Jisc Summer of Student Innovation

This summer, Jisc ran its second Summer of Student innovation.  Via the Jisc Elevator, students can pitch their idea to improve the student experience using technology.  Successful projects receive £5000 and mentorship over the summer to develop and realise their idea.  Around 20 projects were received funding this year, covering student induction, study tools, learner feedback, and open access.  Some of the successful projects included Open Access Button, Lingoflow, and Vet-Revise.


For the second year running, members of Research Support were invited to attend the SOSI Summer School events, providing advice and guidance on technical implementation, legal issues and business models to the projects.  Advice provided this year included introducing version control, good software engineering practices, identifying potential commercial partners, exploring different sustainability options and business models, and assessing technical feasibility of software designs.  If your research group could use advice in these or related areas, please contact researchsupport@it.ox.ac.uk to discuss your needs.

Image Credit: Innovation Lab

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Software Sustainability – Working with WWARN

Over the summer we defined several new Research Support specialisms, covering software selection, intellectual property, and software sustainability. These derive in part from our experiences in running OSS Watch, the national centre of expertise in open source software and open development.

Software Sustainability is all about delivering long-term value from investments in software, particularly where software is being developed as part of funded research activities. Researchers often need to build the software tools they need a part of their work on projects, but what happens after the project ends?

Our advice is – don’t wait to find out! Instead, its important to invest in sustainability  as early as possible – preferably right at the start of a project, or at least long enough before the project ends to ensure there are both the time and resources to develop a credible sustainability plan.

Over the summer we were contacted by WWARN – the World Wide Antimalarial Resistance Network – to talk about the sustainability of several pieces of software they had developed.

The WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (WWARN) is led by Dr. Philippe Guerin, and is based in Africa, Asia and the Americas, with a coordinating centre and informatics in Oxford at the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health. A key part of WWARN is its platform for collecting and mapping reports of resistance to antimalarial drugs, and the web tools used for displaying this data on the WWARN website such as the WWARN Molecular Surveyor.

A screenshot of the WWARN Molecular Surveyor

A screenshot of the WWARN Molecular Surveyor

The WWARN team had put a lot of effort into these tools, and were keen to see how they could continue to be developed and used, either to support researchers looking at other diseases, or for completely different fields of research where there may be similar needs.

To do this, they needed to develop a strategy for sharing the software, engaging with new contributors from outside WWARN, and a model for governing its future development.

Mark Johnson and I from Research Support have been working with WWARN for several months now laying the groundwork for the release of the software and supporting outreach activities. WWARN have selected a license (BSD), put their source code on Github, created documentation, and developed an advocacy plan for increasing awareness of the project and attracting users and developers.

We hope that this effort will provide value for the WWARN project in terms of driving further improvements to the software, and ensuring it is viable long into the future.

We’re also keen to see adoption and use across Oxford – we’re sure WWARN aren’t the only researchers needing this kind of visualisation software, and the more groups that use it, the more sustainable the software becomes.

If you’re interested in using the software, post a message to the Maps Surveyor Google Group.

If you’re research group is planning to develop software, or has already done so and want to talk to us about sustainability, then contact us at researchsupport@it.ox.ac.uk.

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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 a 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 to 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 any 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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