3-month report: June to August 2014


IT Services internship: Suzy and Adelina setting up for an interview

IT Services internship: Suzy and Adelina setting up for an interview

Congratulations to the ORDS project team! We can now offer service for researchers to securely create, populate and share relational databases. This is the culmination effort from across IT Services over several years where the team navigated a complicated funding environment. James W, Meriel and Mark will now promote and support researchers in using the service as part of an early-life support IT service project.

This has also been another great year for the Digital Humanities Summer School. I won’t say much here because James C has written a comprehensive DHoxSS 2014 report himself. Needless to say, congratulations too James, Sebastian, Scott, Kathryn W, and all the teachers involved in giving workshops.

We hosted Adelina Tomovo and Suzy Shepherd as part of the IT Services Internship programme. Suzy and Adelina worked with Rowan to create the new Open Spires website. The website is based on what we learnt on the Jisc Software Hub project last year and uses the same Drupal cataloguing admin interface. The new site is more focused on marketing open resources and in much of the effort went into making compelling film and a visually appealing and well written site. This is the first step for open spires project and Rowan will be taking it forwards over the coming months.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement statistics, June to August 2014

Engagement statistics, June to August 2014


There’s a considerable drop in engagement this quarter compared with others, but this is to be expected during June to August when most researchers are away. We use this period to focus on projects, events and web resource development (and indeed go on holidays ourselves).

  1. With regards to project planning (1) we are not involved in the Matrix replacement and X5 updates, (2) the ORDS ELS project has been approved, (3) OxGarage project brief is about to be started, (4) Oxford BNC-web PID will be submitted to the next review, (5) we will take an updated Live Data PID to the RDM working group in November, (6) we are not involved in the researcher dashboard at this stage, (7) the datastage project has been renamed to ReDDs and the scope changed to just focus on deposit from ORDS to ORA:Data, and the project request has been approved.
  2. DHOxSS 2014 was a resounding success, including special recognition for the organisers from the Director.
  3. The first phase of the open oxford portal, called OxSpires went live end of August.
  4. CatCore, Diva and OxGame projects are closed.
  5. James has passed the detailed for another ‘what to do with data series’ to the ITLP team
  6. ORDS is now live

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Continue to define and advertise our specialist services, and organise ourselves into teams according to the demand for each one.
  2. Grow the ORDS user community (and fix and bugs that surface)
  3. Successfully deliver our parts of current projects: VALS, Web CMS Service – Phase 1, DiXit
  4. Try to get new projects funded e.g. Live Data, OxGarage, Oxford BNC-web, Redds
  5. Contribute to the StaaS project by delivering the oxdropbox work package
  6. Initiate a new internal project (in first instance) to work out how to deliver a whole lab RDM solution such as the Hub (see Jisc Neurohub project)
  7. Deliver our communications plan
  8. Work with comms team to contribute to the new IT services discovery and engagement site
  9. Work with management to hone the focus on the research support team i.e. workshop on 28th October
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3-month report: March to May 2014


Magdalena Turska profile

Magdalena Turska joins the research support team.

James Cummings has recruited the DiXiT project’s Oxford Marie Curie ITN Experienced Researcher: Magdalena Turska started started work on 1 April 2014 for 20 months investigating and implementing improvements to the requirements for publication of scholarly digital editions. During that 20 months she’ll also have secondments to King’s College London and the SynchRo Soft (who make the oXygen XML editor) in Romania.

The OSS Watch service team has been working with the VALS team to plan the Semester of Code – work experience on open source projects as part of undergraduate degree courses.  We are currently signing up projects willing to provide mentoring. Mark, Scott and Rowan will support the Semester of Code initiative throughout the next academic year.

James Cummings on YouTube

James Cummings on the Digital Humanities summer school (click image to watch the video on YouTube)

We have recruited two interns to work on the ‘open Oxford’ website over the summer. Rowan Wilson will lead this project which aims to showcase University open resources that can be used in research and teaching.

Meriel is taking a lead on managing our communications plan. This means gathering newsworthy activities and promoting them to different channels. For instance we had 3 items in the latest IT Services newsletter. Meriel has weaved some magic, Google Analytics now claims the following headline figures for this team website:

  • Between 1st March and 29th May 2014, the Research Support team website received a total of 1208 page views.
  • This represents an increase of 59% over the previous 3-month period.
  • The most frequently visited page was the one advertising the ‘Things To Do With Data’ talk series, which received just over a quarter of all page views.
  • Next most popular were the About page (18%), the RDM courses page (11%), and the Blog (11%).
Team website stats March-May 2014

Team website stats March-May 2014

We submitted our final financial forecast for this academic year. Our IT Services and departmental recharges, along with externally-funded project work have meant that we significantly exceeded our target.

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement statistics, March to May 2014

Engagement statistics, March to May 2014

  1. The Things to do with data lunchtime talk series is underway. Most popular so far was the talk about securing data in the cloud. Meriel gave an excellent overview of the basics of research data management.
  2. (a) The Software Hub project is still open, but only until 1st October. We agreed with Jisc to use the underspend to fund 2 x 8-week internships over the summer. (b) The OxGAME project is nearing conclusion too: David and Howard will give a seminar to the Complex Systems group at York University, and attend an Understanding Risks event with Pablo Suarez in London.
  3. There are teething issues with the ORDS software which are delaying a soft launch.
  4. We are still using RT to manage support requests from researchers. The plan is to move to the new system over the summer.
  5. Our measures of engagement (advice and teaching) for the last 3 months are up in the Humanities and down for Medical Sciences, but otherwise look fairly healthy.

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Write/contribute to 7 x IT Services project initiation documents (PIDs): (1) Matrix replacement and X5 updates (2) ORDS early life support (3) OxGarage project to service (4) Oxford-BNC Web (5) Live Data (6) Researchers dashboard (7) DataStage development
  2. Deliver another successful Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School (Directed by James Cummings).
  3. Create the open Oxford portal and manage two productive internships
  4. Finish the CatCor, DIVA, and OxGAME projects
  5. Plan the next series of Things to do with data talks to run first academic term (Oct-Dec).
  6. Launch ORDS
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3-month report: Dec to Feb 2014


Oxford University Research Data Support website

Oxford University Research Data Support website

The University launched a data support service for researchers website to bring together all the support researchers can currently get with respect to managing their data. Our team will work with colleagues in the libraries and admin departments to grow a comprehensive research data management service.

We have made new contacts with researchers in medical division who showed interest in agent-based modelling and research data management. Within just a couple of weeks we were included in 3 different research proposals (which we should hear about the outcome soon). We also plan to submit regular IT services news to the medical division newsletter with Damion Young.

James Cummings is working with the Social Sciences research facilitator to increase awareness of our services within the division.

The graphics below show that we are making some headway with evening the spread of our support engagements across the divisions, which is good news.

Progress against plans for last 3 monthsnumber of engagementsHow we engaged with researchers Dec-Feb 2014

  1. James and Meriel have started finding speakers for a series of Research Data lunchtime talks that will be delivered through the IT Learning Programme in Trinity term. This effort is helped greatly by the launch of a new research data website. Meriel has given RDM workshops for MPLS, Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, and is preparing one for Humanities. This equates to ~60 researchers (DPhils and PostDocs) attending a 2 or 3 hour session which is delivered as a lecture with activities. Meriel is also making her RDM teaching materials available online.
  2. Howard has failed to close the OxGAME and Jisc Software Hub projects. Part of the delay has been uncertainty when a second visit to Cameroon can happen due to a lack of funds. This will now happen in April so Howard has a concrete deadline to deliver the software. The Jisc Software Hub project will be closed soon but changes at Jisc mean there is some uncertainty how this will happen.
  3. The ORDS software is still under development with the Sysdev team working on the authentication/authorization code. We are seeing new clients wanting the service, and importantly they want to use the software in very similar ways i.e. a relational database view of a flat file repository of data e.g. survey results.
  4. The main development with respect to our ability to support researchers using specific tools is the knowledge management system feature of the replacement for RT. This will make it easier for us to do research into tools and document what we find as we go. For example we had a query about fsQCA software last week.
  5. The 7-week ABM course went well with more students creating their own substantive models (writing code) than normal.

Plans for next 3 months

  1. This is an important financial reporting period where our priority will be to make sure we close projects and invoice for completed work. This particularly applies to the Jisc Software Hub, iSicily, Leap, Catcor and Torch projects.
  2. Focus on our web presence: (a) Making sure we are linked to from relevant University sites (b) Updating the SLDs for each aspect of our service (c) Making more content available e.g. teaching materials (d) Using Google Analytics to monitor which content is ‘consumed’, and why. For example the graphic below shows that we have very low number of visits to our site but this picks up when you include a link to course materials within a page that gets sent on the ITLP mailing list (13th Feb).

RS website stats feb 2014

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Four presentations to Medical Division departments due to a short little message

In November we asked Alison Brindle to include the following in her division newsletter:

Ken Kahn and Howard Noble, who work for the Research Support team of Academic IT, a group within IT services, would like to offer their services to your department. They have done some interesting work on pandemics with agent-based modelling, and are building expertise in research data management, and would like to share this work with interested staff/students. For instance, they could present a talk on agent-based modelling, and its application in research, teaching and science outreach which might be useful for groups interested in exploring new tools, making games to help explain scientific concepts, and introducing students to this approach for doing research. If you would like Ken or Howard to give a talk in your department, please contact them directly at kenneth.kahn@it.ox.ac.uk and howard.noble@it.ox.ac.uk. You can find out more about the services this team provide here: http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/acit-rs-team/about/

This led to invitations to give presentations at

  1. Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine
  2. Tropical Medicine Centre
  3. Diabetes Trial Unit
  4. Department of Public Health

Three  proposals were submitted in a very short time in which we are included in a work package.  And more proposals are under discussion. The turnout and interest in our presentations was very high sometimes leading to long follow-up discussions.

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3-month report (November 2013)


The ABM service is growing. We have taken advice from the ITLP team and introduced a new one hour lunchtime talk which was so popular Ken had to do an additional talk on the same day to cater for the waiting list. The 3-hour introduction course was fully subscribed, and the students are keen to come on the seven week course next term. As in previous years, these engagements have lead to additional requests for advice, including supporting a 3-year NIHR grant proposal. The divisional communications manager for medical sciences sent out an email on our behalf which resulted in three invitations to present and meet research groups.

The RDM project work is growing into a service. We have been asked to give two new workshops (for social sciences and MPLS divisions) and there are an increasing number of support requests from researchers. A new Oxford RDM blog has been started to help bring together news and information relating to RDM. There is also a new managing your research data at the University of Oxford leaflet.

We have finished the Jisc Software Hub project…well almost. Due to flux at Jisc we’ve agreed to keep the project account open until March 2014 to give the new Jisc PM more time to organise two meetings: (1) feedback from the advisory group (2) pitch to senior staff at Jisc to discuss the Drupal site we built as a software product or a hosted service to be used by other funding bodies. We expect to report the final outcomes of this project in the next report.

This web address is now more than a blog! We are using WordPress pages to help communicate the all the different ways we support researchers.

Finally, congratulations to Maria Marinari, our Nuffield summer intern who finished her ABM project with aplomb at the Rutherford Appleton laboratories. (See picture above).

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement stats for September to November

This graphic shows the spread of research support engagements our team has provided across the University. An engagement is either a taught course, 1:1 meeting, or a substantial request for support via email where we supported at least 1 researcher from a unit.

How we communicate with researchers

This graphic gives an indication as to how we communicate with researchers.

  1. ORDS: Over the last few months we have been continuing to implement functionality and squash bugs as they become apparent. Users can now choose which fields are displayed where a database table links to another table as well as saving sub-sets of databases as ‘static’ datasets, so that they can be referenced from publications. Improvements have also been made to the interfaces and the way that the database schema designer works. We have begun work on the user documentation for the service. Two projects are now helping us test the ORDS with their research data, and a workshop where all of our ‘early adopters’ can get their hands on the system and offer feedback about design and usability will be held during December.”
  2. Service catalogue: Meriel handed over a report on user feedback on the service catalogue to the IT Services information management team.
  3. DiXiT project: recruitment is underway, see projects section for latest developments.
  4. Jisc Software project: 99% complete. Jisc has asked us to keep the project account open so that they have more time to organise the final two meetings.
  5. ABM service: There has been more interest in the ABM service over the last 3 months. This is in part due to good advice from the ITLP team who suggested Ken offers an additional 1-hour lunchtime course. The course was so popular it had to be offered twice in one day. The Introduction to ABM course was fully subscribed, 20+ researchers attended the ABM get-together, and we are currently supporting a researcher in writing a 3 year grant where we would be a major work package. Additionally, after contacting the head of communications for the medical sciences division we are now offering three new seminars for research groups.
  6. Torch project: We are formalising project management in an attempt to speed up the recruitment of a Drupal developer. In the meantime Martin will attend Drupal training himself, work with Mark Johnson and InfoDev to develop urgent aspects of the site. Martin has started to use the Balsamiq prototyping/wire-framing tool to see if this helps communicate a vision for the site to academics, and the necessary details to developers.
  7. OxGAME project: The design of the next phase of the model/game is about 80% complete. Ken has been fixing a few bugs in the Behaviour Composer to do with the way the NetLogo client connects to the server, and this is making development much more easy. Howard is waiting on colleagues in Yaounde University to send data about farming so that he can build Micro Behaviours that invite agricultural scientists into the modelling process (alongside the farmers themselves).
  8. Popular research tool skills: We have started our training in R, SPSS, NVivo and Access having attended ITLP courses, watched YouTube training videos, and logged into Coursera courses collectively. The aim here is to be able to help researchers get started, and eventually give advice on how and when to export data from such tools to an RDM service e.g. to provide an archive link within a journal paper.
  9. (We will no longer report on projects here, please see the projects section of the website).

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Start a major effort to stimulate more interest in research data management within the research community here at Oxford. We will build on the approach taken by Stephen Eyre and Kate Lindsay to build interest and offer training in social media for academia. Kate and Steve developed the Engage brand and we are wondering if we can do something along the lines of Engage: RDM but that title might need some work.
  2. Close the OxGAME and Jisc Software Hub projects
  3. Beta release of ORDS that can be tested by all members of this team
  4. Continue learning how to use R, SPSS, NVivo, Access and other popular research tools
  5. Deliver improved version of the ABM 7 week course where we split sessions between lectures and individual student projects
  6. Continue to make new contacts with researchers in the Medical Sciences, Social Sciences and MPLS divisions
  7. Continue with projects as per project plans
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Highlights from the Digital Research Conference

Ken Kahn’s report on a selection of the presentations at the Digital Research Conference:

Citizen Science and Crowd-sourcing Biological Data — Developed a phone app that greatly improved previous citizen science projects that relied upon email with photo attachments. Most examples were reporting the health of trees by submitting photos of leaves. One used the microphone to capture sounds made by bats.

The Environmental Virtual Observatory: A user-driven cloud-implementation of environmental models and data for all — data (often real-time) combined with models (with user-settable parameters) for both local and global environmental data. Initial focus on hydrology and soil since models are more local and much easier to compute.

A Case Study in The Data Science Approach – Finding the Best Beer in Oxford – defined a data scientist as a combination of data analyst, software developer, and story teller. He scrapped ratebeer.com and other sites to collect descriptions of beers and pubs. Extracted frequency of unusual words in order to find the pub that sells beers that best matches his own tastes.

Mining and Mapping the Research Landscape — Very similar to the above but instead of beer it was matching reviewers with submitted papers or matching papers with researchers doing similar work.

Will the real data scientist please stand up? — About the Open Data Institute that helps startups, offers training and certifies sites.

Data science on the cloud — About what Microsoft (and Microsoft Research) are doing with the cloud. Azure seems like a pretty good service and they are eager to support and showcase research by academics and their data and analyses.

The Behaviour Composer: A web-based tool for authoring, exploring, and sharing agent-based models and behaviours — Ken Kahn’s talk.

The final Research Technologist Panel was about the  different roles for support and collaboration by software developers with research projects. The UCL Research Software Development team was particularly interesting. In addition to funded projects they take on one project every three months (UCL researchers propose projects and one is awarded support). They claim (plausibly) that the resulting code is much more professional (correct, robust, documented, readable)  than is the norm for university research projects.

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3-month report (August 2013)


This summer we had the pleasure of working with three outstanding interns:

  • Rachel Holmshaw worked with the Jisc Software Hub team to make a range of videos that tell the story of a few successful open source software projects (that were funded or part-funded by JISC). Rachel made videos ranging from quick demos to on-location documentary style pieces that involved visiting researchers in Southampton and labs in Oxford.
  • Maria Marinari came to us through the Nuffield Research Placements scheme (Ken and Howard are STEM ambassadors). Maria worked closely with Ken to build a model of our solar system using the Behaviour Composer, and then presented the model to researchers in the Physics department. Maria is sure to go far.
  • Charlie Green joined the Jisc ORDS project and worked with David Paine and James Wilson to test the ORDS software. Impressively Charlie taught herself SQL and how to use the Selenium test system in the space of a few weeks, and then handed over some extremely useful work for the rest of the team to carry on with as we try to move the ORDS software from development to production.

James A J Wilson introduced and helped to organize the Damaro/Oxford DMPOnline Projects final workshop on the 28th June, which featured speakers from IT Services, the Bodleian Libraries, the OeRC, and external representation from the Engingering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The workshop considered the growing importance of research data management (RDM) and demonstrated the tools and services being developed at Oxford to help researchers meet the requirements of their funders. James ran a session on managing data from planning to re-use, looking at case studies from each of the four academic divisions, whilst Meriel ran a session on providing training and guidance for researchers. The workshop attracted around 60 delegates from 10 different universities.

Ken launched the ABM service’s first 8-week course via the ITLP programme. Between 4-10 people attended each session and one student built ABM into her Master’s project as a result (Geography department).

Howard supported Prof. Zeitlyn and colleagues at the University of York in writing a proposal to the AHRC videogames research networking funding call. If funded the team will have £45k to bring together researchers from across the University of Oxford and University of York, researchers from Yaounde University in Cameroon, professionals from the videogame industry, and researchers at the Serious Games Institute. The network will focus on narrative and narrativity in the context of making, playing and explaining videogames that relate to real life.

James Cummings directed another successful Digital Humanities Summer School attracting researchers from across Oxford, the UK and far beyond. The event received excellent feedback from and participants and from our own department – James and Lucy Cridland-Smith were given a special contribution award.

Plans for next 3-months

  1. James A J Wilson will lead an ambitious and demanding project to move the ORDS software that was developed with Jisc support into the emerging ‘live data’ RDM service our team aims to offer. James will work with Mark, David Paine, Meriel, Howard, Scott, Sebastian and colleagues in the libraries to (a) finish off the coding and user interface development of the ORDS system (Dec 2013) and hand over the hosting of the software to the Sysdev group (b) continue to work with RDM early adopters to further define the broader RDM service. 
  2. With the ‘live data’ RDM service in mind, the whole team will be attending courses about relational databases, R, SPSS, NVivo and data visualisation with a mind to helping academics who want to use these types of tools with the RDM infrastructure. For instance, we are currently working on a problem that we believe is common across the University where a research group has a large and growing body of survey data that they want to pull into a single place to help them share and analyse it. We hope to help here by uploading data exported from survey tools to a database with a web interface, provide forms to add data manually (e.g. from paper copies of the survey), and provide SQL queries to help researchers download subsets of the survey data for analysis using for instance SPSS.
  3. Meriel will work with IT services web team to get feedback on the current service catalogue.
  4. James Cummings will start work on the DiXiT project.
  5. Mark, Howard and Meriel will finish off Oxford’s commitment to the Jisc Software Hub project and hopefully launch the site with Jisc and the software sustainability institute (Edinburgh Uni)
  6. Ken will work with the ITLP team to further promote ABM service and try to find new academics interested in using ABM in their research and teaching. Videos may well be a big part of this (we’ll take stock of what we’ve learned from Rachel) e.g. recording Ken giving lectures and making video demonstrations of how to use the Behaviour Composer
  7. Martin will manage the second phase of his work with the Humanities division to further develop and expand the Torch website. He will work with IT staff and academics to show them how they can make sure of the Drupal web site development environment.
  8. Howard will continue his work with the Anthropology department on the OUP John Fell OxGAME project. This will involve preparation for the second visit to Cameroon where the plan is to build ABMs with researchers, farmers and government officials in the Yaounde.
  9. Last but not least, we will carry on with the projects listed below.


This graphic shows approximately how many times we engaged with different groups across the University. An engagement is classed as a 1:1 meeting, workshop and taught course

How many times the Research Support team engaged with different groups across the University i.e. 1:1 meeting to give advice or a taught course.

Current projects


Description: DiXiT is an international network of high-profile institutions from the public and the private sector that are actively involved in the creation and publication of digital scholarly editions. DiXiT offers a coordinated training and research programme for early stage researchers and experienced researchers in the multi-disciplinary skills, technologies, theories, and methods of digital scholarly editing.

In Collaboration With: 12-15 institutions, see website.

Our Work: IT Services will be hosting an Experience Researcher for 20 months; Provide some TEI-related training; Host an Early Stage Researcher for 6 months.

Resources: DiXiT is a large Marie Curie ITN-funded bid for 2.3 Million Euros; our share is significantly less.

Current Status: As of 2013-08-19 we’re setting up project infrastructure and awaiting the kick-off meeting in 2013-10.

URL: http://dixit.uni-koeln.de/ See also http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/jamesc/projects/dixit/

OUP John Fell OxGAME

Description: This is a OUP John Fell supported project with the Anthropology department where IT services are helping Professor Zeitlyn build a simple god-game using the the Behaviour Composer. Prof. Zeitlyn wants to explore the potential of using god-games in field research, in particular, asking questions about the future.

In Collaboration With: Oxford Anthropology department, University of York centre for complex cystem analysis , Stockholm Environment Institute, and Yaounde 2 University/ Dschang University in Cameroon

Our Work: Design and develop a god-game/ABM to use with farmers in Somie village in central-north Cameroon

Resources: Ken, Howard and the Behaviour Composer

Current Status: The project is half way through, we’re about to start planning the second field trip with the Stockholm environment institute (we hope to share costs).

URL: http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/modelling4all/category/cameroon/

LEAP: The Livingstone Online Enrichment and Access Project

Description: LEAP is an NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Grant to support ongoing enrichment of and access to Livingstone Online. This site — a well established, transatlantic, digital archive initiative — seeks to provide worldwide access to the writings of Dr. David Livingstone (1813-73), the Scottish abolitionist, missionary, and explorer of Africa. The Livingstone Online site is directed jointly by Adrian S. Wisnicki (University of Nebraska – Lincoln) and Christopher Lawrence (University College London). The archive is published by University College London and is associated with the NEH-funded Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project published by the UCLA Digital Library. The Livingstone Online Enrichment and Access Project (LEAP) will support updating, integrating, and providing access to these two sites and their the digital image and transcription collections in order to secure their long-term sustainability as a unified, open-access resource for scholars and the general public. Dr James Cummings of the Research Support Team, IT Services, University of Oxford is providing around a month’s worth TEI-related consultation and legacy data migration assistance to the project.

In collaboration with: Dr Adrian Wisnicki (University of Nebraska–Lincoln), and Livingstone Online

Our work: James Cummings will be providing consultation work relating to encoding texts in TEI P5 XML.

Resources: This project was funded by the NEH for $275,000 total – our work on it is only about 30 days.

Dates: This project is running from 2013-2016

Current Status: There is a skype meeting in early September 2013 as a kick-off


Jisc Software Hub project

Description: Create a Drupal website for Jisc that (a) collates metadata about all the software Jisc has funded (b) a public website that showcases the best software Jisc has funded

In Collaboration With: Jisc, Software Sustainability Institute (Edinburgh University), Open Source Advisory Service

Our Work: Design and build the Drupal website, including writing content and making short films about software

Resources: The project funds a developer and PM at Oxford and metadata experts at the SSI

Current Status: We are two months away from handing the website to Jisc who will make a decision whether they want to build this into their own main website. There is still quite a bit of work to do regarding tidying the metadata and improving the content (including the videos being created by Rachel).

URL: coming soon.

Jisc-funded ORDS Uptake Project

Description: The Online Research Database Service (ORDS) Uptake project is funded by the University Modernisation Fund and is being run in parallel with the ORDS Maturity Project – an internally-funded project to develop the software to the point at which it can be launched as a service. The Uptake Project is ‘incentivizing’ early adoption of the ORDS at Oxford, working with three partner universities to better understand the scope for use beyond Oxford, and looking into the potential of offering the service via commercial providers at the national level.

Resources: James Wilson is leading this project with David Paine and Dominic Hargreaves. James will get support from our research support team.

Our work: Deliver the ORDS system so that it can be handed over to the IT services sysdev team early 2014. Work with eleven ‘early adopter’ research projects within Oxford. Define the service level description (using ITIL terminology).

In collaboration with: Three partner institutions – the Universities of Essex, Leicester, and St. Andrew’s.

Current status: We are now beginning the testing work, having recorded a demonstration video and issued instructions to our partners. A request for a no-cost project extension until the end of December has been made to JISC (due to the loss of development staff and illness).

Jisc-funded DaMaRO Project

This project is now finished!

The Data Management Roll-Out at Oxford (DaMaRO) Project officially concluded in June 2013. It was a JISC-funded project aimed at improving research data management (RDM) at the University of Oxford by integrating several existing and in-development tools and services into an institutional infrastructure supported by training and guidance and underpinned by an institutional research data management policy for the University. The project looked at the entire research data lifecycle, considering how the components of an institutional infrastructure could assist researchers meet their requirements at each stage of a research project, from planning to re-use.

The primary software output of the DaMaRO Project itself was the open source ‘DataFinder’ tool. DataFinder will act as a catalogue of research datasets produced at Oxford, with links to wherever the datasets described can be downloaded (or details of access restrictions if they are not publicly available). Other components of the Oxford RDM infrastructure consist of DataBank (the University’s putative data archive), the DataStage file management and deposit software, the Online Research Database Service, and the Oxford Data Management Planning Online tool. Major project outputs included the development and trialling of new and improved training and support materials, and new research looking at researcher attitudes, practices, and requirements across the spectrum of academic disciplines.

The major achievements over the last reporting period were the successful staging of the Damaro / Oxford RDMOnline end-of project workshop and the completion of the final report, which is currently undergoing a review by JISC before publication.

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DiXiT: Large EU-funded bid on Scholarly Editions; James Cummings as Oxford PI

Dr James Cummings, from the University of Oxford’s Academic IT Services, is the Oxford PI on a large multi-million Euro funded project investigating the creation and publication of digital scholarly editions. DiXiT is funded under the Marie Curie Initial Training Network Actions within the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme and runs from September 2013 until August 2017.

DiXiT offers a coordinated training and research programme for early stage researchers and experienced researchers in the multi-disciplinary skills, technologies, theories, and methods of digital scholarly editing. It includes 12 fellowships for early stage researchers (PhDs) for a period of 3 years, and 5 fellowships for experienced researchers (Post-Doc) for a period of 12 to 20 months.

The University of Oxford is a full partner in the DiXiT project and will be contributing to the WP2 on “Technology, Standards, Software” led by the Huygens Institute. Under WP2 the research priorities are:

  • first research priority is the integration of web-based tools into the TEI ecosystem for enabling collaborative and standards-based editing (ESR6). This task includes semantic annotation of digital content.

  • The creation of TEI application profiles, geared towards specific functionality, genres or corpora, is a second research priority. Versioning is an issue that comes up in almost all critical editions, and tools that help editors and users make sense of textual variation are urgently needed. For this, a possible augmentation of the Versioning Machine from an interface to a dynamic database environment with multiple views is envisaged (ER2).

  • A third research priority is the interoperability of the several standards overlapping with the TEI, such as the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard (METS) for encoding descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata regarding digital objects and the Open Annotation Collaboration (OAC) standard for annotation exchange. Digital editing needs to find ways to create interoperable content so that research can become part of a wider web of scholarship.

  • The fourth research priority is a requirements study for a publication architecture (ER3) targeting multiple media, not only web and paper, but also mobile devices (EPUB). Progress in this field is especially important to projects without access to a large supporting technical staff.

  • fifth research requirement is the enhancement and integration of tools geared towards stylistics, text analysis and/or visualisation (ER4) to ensure the edition’s relevance for a public that extends beyond textual scholars.

In cooperation with TEI-C, Graz, and EHESS the University of Oxford will be providing a training workshop in Graz in the Autumn of 2014. Specifically:

“Introduction to TEI P5 XML for Digital Scholarly Editions: Four day course to provide students with a TEI-based theoretical framework and practical experience in creating digital editions using the open international encoding standard TEI P5 XML. Basics of representing textual phenomena and features for the description, transcription and representation of primary sources will be covered, from data input to publication. To be taught by network experts from UOX, TEI-C, EHESS/TEI-C, GU and appropriate ERs.”

The University of Oxford’s Academic IT Services, under Dr James Cummings, will be hosting Experienced Researcher #3, for 20 months from March/April 2014. This ER3 will work on WP2 “Practice and usability of critical editions” supervised by Dr Cummings with a project title of “Requirements for a publication infrastructure”. The tasks and methodologies envisioned include:

  • inventory of existing tools and architectures for creating publications;
  • sketching reusable components for such an infrastructure;
  • developments for TEI ODD meta-schemas;
  • oXygen-TEI framework development;
  • proof of concept edition based on defined reusable components (in collaboration with SyncRO) with the results as Inventory of tools;
  • documentation of publication workflows;
  • improved TEI-oXygen Framework;
  • improvements in TEI ODD meta-language

The ER3 will have two secondments for up to 3 months each, one at KCL to “study digital publication tools and frameworks” and one at Syncro Soft to “develop enhancements for TEI-oXygen Framework”.

Academic IT Services at the University of Oxford’s IT Services will also host a secondment of Early Stage Researcher 7 (supervised by Dr Patrick Sahle at University of Cologne). ESR7′s work will be on “Mass digitization data for scholarly research and digital editions” which described in more detail is “Evaluation of mass digitization data; assessment & evaluation of methods, algorithms and tools for data enhancement towards critical research”. In visiting us the ESR7 will be expected to “Learn advanced modelling and processing scenarios for TEI data”.

The DiXiT network includes the following academic partners:

Commercial partners for the ER3 hosted by University of Oxford’s Academic IT Services include Syncro Soft, the producers of the oXygen XML editor.

IT Services will be advertising for the ER3 post in due course. For more information on the project please see http://dixit.uni-koeln.de/.

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3-month report (May 2013)

Teaching and advice engagement

Teaching and advice engagements

The Research Support team:


Dr James Cummings chaired and Sebastian Rahtz attended the TEI Technical Council meeting (agenda and minutes available) at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. The meeting allowed members to discuss the ongoing support of the TEI community and to process a large number of feature requests and bug reports.

Oxford supports the TEI as part of its broader interest in the digital humanities and open standards.

Summary of advice:

  • Spoke to Oracle about using the British National Corpus (BNC) to help improve linguistically-aware products. (The BNC  has been made available for purchase on the University online store).
  • Provided email advice about where to find resources on data management planning to a researcher who would like to attend one of our training courses, but is out of Oxford on the relevant dates.
  • Discussed Eduroam and OWL at the Christ Church IT committee
  • Advised the faculty of Philosophy IT Committee at the termly meeting.
  • Discussed early adoption of ORDS with Katherine Keats-Rohan.
  • Consultation with English Faculty masters students about digital research resources and methods for their dissertations.
  • Meeting with staff member and DPhil student from Computer Science to advise on the sustainability and reuse of textual resources which they are creating in the course of a research project. We also discussed possible research project ideas.
  • Meeting with Humanities Division officers to discuss procedures and online advice for applicants to the Research Grants scheme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
  • Met with Elizabeth Greenhalgh (Politics and International Relations) who is a new Knowledge Exchange Officer there. 
  • Jointly advised them with Pip Willcox from BDLSS on politics digital projects, archiving at the Bodleian, and godwindiary.bodleian.ox.ac.uk website. 
  • Met with Stephen Bernard to give IT research support and advice for a planned AHRC funding proposal. 
  • Met with Pip Willcox (BDLSS) and Edmund King (Open University) about plans for tracking reading experience in WW1 materials. Gave advice about TEI XML and possible strategies for recording the information. 
  • Joined Edmund King in his meeting with Ylva Berglund and Alun Edwards to discuss further use of their WW1 material. 
  • Met with Andrew Fairweather-Tall, David Robey, Jessica Collins  concerning the workflow of when to get IT Services Research Support involved when proposed funding bids have a digital component. 
  • Had detailed/lengthy telephone advice session with Mark Philp (PI behind Godwin Diary project) to discuss his options for a collaborative editing platform for a large number (~100) contributors to a planned publication. 
  • Completed in-depth review of a Family History Information Standards Organisation proposal on behalf of the TEI Consortium 
  • Met with Vincent Razanajao to discuss whether the Topographical Bibliography of Egyptology could be an early adopter of ORDS. 
  • Research support meeting with David Wormersley concerning a potential funding bid. 
  • Consultation/teaching on XSLT transformation for Livingstone Project. We are written into a successful funding bid for ~30 days of consultation and XML-related work packages.


Ken led a fireside chat at the University of Singapore titled “I simulate therefore I am”.

Read the blog post and the reference to the Human Brain project.

Human brain project

Human brain project

Summary of teaching:

  • Two hour lecture on computers and education to staff and students at the State University of Papua
  • Computer science seminar about agent-based modelling and the Modelling4All Project for the complex systems group at York University.
  • Full day HEA academy workshop for biology teachers. 11 academics attended. The Biological Sciences HEA lead Dr Nathan Pike (run Oxford Zoology department) asked us to run another session.
  • 8 week ABM course where between 6-12 people attend
  • Half-day Introduction to Research Data Management workshop for the Humanities Division. Twelve attendees, most of whom were doctoral students.
  • Half-day Introduction to Research Data Management workshop for the Social Sciences Division. Twelve attendees, most of whom were doctoral students, plus a couple of early career researchers and support staff.
  • Introductory tutorial on XSLT for the Livingstone project
  • Taught an intensive day-workshop on TEI for Manuscript Description to Sanskrit MS Cataloguers in the Bodleian Library
  • Invited lecture at Yale University on the digital.humanities@oxford network to students and staff from their digital humanities and libraries.


A selection of the more important projects we are currently working on include:

OUP John Fell OxGAME

Howard in Somie

Howard in Somie

Howard and Prof. David Zeitlyn completed the first field trip to Cameroon. They first met with colleagues at the University of Yaounde 1 to discuss shared interests (ABM, GIS, machine vision algorithms etc) then headed off to Somie village (due north of Cameroon on the Nigerian border).

In Somie they were joined by Eric Kameni a fellow researcher who also specialises in ABM and the three spent several days gathering information about the farming system and markets. The information they gathered led to a complete re-write of the model that was developed in anticipation of the trip.

The farmers were asked to experiment and play the model and tell us what was missing or wrong and this information was then built into a new version of the model. We went through this process three times. We recorded the conversations as the farmers used the model and recorded video of the discussion afterwards.

Next steps are: (1) Blog a more thorough account of the trip (2) Assemble all the data (pictures, video, sound, XML, CSV), analyse the in-model logging data, investigate the new NetLogo replay functionality, meet with people at the Stockholm Environment Institute to re factor the model so it can be ported to the Behaviour Composer and used in a wider range of situations. We have already been asked by a researcher in the Geography school if he can use a derivative of the model in Ghana.


‘Sicilia’ is a two-year project led by Dr Jonathan Prag (Classics, Merton) to establish an on-line, open-format digital corpus of the inscriptions of ancient Sicily. Eventually, the corpus will be multi-lingual and cover the whole of antiquity. Dr James Cummings from IT Services will be converting the existing database of inscriptions to the latest standards for the semantic mark-up of epigraphical documents (in this case the EpiDoc customization of TEI P5 XML). This will be used to produce a proof of concept website that will be based on cataloguing and studying the major collection of Syracuse Museum (previously unpublished) and presenting the results on-line within the framework of the new corpus.

French Oral Narrative Corpus

This projects aims to create a transcribed and annotated corpus of contemporary French oral storytelling in collaboration with the ‘Conservatoire de littérature orale’ in Vendôme. Dr Janice Carruthers from Queen’s University Belfast has been running this project for several years during which she has commissioned bespoke training, specialised conversion and visualization scripts, and general consultation from Dr James Cummings at IT Services. The project was funded by the British Academy and the AHRC and will be deposited in the Oxford Text Archive. The corpus contains a wide variety of types of conte by a range of contemporary conteurs/ses, and is annotated using TEI XML to encode a range of stylistic and syntactic features. Now in its final stages Dr James Cummings is converting the original TEI P4 XML to the latest TEI P5 XML digital text standard and generating both HTML and PDF outputs for ingest into the Oxford Text Archive.

Jisc Software Hub project

Howard is working with Mark Johnson and Scott Wilson (Jisc OSS Watch) to create a catalogue of software outputs from previously funded Jisc projects. The team is working with SSI at Edinburgh University to bring all the information together in a way the software can be evaluated from a sustainability/maturity perspective. The best software will be ‘showcased’ e.g. software where the source code is freely available, license identified, and the solution is being used in authentic research, teaching, administrative and outreach activities in HE/FE.

Stationers’ Register Online

Stationers' Register: 1623-11-08: Shakespeare's First Folio is registered. (Image reproduced with the kind permission of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers)

The development of print, not unlike the arrival of the digital age, raised questions of ownership and control of texts for authors and printers. From 1577 until 1924, the book-entry Register of the Stationers’ Company was the primary means through which control was asserted, disputed, regulated and monitored. Other than the books themselves, it represents arguably the most important primary source for the study of the history of the book in Britain. The Stationers’ Register survives intact in two series now held at Stationers’ Hall and the National Archives. In the nineteenth century, Edward Arber edited the earliest volumes of the Register (from 1577 to 1640), to which he added a fifth, index volume. With the addition of his considerable knowledge of printing and printers of the period, Arber’s work can appear as unwieldy as it is indispensable to students of early-modern print culture. Digital tools provide powerful and flexible approaches to complex data such as these, offering horizontal and vertical access into the Register. The Stationers’ Register Online (SRO) project, led by Dr Giles Bergel (University of Oxford) and Professor Ian Gadd (Bath Spa University), in collaboration with Dr James Cummings (IT Services) and Pip Willcox (Bodleian Digital Library Systems and Services) is generating underlying TEI P5 XML edition of these works. The SRO received one of the first Lyell Research Grants from the History Faculty of the University of Oxford. The output of the project is not a public-facing website but instead the creation of a first-draft of this highly complicated and structured data which will be used as the basis for further projects in this area.

Jisc-funded ORDS Uptake Project

The ORDS Uptake Project is in the process of recruiting a group of early adopters. A team of interested academics from a range of disciplines (and with a variety of types of data) is now forming: over the coming months, they will work with the ORDS team to put the system through its paces. More information about the ORDS (Online Research Database Service) is available from the website: http://ords.ox.ac.uk/.

First Folio – Phase 2

Currently scholars refer to a print facsimile – the Norton First Folio – as the standard text for a pre-edited Shakespeare: we want the Bodleian Folio to have the authority and usability to take over this role. This means the Bodleian needs an accurate transcription and an intuitive search facility that makes it possible to search for words, types of text, speakers; a unique identifier for each line of text; and the capacity to extend the resources as future funding allows.
– Emma Smith, Hertford College, University of Oxford

Following a successful public fund-raising campaign for the conservation and digitization of the Bodleian’s copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the pages images of it are now freely available at: http://firstfolio.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/.

The intended outputs from a second phase of this project, funded by a private donor, include:

  1. Fully proofread text
  2. Development of database and interface, to include where possible: Downloadable images; Downloadable text in a variety of formats; Online full-text searching; Online faceted searching exploiting the markup; Switching between text and image views
  3. Implemented interface including: User-testing of the beta interface; Scoping possibility of registration and annotation
  4. Secure data curation and storage

Together, these features will provide both the authority and the usability that scholars need for research, while opening one of the treasures of the Bodleian collections to the world. Every element of the project will be freely available for scholars and the wider public to re-use for their own purposes. The basis for this project is Dr Emma Smith’s research in this area and the project is managed by Pip Willcox at the Bodleian. Dr James Cummings from IT Services has given the project consultation in project schema design, text-encoding, and in collaboration with the Bodleian will be up-converting the digital texts produced and implementing an XML Database backed website.

Jisc-funded DaMaRO Project

DataFinder development version screenshot

DataFinder screenshot (development version)

The DaMaRO Project (scheduled to finish in mid-June) is now moving into its final stages. Work on DataFinder (a metadata catalogue for datasets hosted in Oxford and elsewhere) continues, and the contribution form is now complete. A business case for University investment in RDM infrastructure has been put together. There have been further training events in Oxford (for the Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions), and team members have also been travelling afar to present the project’s findings at a number of international conferences. Finally, the date has now been set for the DaMaRO end-of-project workshop (to be held jointly with Oxford DMP Online): this will be held on June 28th at Rewley House. Those interested in attending can register via the workshop’s EventBrite page.

Domesday Text Project Pilot

The Domesday Text Project Pilot is a small scale pilot project attempting a new edition of Great Domesday Book designed to meet the demands of modern scholarship. Recent advances in Domesday studies have in large part been based on the study of the scribal history and forms of the texts, but progress has been hampered by the lack of a machine-readable Latin text and standardized translation. Using XML based encoding now now affords the possibility of producing an edition that represents the multifaceted characteristics of the texts and their contents with the potential of putting Domesday studies on a new footing. Funds have been obtained for work on a start-up pilot study for a major research project that will bring together all the specialist scholars in the field to make available an iconic source of fundamental importance to historians and of singular interest to the general public. The pilot study work is being done by two of the specialist scholars, David Roffe and Katharine Keats-Rohan. Dr James Cummings (IT Services) will be converting the bespoke XML format used in initial stages of the pilot into TEI P5 XML and from generating a proof-of-concept website.

System development

  • Completed minor development for Middle Dutch Phonology project. Implemented suggested changes in transformation of manuscript edition to HTML from TEI P5.
  • Gave 5 minutes worth of development work to fix a bug on the digital medievalist website.
  • Redirected the @Ox_IT twitter account (set up by InfoDev) to Communications@it.ox.ac.uk
  • Made a major release of XML+XSLT generated website for Verse Miscellanies online. Handed development baton to BDLSS pending stylistic changes needed post import of TEI->HTML->WordPress digital edition.
  • New release of Behaviour Composer and BC2NetLogo tool which can now be installed as a single package (not fully working for Mac yet).

Funding news and secondments


Congratulations to Dr James Cummings for helping to secure funding for the EU funded DiXiT project! This is a large EU bid for 2.3million euros on digital scholarly editions has been funded by the EU Marie Curie Initial Training Network, around 213K euros will be coming via IT Services. The DiXiT project is a network of ten leading European institutions from universities and academies closely collaborating with the private sector and cultural heritage institutions that will focus on training and investigation of the skills will training and investigating the production of digital scholarly editions  DiXiT seeks to train a new generation of scholarly experts in the multi-disciplinary skills, technologies, theories, and methods of digital scholarly editing in order to explore and better understand the relationship between the goals of traditional scholarly editions and new computational methods and technologies by bringing together many of the most highly thought-of European institutions and researchers in this area. The main goal of DiXiT is to develop and to coordinate training and research capacities in the field of digital scholarly editing by bringing together skills and competences from textual scholarship, literary studies, philology and other areas of the humanities, as well as from e-publishing developments, digital libraries and information systems, computer science and software engineering, and to build a cooperative network based on the resources of partners. IT Services will be hosting an Experienced Researcher for around 20 months, providing training workshops, contributing to standards-related workpackages, and hosting (for 6 months) an early stage researcher.

The Livingstone Online Enrichment and Access Project (LEAP)

LEAP is an NEH Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Grant to support ongoing enrichment of and access to Livingstone Online. This site — a well established, transatlantic, digital archive initiative — seeks to provide worldwide access to the writings of Dr. David Livingstone (1813-73), the Scottish abolitionist, missionary, and explorer of Africa. The Livingstone Online site is directed jointly by Adrian S. Wisnicki (Indiana University of Pennsylvania) and Christopher Lawrence (University College London). The archive is published by University College London and is associated with the NEH-funded Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project published by the UCLA Digital Library. The Livingstone Online Enrichment and Access Project (LEAP) will support updating, integrating, and providing access to these two sites and their the digital image and transcription collections in order to secure their long-term sustainability as a unified, open-access resource for scholars and the general public. Dr James Cummings of the Research Support Team, IT Services, University of Oxford is providing around a month’s worth TEI-related consultation and legacy data migration assistance to the project.


Martin continues his secondment to the Oxford e-Research Centre (0.5 FTE) and the Humanities Division (0.4 FTE%). Martin will soon launch the new TORCH website complete with films of interviews with six academics.

Martin has also been appointed as Director of User Involvement for the CLARIN ERIC, a role which he will carry out as part of his duties in the Oxford e-Research Centre.


  1. Cummings, James. “digital.humanites@oxford: Networks of Projects in a Collegiate University.” An invited lecture at Yale University; Prezi.com website. 15 April 2013. Web. 21 April 2013. http://prezi.com/yopygmfp57ng/digitalhumanitesoxford-networks-of-projects-in-a-collegiate-university>
  2. Cummings, James. “Self Study (part 5) The TEI Header.” IT service blog website. 20 April 2013. Web. 21 April 2013. http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/jamesc/2013/04/20/self-study-part-5-the-tei-header/
  3. Cummings, James. “Self Study (part 6) Primary Sources.” IT service blog website. 21 May 2013. Web. 22 May 2013. http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/jamesc/2013/05/20/self-study-part-6-primary-sources/
  4. Patrick, Meriel. “Further reflections on the JISC Managing Research Data Workshop.” DaMaRO Project blog. IT Services, University of Oxford. 3 April 2013. Web. 15 April 2013.<http://blogs.oucs.ox.ac.uk/damaro/2013/04/03/further-reflections-on-the-jisc-managing-research-data-workshop/>
  5. Patrick, Meriel. “Promoting existing training resources (or the wonders of Web links and helpful colleagues).” DaMaRO Project blog. IT Services, University of Oxford. 10 April 2013. Web. 15 April 2013.<http://blogs.oucs.ox.ac.uk/damaro/2013/04/10/promoting-existing-training-resources-or-the-wonders-of-web-links-and-helpful-colleagues/>
  6. Patrick, Meriel and Wilson, James A. J. “Getting Data Creators On Board with the Digital Curation Agenda: Lessons Learned in Developing Training for Researchers.” DigCurV International Conference website. DigCurV, 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. <http://www.digcur-education.org/eng/International-Conference/Programme/Getting-Data-Creators-On-Board-with-the-Digital-Curation-Agenda>
  7. Patrick, Meriel. “DigCurV International Conference: Framing the Digital Curation Curriculum.” DaMaRO Project blog. IT Services, University of Oxford. 17 May 2013. Web. 20 May 2013. <http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/damaro/2013/05/17/digcurv-international-conference-framing-the-digital-curation-curriculum/>
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3-month report (February 2013)

Simple engagement statistic

Simple engagement statistic: the affiliations of the people we have worked with this month e.g. through requests for advice and teaching support.

The research support team:

  • Offers free advice (30-120 minute meetings) to academics on a wide range of topics e.g. research data management (RDM), the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), agent-based modelling (ABM), building an academic online presence
  • Supports academics in designing and writing funded project proposals 
  • Manages projects (PI, co-PI and PM roles) and leads IT-related work packages/tasks
  • Organises and contributes to a wide range of events e.g. Digital Humanities Summer School and the ABM get-together
  • Offers taught courses, and support teaching in departments e.g. TEI, academic online presence, ABM, RDM
  • Develops and maintains cutting-edge educational and research technologies e.g. the BehaviourComposer


Damaro project

University of Oxford Research Data Management website

Meriel ran two half-day Introduction to Research Data Management training events for Oxford researchers from the MPLS and Medical Sciences Divisions. These were the first instalments in a series (aimed at chiefly graduate students and researchers near the beginning of their career) which is being offered via all four academic divisions – there will be similar courses for Humanities and Social Sciences in Trinity term. The series grew out of a half-day course initially offered to the Medical Sciences Division: other divisions then asked for similar course. Meriel was also invited to contribute a lunchtime session on research data management, as part of the Humanities Division’s Ten Top Things Researchers Need to Know series. If you would like an RDM session for your group, send an email to: damaro@oucs.ox.ac.uk

Summary of advice:

  • James C helped colleagues in the Bodleian think through their use of the Fihrist TEI ODD to analyse Hebrew and Sanskrit texts. 
  • Howard worked with Dr. Recker in the Zoology department to plan 2 x 3 hour computer-practical  teaching exercises for sixty 2nd-year undergraduates
  • Martin helped MSt English Language students make decisions about dissertation options.
  • James C supported academics in both Theology and Modern Languages in writing funding proposals
  • James C and Jill met colleagues in Public Health to discuss a global health distance learning course.
  • Howard met a Masters student who wanted advice on how to get started in creating an ABM of electricity supply and demand in rural India.
  • James C proof-read and commented on AHRC and John Fell proposals for the Humanities department


Oxford Text Archive

British National Corpus search results for "budge"

Martin taught two courses on research methods for working with electronic text collections. In Michaelmas Term, the course ‘Using Corpora to Investigate English Usage’ was taught to the students on the new M.St. English Language course in the English Faculty. In-depth consultations were also given to individual students to assist them with data gathering and analysis for their assignments. In Hilary term, the 6-week course in ‘Corpus Linguistics’ was offered for the fourth consecutive year as an ITLP course, with attendance from Masters students from the Faculty of Linguistics, Phonetics and Philology (FLPP), where it was listed as an optional course. There were also participants from OUP, English, the Language Centre, Education, Anthropology, and other faculties. Both courses were taught in collaboration with Ylva. Martin also assists with induction presentations on research methods to humanities students in the Faculty of English and FLPP, together with faculty and library staff. 

Summary of teaching:

  • James C taught a full day course on TEI for the the British Library (focusing on manuscript description)
  • Meriel taught a half-day Introduction to research data management course for a group of DPhil students and PostDocs in the MPLS division.
  • Meriel taught a half-day Introduction to research data management course for the Medical Sciences division.
  • Meriel gave a lunchtime talk Ten top things researchers need to know about research data management for Humanities and Social Sciences divisions
  • Howard supported Dr. Recker in teaching the infectious disease control ABM practical (2 x 3-hour practicals for 60 2nd-year undergraduates in the Zoology department)
  • Howard (with Steve and Kate) taught the introduction to online presence ITLP course twice (open course and closed course for the social sciences department)
  • Howard (with Steve and Kate) taught the advanced online presence ITLP course
  • James C taught a Digital Manuscripts class for MSt students at Oriel College with Dr Eyal Poleg
  • Ken taught an Introduction to ABM course for 40 students at the Udayana University in Bali!


JISC DaMaRo project

(James Wilson, Meriel Patrick and Asif Akram, with colleagues in the Library department). The JISC-funded Damaro Project is currently working on the user interface for the DataFinder tool. In particular, we’ve been getting the manual contribution form working, which will enable people to describe any data they’ve produced so that it can be found again (and understood) in the future. DataFinder will in due course be the catalogue of research data produced at Oxford. We’d like to start testing this shortly, so if you’re interested in finding out more about the system and ensuring it’s usable in practice, please get in touch with us at damaro@oucs.ox.ac.uk. We’ve also been working on the service plans for DataFinder and DataBank (the University’s forthcoming research data archive), considering what we can offer from the end of the project in June, and how much that will cost. To find out more about Damaro, visit the website at: http://damaro.oucs.ox.ac.uk/

ORDS Uptake project

(James Wilson, Meriel Patrick and Asif Akram, with colleagues in the Library department). The UMF-funded ORDS Uptake Project is working on developing the University’s planned ‘Online Research Database Service’ so that it can serve the needs both of researchers at Oxford, and those at other universities around the UK. This month the project had its first Steering Group meeting, at which we discussed commercialization options with Isis Innovation and with Tim Parkinson from the University of Southampton, who has been undertaking a similar process with the Smart Research Framework that they have been developing. Besides that we’ve mostly been working to understand the needs of our early adopters and trying to arrange partnerships with other Universities. If you are a researcher based at Oxford and your research involves working with databases (or spreadsheets that would be better off as databases), we’d be delighted to work with you. Anyone willing to act as an early adopter and help us find bugs and provide feedback about the service at present will be able to use it for free for the next few years. Email ords@it.ox.ac.uk if you’d like to discuss this further. To find out more about the Online Research Database Services, visit the website at: http://ords.ox.ac.uk/

JISC Software Hub project

(Mark Johnson, Scott Wilson, Howard Noble, Sebastian Rahtz and colleagues at the SSI Unit in the University of Edinburgh). The Software Hub project started in November and will run for a year. The aim is to make a catalogue of software products that were funded, or part funded by the JISC, and to promote the most sustainable or mature products as solutions. Perhaps the most innovative aspect of this project is the work to make it easier for people to gain access to demo versions of web applications e.g. by making VMs available via hosting services such as the Microsoft Azure.

OUP John Fell making models not asking questions project

(Prof. David Zeitlyn (Anthropology), Ken Kahn and Howard Noble) This project started in January and will run for 10 months. We will pilot the use of agent-based computer models that have game-like elements built into them, to help communicate and discuss the risk that increased climate variability poses to rural farmers in Cameroon. Read more on the modelling4all Cameroon project blog thread.

System development

Java Applet Warning Message

Java Applet Warning Message

Ken released a major update to the modelling4all software. It seems as though Java Applets are becoming ever more problematic with increasing numbers of security warnings. Modelling4All relies on Applets to display the NetLogo program compiled within a browser. This new release makes it possible to bypass applets by providing a convenient way to compile a model created within the behaviour composer inside of NetLogo itself. This has the additional benefit of improved debugging and likely faster simulation run times. It may also help in situations where Internet access is patchy or non-existent e.g. the modelling4all’s latest project in Cameroon.Read more about this new release and other developments to the modelling4all software.

Summary of development activity

  • James C and Sebastian R have been working on an XML conversion of a Polish Dictionary for the Oxford University Press.
  • James C reported and fixed a bug on the University’s Open Data Site: Data.Ox
  • Howard is building a NetLogo model for the John Fell project (see above)
  • James C drafted a workplan for a French Storytellers corpus for an academic at Queen’s University Belfast
  • James C started some work on the Online Egyptological Bibliography database

Funding news and secondments

James C et al have put in an EC funding bid: Digital Scholarly Editions Initial Training Network (DiXiT) in the Marie Curie Initial Training Network, to focus on infrastructure for digital scholarly editions, has reached negotiation stage. Project PI: Prof Andreas Speer, University of Cologne, Oxford PI: Dr James Cummings

Martin is working on secondment with The Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH), a major new interdisciplinary centre based in the recently renovated Radcliffe Humanities building on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site. His duties involve project management of the development and launch of a new website for TORCH, together with the InfoDev team, integrating the Digital Humanities at Oxford website, and developing a strategy for the sustainability of TORCH’s web presence.


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