Having recently issued our Funding Call on impact & embedding of digitised resources now seems an appropriate point at which to reflect on some of the work JISC has done to investigate and facilitate the impact and usage of digital resources.
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) recently submitted their Final Report on a workshop they undertook entitled: Digital History Workshop: Connecting Researchers to Digital Collections .
The workshop addressed some of the issues and outcomes from the OII’s JISC funded study: The Usage and Impact of Phase I Digitisation projects and Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR).
These issues can be broadly defined as:
- The difficulty in connecting with potential users (researchers, teachers, students and the public);
- In some disciplines (i.e. History), habits dictate that researchers and students are not enthusiastic about the use of online resources for their studies.
The workshops, undertaken over two days, attempted to focus on scholars and researchers who had an interest in learning how digital resources could enhance and potentially transform their research and work.
Focussing on early stage researchers in the second event, the workshop attempted to establish, and challenge attitudes to digital resources early on in the researchers career.
The workshops attempted to confront some of the barriers that are often noted in the uptake and continued use of these resources:
“Of key importance to these workshops, but in particular to the first workshop, was the combination of information sessions with reflective papers from key scholars working in various research areas, and the opportunity to ask questions both of custodians/creators of digital resources and of those already using these tools for academic research and teaching.”
By having prominant scholars demonstrating their use and research activities in connection with online scholarly resources, these workshops highlighted that: “Researchers are attracted to new methods and approaches most readily when presented with tangible and substantive examples from their peers and mentors“.
Furthermore, the TIDSR study and workshops highlight the importance of having multiple methods for seeking out information about users. This user research can help deepen our understanding of how these resources are used and embedded in the practices of teachers, students and researchers.
“We found during the TIDSR project that funding for monitoring usage and impact beyond the launch of digital resources is often limited, and it is therefore vital that such funds are put to the best use.”
Hopefully the funding for the 7/10 grant call: Impact and Embedding, can help address this recommendation/concern from the workshops and wider impact study.
Share and Enjoy
JISC has just announced funding for its Grant call 7/10: e-Content and Digitisation programme: Impact and Embedding of digitised resources.
Funding of up to £150,000 is available for projects addressing the impact and embedding of digitised resources. It is anticipated that 4-6 projects will be funded and the maximum funding for any one project is £40,000.
Proposals are not limited to previously funded JISC projects.
The deadline for receipt of proposals in response to this call is 12 noon on Friday 9 July 2010.
The call aims to:
- Facilitate institutions in carrying out an analysis of the impact of their digitised resources/collections that have been live for at least one calendar year.
- To develop strategies and practical solutions to ensure the increased use and impact of the resources in teaching, learning and research within higher education (HE)
This call is in response to a number of important studies and pieces of work attempting to asses the impact and usage of digital resources, including the impact study carried out on the phase I JISC digitisation projects.
Projects must start in October 2010 and complete by March 2011.
Share and Enjoy
In the last few years there has been an increasing number of initiatives involving the general public in creating or contributing content to existing digital collections, including scholarly digital resources.
Projects have ranged from involving the general public in the cataloguing of galaxies (Galaxy Zoo) to experiments in amateur digitization to supplement a literary digital archive (First World War Poetry Digital Archive) and third sector initiatives, where citizens can get involved in issues affecting them, (Mysociety).
- What typology of user engagement is emerging from such projects?
- What kind of value might these initiatives bring to the formal education sector?
- What are the modalities for a true two-way user engagement between a project and the general public as its main contributor?
- Are there any subject areas that lend themselves more favourably to this kind of experiments?
Looking at strategic and policy issues, and taking into consideration a number of case studies, this report examines
the potential for digitising and curating collections of cultural or social worth from the general public [paying particular attention to] the principle of two-way engagement – knowledge co-creation and exchange rather than simply knowledge transfer: a dialogue which enriches knowledge for mutual benefit.
Share and Enjoy
At the event “Why pay for content?” organised by the Publishers Association, representatives from the publishing sector, JISC, and academics, put across opposing views on whether we should pay to access content on the internet or it should be freely and openly accessible to everybody. The content in question referred mainly to textbooks and research/reference material for higher education.
However, about 10 minutes into the debate, the opposing speeakers seemed to agree on one fundamental point: the question posed, “Why pay for content?”, was not the right one.
Rather, we should be asking “Who should pay for content?”.
Some key issues from the presentations and debate that emerged were:
• there was general agreement that for the creation and online delivery of high quality, authoritative content, someone has to pay (commercial publishers, government funding, authors, users), somewhere along the food chain
• the view was put forward that the “free at the point of use” model was the preferred one, but still somebody had to pay, at some point
• business models that are being experimented with by open access initiative, have tended to shift the cost of content to the delivery of “added extras” or “value added ” features (eg print on demand, delivery of content in different formats or for different platforms, various degrees of personalisation etc…), while basic content accessible on screen comes for free (see eg Flat World Knowledge )
• if somebody has to pay, then how much should content cost? Commercial publishers agreed that the economics of different sectors would determine this, based on how much value (ie quantified positive outcomes) the purchase of high quality content would bring to one’s business
• why aren’t academics depositing their research outputs into open access repositories even if research into this suggests they are not opposed to it? Views ranged from the need to provide researchers with more stimuli or financial rewards to deposit, to mandating it, to allowing for more experimentation (not clear in what, though…)
• a commercial publisher advanced the notion that there is still not enough evidence that free access will deliver more impact, rather the “brand” has proved to be more effective in delivering impact, so it’s not a matter of business models per se
• the landscape is varied and paid-for content and “free” content coexist and will do so for, at least, the medium term future
The issues are many, and the jury is still out on what delivery and sustainability models will eventually prevail.
But in one thing there seems to be consensus: in the majority of cases there is a cost to the creation of high quality, authoritative and reliable content.
Share and Enjoy
Europeana, the portal for the cultural collections of Europe, is now fully functioning and looking for feedback.
Tell us what you think and win the latest iPod Touch!
All Europeana’s features are fully functioning now and we would like to know what you think about the site. We’re currently running a survey in all 27 EU languages. Your feedback is important for the future development of Europeana, so let us know what you want.
The Europeana Team
Share and Enjoy
The Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR), developed for JISC by the Oxford Internet Institute, is now available online for everybody to use.
If you have been struggling with making sense of hits, visitors numbers, log analysis, users feedback, wondering how to interpret all this data, how to gather it in the first place and how to assess whether your resource is being used and how, the toolkit will provide a clear, concise and easy to use framework for carrying out an assessment of the impact an online resource is having.
As the toolkit web site emphasises:
There are a number of challenges in assessing the use and impact of online digital resources: these include new methods, shifts in the way that people access resources, new audiences, and new forms of information-seeking behaviour among different audiences.
The evaluation of online scholarship is a moving target, and therefore a flexible set of measures and practices will be used. The toolkit consists not of a single software solution, but a set of recommendations for best practices.
The toolkit inlcudes useful information, related articles, tools and guidance on how to use a range of quantitative and qualitatives measures (including webometrics, analytics, content analysis of media coverage, focus groups, resource surveys, user feedback analysis and more) and is open for submission of additional relevant resources, or comments, by the community.
The toolkit was piloted through case studies of five diverse JISC Digitisation projects funded under Phase 1 of the Digitisation programme.
Share and Enjoy
There’s plenty of discussion about things like APIs (application programming interfaces) and concepts of opening up data, but to the non-initiated this can all seem rather confusing and overly technical.
However, as those who have created digital projects continue to look for new ways to expose their content to the widest possible audience, APIs offer a way to give access to whole of your collection so that others can come up with new ways of exploiting it. Often, it’s people outside your organisation who can come up with imaginative ways of using your content in ways you had never imagined.
This could include other parties
- using your subject metadata to build a harvesting search engine over a number of collections related to a specific theme
- using all your metadata related to dates and time to build a timeline
- analysing your descriptive metadata to build a tag cloud
And once an API is set up, you spend a lot less time responding to queries from people who wonder if they can hold of your data for their own projects. They just go straight to the interface and question the data they need. They then build interfaces around this data, that will drive more users to your website.
There are two really helpful blog articles that help describe this better.
- Mike Ellis’ interview with the Brooklyn Museum, who have just published their API
- The interview with the DigitalNZ (New Zealand) team, who have done some radically innovative ideas in how to get their nation’s content used.
(Thanks to Mag3737 for the Flickr photo)
Share and Enjoy
In addition to digitising a huge variety of material (text, sound, images, moving images…) tracing about 500 years of British and international history, culture, life and society, the great majority of digital collections funded under the JISC Digitisation programme has also developed learning resources and tools to help teachers and students make the most of a digital “sea of stories”, and prevent drowning in it.
This presentation introduces some of the recently launched digital collections and highlights key interactive features that can be used by teachers and learners to complement more traditional teaching methods, including e-learning framework (Newsfilm Online); interactive writing frame and maps (Cabinet papers 1915-1978) and path creation scheme (First World War Poetry Digital Archive).
The slides also highlight some of the key issues for digitisation projects and provide examples of how these have been handled by projects within the JISC Digitisation programme including:
o Content selection
o Licensing and IPR
o User engagement
as well as references to useful resources and toolkits.
Share and Enjoy
There has been plenty of publicity about the eye-wateringly beautiful digital images produced by Madrid’s Prado museum in association with Google Earth.
Detail from Rubens’ The Three Graces, Prado Museum, Madrid. Taken from Google Earth.
Contrary to what some art critics have written, this is, in some ways, a more powerful experience than seeing the original, where glass, ropes and bollards block such an intense close-up experience.
However, like Google’s project to recreate classical Rome, such resources are great for the general public they are not quite good enough for a university audience.
A researcher or lecturer certainly wants high-quality images, but they also want
- the ability to easily download and manipulate the image
- related tools that can comapre and contrast images
- a stable URL to cite the digital address of the image
- good quality information about the painting (i.e. catalogue / metadata stuff)
- to be able to search all paintings in the Prado (in fact the whole world) – not just the highlights!
- clear copyright terms and conditions about using.
Do that for us Google and we will be very happy.
Share and Enjoy
In a previous post (What’s your priority for digitisation? ), we mentioned the JISC-funded DiSCmap project, Digitisation in special collections: mapping, assessment, prioritisation, which aims to produce, among other things, a “top priority” list of special collections held within the UK Higher Education sector (including libraries, archives, and museums) for potential future digitisation, based primarily on the needs of researchers and teachers.
DiSCmap invites responses to an online survey from Librarians, Archivists and Collection Managers within UK Higher Education institutions who will be able to nominate collections within their institution which are considered to be a priority for future digitisation.
The initial long list obtained from the responses to the survey will subsequently be refined through the feedback of users such as researchers and teachers. The second stage of the project will be to produce a “short-list” of priority collections held within UK HEIs for potential future digitisation.
The outcome of this project will provide useful evidence for users’ demand for digitised content, and inform JISC’s future digitisation strategy and activity.
If you haven’t completed the survey yet, please do so by mid-February, and make sure your institution contributes to mapping the digitisation needs for the UK Higher Education sector.