronger alliances with the following groups at Oxford:

  • Oxford’s Research Software Developer Network
  • Oxford’s Research Facilitator Network
  • Oxford’s Knowledge Exchange Network

Noting that during 2016 the latter two networks are merging, providing an excellent opportunity to include the Live Data project in cross-channel messaging opportunities to introduce the new network.

Future Networking/Presentation Events

The first Live Data Networking event in November was a run away success with standing room only, it was great to hear about the vast range of visualisation tools developed by researchers here at Oxford. For future events we would like to attract researchers who would like to visualise their own data, particularly those who have never considered visualisations as a communication means before.

To that end, our next event will be focused on interactive visualisations in the academic publishing world – what opportunities do publishers and the press provide to researchers and how best to take advantage of them.

Other developments

Open Data and Open Access continue to be hot topics in academia, the research councils and funding bodies across the world. The newly established Centre for Digital Scholarship in the Weston Library aims to facilitate the transformation of scholarly practice across the University of Oxford.

Posted in Live data, Projects | Leave a comment

Exploring Online Language Resources

A course in the IT Learning Programme at the University of Oxford in Hilary Term 2016 will explore how we can use online language datasets to explore language, history and culture. This course is the latest stage in the evolution of the ‘Corpus Linguistics’ course which has run for the past few years.

We now have at our fingertips huge amounts of language data in digital form, representing unprecedented opportunities for exploring and analysing language and discourse. How we can use the evidence of language usage in digital resources to draw conclusions about language, culture and society? Drawing on techniques and methods from corpus linguistics, this course will offer guidance on finding and evaluating digital sources, hands-on exercises to explore and analyse data, and some suggestions on how to assess, use and interpret evidence from digital sources.

Each session will focus on the exploration and analysis of a different corpus or dataset, with practical hands-on exercises for how to use the resource to find evidence to explore linguistic, socio-cultural and historical research questions. Participants are free to attend the whole course or individual sessions, although there will be benefits, to beginners in particular, to attend the whole course and build week by week on the techniques and insights offered by each session. Prior registration with the online services described below will save time on the day.

1. BNCWeb – exploring a corpus of late twentieth century English

12:30-13:30 Thursday 28th January (HT week 2) at IT Services, Banbury Road. Sign for free to attend the course here.

The British National Corpus is a very widely used and cited dataset, which was designed and built in the 1990s to provide a representative and balanced sample of modern British English, in speech and writing, across a number of varieties in a wide range of contexts. This session will introduce and explore basic concepts of corpus design and construction, and introduce techniques, functions and methods for corpus analysis. BNCWeb is a customized application of CQPweb, with the facilities to exploit and analyse the linguistic annotation of the texts in the BNC, and to make use of the detailed descriptions of the sources. Participants can access BNCWeb with Oxford single sign-on via a link at https://ota.oerc.ox.ac.uk/ (and can also register to use the BNCWeb service hosted at Lancaster University, which will be the back-up in case of problems with BNCWeb at Oxford).

2. CQPweb – exploring a range of corpora

12:30-13:30 Thursday 4th February (HT week 3) at IT Services, Banbury Road.  Sign for free to attend the course here.

The online application CQPweb offers an interface to a powerful corpus search and analysis engine which can be applied to any textual dataset. CQPweb is an open source software application, deployed at many institutions around the world to offer access to a wide range of corpora. This session will focus on mining a large corpus from Early English Books Online for historical information. Participants should register to use the service at http://cqpweb.lancs.ac.uk/.

3. corpus.byu.bnc – historical and cultural investigations

12:30-13:30 Thursday 11th February (HT week 4) at IT Services, Banbury Road.  Sign for free to attend the course here.

The set of large corpora hosted at Brigham Young University include contemporary and historical Corpora of British and American English, Spanish, Portuguese, and the Hansard Corpus of UK parliamentary proceedings. This session will further extend the exploration beyond linguistic research questions to explore historical and political texts. Participants should register to use the service at http://corpus.byu.edu/.

4. The Oxford English Corpus – lexicography and beyond

12:30-13:30 Thursday 18th February (HT week 5) at IT Services, Banbury Road.  Sign for free to attend the course here.

The Oxford English Corpus, and related datasets, offer the opportunity to  explore current and recent trends in the English language, via a very large and growing corpus which is regularly updated with new texts. This corpus is used by the lexicographers at Oxford University Press to create and update entries in the Oxford English Dictionary and other dictionaries, reference works and teaching materials, and can also be used to monitor and discover social trends via the discourses revealed in the data. The Oxford English Corpus uses the SketchEngine software to manage, filter and reveal patterns in these multi-billion word corpora. Log-in credentials for the Oxford English Corpus are kindly supplied by OUP and will be issued during the tutorial session.

5. Exploring modern European languages with CLARIN

12:30-13:30 Thursday 25th February (HT week 6) at IT Services, Banbury Road.  Sign for free to attend the course here.

A wealth of corpora and other language resources are becoming more easily available to researchers thanks to the CLARIN European Research Infrastructure Consortium. The UK has recently joined CLARIN as an Observer, allowing access to all UK researchers with institutional single sign-on via the UK Federation. We’ll take a whistle-stop tour of some of the available languages and corpora, with a focus on the facilty for Federated Content Search, finding hits for a search term across a wide number of resources held in different repositories. Access is available to all University of Oxford users, and via institutional single sign-on to users in higher education institutions from participating countries (see more about access at http://clarin.eu/content/easy-access-protected-resources).

The course will take place Thursday lunchtimes weeks 2-6, Hilary Term 2016, at IT Services, Banbury Road, and will be taught by Ylva Berglund Prytz and Martin Wynne of IT Services, University of Oxford. It is open to all members of the University of Oxford and there is no charge.

Posted in Digital Humanities, Events, Text encoding, analysis and digitization | Leave a comment

3-month report: September to November 2015

Highlights

Projects and service development

RDM Oxford postcard

New Research Data at Oxford postcard (click for full size image)

The University IT Innovation Challenges funded the Blender 3D project which is progressing well. The Project Manager Rowan Wilson has setup the software needed on the new hardware (dual titan CUDA capable GTX graphic card, 64GB RAM no less!) needed to develop the simulations. He has met with the two researchers identified in the project proposal (engineering and geography), and started discussions with other academics working in neuro-anatomy, humanities, oncology and robotics. A key aspect of the project is making it easy and quick to run short compute-intensive jobs on ARC e.g. rendering a 3D video of a Blender model constructed using a large dataset (e.g. Lidar, CT, fMRI and simulated data created using MatLab). Rowan will use the ITIL Service Design documentation to start describing the project deliverables as a sustainable service, focused on supporting researchers in preparing data by stepping through pre-defined data transformation workflows.

James Wilson and James Cummings are leading on the Participant Data project to write a detailed project plan (‘PID’) that will enhance the scope of the service we can offer academics with respect to managing data about people effectively and safely. There are a number of different options that we can take in terms of project scope and definition and we will discuss these with the project steering group to decide where to focus before taking the project to the Research IT board for funding.

Martin Hadley is leading the Live Data project. He organized a very successful first data visualization network event at OeRC, has started preparing the data science curriculum with Steve Albury in the ITLP team, has several academic case studies under development and hopes to have the showcase website up in January 2016. The main area we need to think carefully about on this project relates to license negotiations with the cloud service providers (Plot.ly, Tableau and Shiny) to ensure their data is safe. We’ll use the new cloud services toolkit (Oxford-only access) to make sure we follow best practice.

James and Meriel worked with library colleagues to enhance the Research Data Oxford site, to create new data management planning guidance customized for Oxford academics using the DMP Online tool, and also created new RDM postcards to advertise the RDM services we offer. We continue to refine the new ORDS services, working closely with colleagues across IT Services. We hope to make use of ORDS APIs soon to create data visualizations, and a browse/search functionality in the standardized Drupal instance being developed by Software Solutions.

Martin Wynne is delivering the final phases of the Clarin Eric and Plus project work. He will organize an event here in Oxford April 2016 and plan several similar events that promote EU corpus linguistic repository services. He will also deliver a number of written case studies that focus on specific repositories.

Ken Kahn continues to work with the oncology department to support their work using Agent-Based modelling to understand the role of gene interactions in cancer development. Ken is producing a new web service that outputs a simulation of the tumor and graphing of the tumor statistics to help with a new project grant application. The web service posts the model experiments to ARC which returns the data set for graphing and visualization. We may even be able to produce a 3d rendering of the data using Rowan’s expertise i.e. java script needed to make a WebGL animation.

James Cummings remains the Oxford Scientist in Charge for the ongoing DiXiT Project, a Marie Curie Initial Training Network, but his Experienced Researcher Magdalena Turska departs the Research Support Team as of the 30 November 2015.  She goes to work with the people from eXist Solutions, who are providing development and support for a number of Oxford projects using the eXist-db Native XML Database. James also continues to work with iSicily and LEAP projects. A recent SSHRC funding bid has been successful for more work with the REED project.

Teaching and events

All the team offered a wide range of taught courses to the ITLP programming: Introduction to ORDS, Research Data Management Planning, Exploring Online Language Resources (previously known as ‘corpus linguistics’), Blender, Copyright in the digital world, XML Editing: Basic XML editing with the oXygen XML Editor, XPath: Using XPath to search in the oXygen XML Editor, TEI Guidelines: An overview of the recommendations of the Text Encoding Initiative, XSLT: Transform your XML documents, and the 7 week ABM course.

Rowan has started a Policy Forum for members of the University to discuss and review current IT Services policies. Rowan will also lead a review of all current IT-related policies and report findings to the deputy CIO.

Martin Wynne and Rowan also worked with ITLP to organize another term of lunchtime courses delivered by academics focused on research data.

James Cummings has worked, as member of the Research Software Developers Network steering board, to help the RSDN have an ongoing programme of events around the university.

James Cummings continues as the founding Director of the Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (DHOxSS), one of the most important international training events in this field. Planning is well underway with the cross-divisional DHOxSS committee for DHOxSS 2016 which will run from the 4-8 July 2016.

Howard Noble, Lucie Burgess and Glenn Swafford have set up the RDM Delivery group. Key members of IT Services, Bodleian and Research Services staff will meet regularly to ensure the delivery of projects, infrastructure and client services, as well as RDM-related training and events. The first meeting focused on information sharing and resulted in the RDM Roadmap (Oxford-only access) which visualizes a project timeline, courses heat map and funding resources comparison chart. The second meeting will focus on RDM communications for 2016. The third will focus on new funded and business-as-usual projects.

Ken also hosted another local student, Patryk Golec as part of the STEM Ambassador programme. Patryk wrote a summary of his work experience.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement statistics, September to November 2015

Engagement statistics, September to November 2015

  1. The Live data, Participant data and Blender 3d projects are progressing as planned
  2. Our work with the Bodleian Digital Manuscripts Toolkit project team started 30th November 2015
  3. Howard is working with James Wilson, Meriel, Lucie Burgess, John Southall and other colleagues to organize the next RDM delivery group meeting on the 4th December 2015. We will work on a detailed RDM communications plan for 2016 focused on the services we can provide researchers throughout the RDM life-cycle
  4. We have agreed a detailed project plan for all the remaining Clarin work with OeRC and directors at Utrecht University
  5. Martin Hadley is working with Steve Albury and research colleagues to create a data science curriculum and courses that will start early 2016

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Continue to deliver the Live data, Participant Data, DMT, Blender 3D and Clarin projects as defined in the project plans
  2. Continue to offer our taught courses via ITLP
  3. Deliver the new data science courses and show how they fit to the overall RDM programme of work
  4. Continue to work with RDM delivery group colleagues to maintain and improve the RDM Roadmap, implement the RDM Communication Plan, drive forwards the improvement of current portfolio of infrastructure and client services
  5. Increase uptake of the ORDS service, and make use of the new ORDS APIs for visualization and in websites
  6. Work with Research Services and the Bodleian Libraries to deliver the Act on Acceptance campaign, increase uptake of Ora-Data, and roll out the new Oxford version of DMP Online
Posted in Reports | Leave a comment

Live Data Network Retrospective: 16th November

Live Data SiG Nov 16 CartogramThe first Live Data Network event was hosted by the OeRC on Monday 16th November with presentations from nine researchers from across the University and introduced by Professor of Visualisation, Min Chen. An enthusiastic audience of 27 brought the room over capacity, evidence of the wide interest in building interactive visualisations at the University.

Talks were invited from researchers with existing visualisations or datasets they would like to visualise, and from the developers of specialist visualisation tools built here at Oxford.

  • Dr. Alexandre Tessier (visiting the Faculty of History) discussed his study of Early-Modern European Mail services and his interest in visualising how the network developed and changed across the three centuries in his field of study. This project is part of the Cultures of Knowledge program.
  • Marilou Polymeropoulou (Faculty of Music) presented on using networks and social network analysis (SNA) as a method for visualising data in the social sciences and humanities with amusing clips from the Europe in 8bits documentary accompanying her work on visualising the ethnography of 8bit music across the world.
  • Rowan Wilson (IT Services) has a project to visualise data using Blender 3D and demonstrated the capabilities of Blender for photo-realistic rendering, rigging and animation.
  • William Allen (Migration Observatory) provided an overview of how the Migration Observatory has used interactive visualisations to give the public a window into the 2011 Census.
  • Daniel Haley (Materials Science) demonstrated the fascinating 3Depict software for visualising 3D point clouds, with integrated visualisations for charge/mass and spectroscopy data.
  • Benjamin Hennig (Geography) is pictured top-right discussing his work with cartograms on http://worldmapper.org and http://londonmapper.org
  • Ben Jeffery (Wellcome Trust Centre) works on the impressive Panoptes tool for exploring and visualising research data, with a particular focus on genomic data.
  • Stephen Taylor (Computational Biology) gave an excellent overview of the Oxford developed Zegami tool for image collection categorisation with integrated analysis and visualisation tools.
  • Andrew Stretton (ChemBioHub) is the web developer for ChemBioHub, building a platform for researchers to organise and collaborate on chemical biology research with built-in visualisation.

Note: In the interest of openness, Martin Hadley’s introductory presentation and the results of the cake survey available through this Shiny app, https://martinjhnhadley.shinyapps.io/LiveDataSiG16thNov

Cake preference chart

Cake preferences for the Live Data SiG held on 16th November

Posted in Data visualisation, Events, Live data | Leave a comment

First Live Data Network Event on 16th November

In just less than a fortnight we’re hosting the first termly meeting for researchers interested in interactively visualising their data to meet and discuss ideas; everyone (undergraduate, postgraduate, research fellow and academic staff) is invited to attend.

Date: Monday 16th November
Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Refreshments: Coffee and cake
Venue: OeRC Conference Room, OeRC, 7 Keble Rd, Oxford OX1 3QG

These meetings support the Live Data Project which has the goal of “making visualisation a service” to researchers at the University by promoting the use of interactive visualisation technology and developing training courses in a variety of software packages and programming languages. The project was inspired by the growing numbers of researchers at the university with an interest in either visualising their data or building software for visualising their collaborator’s data. One of the problems we’ve found is that researchers are often interested in similar problems and data visualisation tools, but unaware of one another. We hope that through these meetings we can connect researchers across all the University divisions and foster a collaborative community of researchers building interactive visualisations.

Each meeting we’ll invite two types of talks, and in the future will invite external speakers to discuss their experience in creating interactive visualisations:

  • 10min presentations on example interactive visualisations
  • 5min presentations on datasets that they’d like advice in visualising

There are already a number of presentations lined up on Blender 3D, visualising and analysing music preference networks, and more. If you’re interested in giving a presentation, attending or just to find out more then please email martin.hadley@it.ox.ac.uk

Posted in Data visualisation, Events, Projects | Leave a comment

EPSRC Readiness Project – Summary

By James AJ Wilson 

The ESPRC Readiness Project was undertaken to raise awareness amongst EPSRC-funded researchers of the new research data management Expectations that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Funding Council introduced on the 1st May 2015 (https://www.epsrc.ac.uk/about/standards/researchdata/expectations/). The nine Expectations oblige researchers to document, preserve, and provide access to the research data that they create, and require research institutions to provide the services and support needed to ensure this can happen. Rather than simply asking researchers to comply with the new Expectations, the project sought to understand researchers’ concerns, and to improve the guidance and support offered by the University of Oxford.

More than a hundred EPSRC grant-holders were sent a letter signed by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research (Professor Ian Walmsley) informing them of the new Expectations and inviting them to meet with a member of the EPRSC Readiness Project Team. Over the coming months, the large majority of those invited participated either in a one-to-one meeting or a disciplinary workshop.

Reactions to the EPSRC Expectations expressed during the interview and group sessions were mixed, but generally negative. Many researchers felt that the Expectations would add to their already busy workloads and be of little value either to themselves or their wider disciplinary communities. Even when informed of the kinds of benefits the EPSRC envisaged arising from the Expectations, a degree of scepticism remained. The Expectations were, however, greeted more positively by researchers working in the fields of crystallography and aspects of biochemistry, where it is already common practice to share data and where the infrastructure to assist with this is already established at the disciplinary level. It will inevitably take time for all of the new data management requirements to become generally accepted practice in many disciplines, but responses also suggested that barriers to acceptance can be greatly lowered by the provision of simple, integrated, and easy-to-use tools and services by the institution.

Throughout the project, researchers sought clarification as to how the EPSRC Expectations would affect them in practice and what they needed to do to ensure compliance. These questions were addressed and added to a FAQ on Oxford’s Research Data website (http://researchdata.ox.ac.uk/epsrc-data-requirements-and-what-you-need-to-do/). A checklist and decision tree where also developed.

Particular concerns included: what actually counts as data?; what should be done with the software underpinning datasets?; whether preference should be given to preserving raw or processed data; whether the effort required to intelligently share research data was worth it for some data types; and how the expectations applied to largely theoretical research outputs. The concerns raised by researchers have been relayed to the EPSRC.

A number of suggestions as to how University support could be improved were noted down and are now being acted upon. These have proved particularly important for understanding how researchers need to interact with the University’s data repository, ORA-Data (http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/bdlss/digital-services/data-archiving). As a result of the project, the data deposit workflow has been significantly improved, and the pricing model for the service is being reviewed.

EPSRC-sponsored researchers are now leading the field in terms of the number of data deposits they are making to the ORA-Data repository, suggesting that the project has indeed been successful in conveying the Expectations.

Posted in Projects | Leave a comment

3-month report: June to August 2015

Highlights

Martin Haldley profile

Martin Hadley profile

We’re very pleased to welcome Martin Hadley to the research support team. Martin will focus on supporting academics in using a variety of tools for preparing and sharing data sets, and in particular academics interested in using data visualization to connect with potential collaborators, and engage the public in research.

DHOxSS 2015 was a great success, and coped well with the increased numbers. The DHOxSS is a collaboration between various units of the University of Oxford donating their time as DHOxSS Directors, Organisational Committee, Workshop Organisers, Speakers, and in the work of the IT Services Events Team. Speakers and Workshop Organisers are rewarded for their labours through attendance at the DHOxSS welcome reception and sometimes other events. The enterprise as a whole is financially underwritten by IT Services. For more information see the Digital Humanities website or a blog post report by Dr James Cummings.

Adelina Tomovo, Suzy Shepherd and Rowan completed our latest set of videos for the openness at Oxford series on podcasts.ox.ac.uk. These videos are particularly impressive in terms of production values, and the academics involved: Ben Goldacre, Danny Dorling, Chris Lintott, Maja Založnik, Jacob Dahl, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Antoine Jerusalem to name just a few. The videos present an upbeat but realistic view on research data management and the challenges ahead.

The Live Data, Participant Data and Blender 3D project funding requests have all been approved for funding and will start September/October 2015.

James Wilson completed the EPSRC readiness report which is looking at ways to support academics who need to manage research data.

Rowan Wilson completed the lecture capture report which will be used to inform decisions relating to procurement of ‘cloud’ storage for recorded lecture recordings.

Martin Wynne completed the first phase of the WebCMS project (looking to create a service for members of the University to create websites using pre-defined templates using Drupal). We are now waiting to see what is proposed for the next phase.

We continue to support the Science Oxford STEM Ambassadors scheme by offering work experience to local GCSE students. We hosted Lukas Kaczkowski from St Gregory the Great, John Kafke from the Cheney School and John Albury from Deer Park school in Cirencester.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

ngagement statistics, June to August 2015

Engagement statistics, June to August 2015

  1. We met our budget target for 2014-15 and have a healthy pipeline of work for the coming year
  2. The ORDS software has been handed over to the Software Solutions service team and has 20+ academic projects on the go
  3. Martin completed his Clarin Eric and OeRC related work for 2015
  4. Rowan, Adelina and Suzy updated our openness series of videos on podcasts.ox.ac.uk
  5. Martin Hadley has been inducted, (or is it induced?)
  6. We’re helping to form the RDM delivery group which will bring together Research Services, Bodleian and IT services staff
  7. We seem more relaxed after some holiday

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Start the Live data, Participant data and Blender 3d projects
  2. Start working with the Bodleian Digital Manuscripts Toolkit project which is in turn part of the Mellon funded International Image Interoperability Framework: http://iiif.io/
  3. Run the RDM delivery group meetings with teams at Research Services and the Bodleian Libraries i.e. maintain the RDM roadmap and producing a report for the RDM working group each term
  4. Agree next phase of Clarin work with OeRC and PIs in Utrecht
  5. Work with the ITLP to create a data science / RDM series of taught courses focused on tools and techniques for tidying, analysing, sharing and preserving data.
Posted in Reports | Leave a comment

3-month report: March to May 2015

Highlights

With the end of the ORDS early-life support project approaching the project team have been working hard to iron out bugs and set up the support and maintenance for the ongoing service. The service will be offered by research support (working with researchers), software solutions (will own code maintenance and development) and sysdev (management of servers) teams in IT Services. We aim to make ORDS an important tool in the research data management lifecycle i.e. for storing and developing databases during the ‘active’ phase of a research project, and facilitating the deposit to a preservation service such as ORA-Data. ORDS is currently free for early adopters but in future we will need to ask researchers to add a cost line item to their research grants. It will therefore be important for us to continue working closely with the Bodliean Libraries and Research Services.

We’ve been advising the BRISSKit project based within the University of Leicester. BRISSKit is an open source software platform for conducting biomedical research. It is deployable either locally or in the cloud and it enables biomedical and translational researchers to securely manage and combine datasets. BRISSKit grew from funding provided by JISC and HEFCE, and is now a strategic project for the newly reformed Jisc, and will likely make use of the Jisc Shared Data Centre.

The OxGAME project has now been transitioned to the Shallows Seas project and we will watch and learn how Unity can be used to in active research projects i.e. as a novel approach to interviewing and questionnaires. There are already a number of academics at Oxford interested in exploring this technology at the Geography department.

We’ve worked FrontRange HEAT into our processes and are learning how to use this to coordinate our work with other teams in IT services.

We also hosted Rupert another local work experience student.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement statistics, March to May 2015

Engagement statistics, March to May 2015

  1. Service transition for ORDS is on track
  2. Live data PID completed and funded by the Research IT board
  3. FR Heat embedded in our MO
  4. Blender 3D proposal submitted to the Innovation fund
  5. Research data documentary film still underway

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Ensure we have met our budget target
  2. Finish ORDS ELS
  3. Finish this year’s Clarin Eric and Clarin OeRC engagement
  4. Publish research data video to iTunesU and podcasts.ox.ac.uk along with other talks filmed as part of ‘things to do with data’ and ‘data visualization’ talks
  5. Welcome our new recruit
  6. Setup closer working practices with the Bodliean Libraries
  7. Enjoy annual leave
Posted in Reports | Leave a comment

Trying Apereo OAE in Oxford


Apereo OAE (Open Academic Environment) is an online collaborative tool for universities. It sprang from development of the virtual learning environment Sakai, which is the solution underlying Oxford’s VLE instance WebLearn. OAE is a more free-form, peer-to-peer online environment that Sakai, by necessity. It encourages informal collaboration and brainstorming. Documents can be shared and collaboratively edited within the system, and teams of users built dynamically to share resources. It’s the kind of place that you might throw up a partially completed project bid and invite a group to comment and collaborate.

Oxford has access to a trial instance of OAE and anyone with an Oxford SSO account can log in and use it right now. There is also a mailing list for people trying the system out.

OAE is an interesting tool in that it is useful within a single institution, but its usefulness is multiplied as more and more institutions take it up. It is a piece of free/open source software, so anyone can run their own instance of it locally, but it is also provided as a hosted service, in which institutions can co-exist with their peers, and collaborations between academics at differing institutions can be constructed.

Our team is investigating the possibilities of this tool by making it available to Oxford staff and academics, and seeing what happens. We would be very interested to hear of use cases that this solution might support, and also those it might not. Have a go, and let us know!

Posted in News | 2 Comments

3-month report: December to February 2015

Highlights

ORDS title card with border

Click image to watch the new ORDS video (on YouTube).

Another great quarter for actively engaging the researchers: the Things to do with data, Data visualization and Corpus Linguistics seminar series, training in using ORDS, XML editing with Oxygen, the TEI Guidelines, XPath Searching,  agent-based modelling, and a new 3-hour practical course about using Blender for visualization. We have also delivered RDM training for the social sciences, MPLS, and Humanities divisions, for the NERC doctoral training programme, and via ITLP.

The IT Services ORDS early-life support team is approaching the final stages in terms of fixing bugs and formalising the application management with the software solutions and infrastructure teams. We also released a new ORDS demo video.

The IT Services Redds project has started to scope and specify the deposit interface to ORA Data.

Mark Johnson is a web developer, data wrangler and open source software specialist. Contact mark.johnson@it.ox.ac.uk

Sadly, Mark Johnson left IT Services to join the Open University

The IT Services lecture capture project has started where we will lead on evaluating alternative software for recording and sharing presentations.

The EU VALS project is in the final phase and our contribution will be focused on evaluation and recommendations.

The IT Services Web CMS project is up and running again and we are leading the definition of user requirements and piloting templates with researchers.

The EU DiXiT project has delivered a number of training events across Europe.

We continue to contribute to the CLARIN ERIC network focusing on user involvement in language resources and tools, and to contribute to the setting up of a UK consortium of research institutions aiming to develop infrastructure for sharing digital linguistic data and tools.

We are providing IP expertise to the Jisc Brisskit project team.

We have begun the IT Services Live data to scope a set of data visualization services.

We have been given the go-ahead to investigate how to better support research who need to manage participant data (IT Services Participant Data project will start Sep 2015).

Sadly we had to say goodbye to Mark Johnson who has joined the Open University. Mark made an enormous contribution to the team over the last 3 years working on ORDS, developing Drupal, leading on open source advice and starring in several vodcasts. We saw Mark off at the local with a few games of DiXit (yes, he won) and Ergo (designed by Brian and Brent Knudson) – possible the nerdiest game ever invented.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement statistics, December to February 2015

Engagement statistics, December to February 2015

  1. Plans are still in formation regarding how we will report to the research IT committee (with the libraries and other service owners).
  2. We have agreed to drop the application for funding for the OxLangCloud project and instead support a pilot of the CQPweb software run by OeRC and Linguistics faculty
  3. We have started the Live Data project and been given the go ahead to run a project focused on participant data

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Hand over ORDS software maintenance to Software Solutions
  2. Finish the Live Data project PID
  3. Embed the FrontRange system in our team practices
  4. Write an innovation fund project focused on visualization of large data sets
  5. Finish a new documentary style video about research data and update the openspires website
Posted in Reports | Leave a comment