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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