Providing technical support during research projects

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Presentation given by Matthew Barr at the ’Managing Performance Data and Documentation’ seminar in Glasgow on 17th February 2011

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  • Overview of a Technical Appendix will draw upon examples of successful bids
  • AHRC NERC = Natural Environment Research Council ESRC = Economic and Social Research Council These require data management plans, which are one component of a technical appendix Small websites that serve only to provide information about a project are exempt, but fairly rare (your research outputs are likely to be delivered in some digital form)
  • Work in Word to check character count and avoid Je-S website TIMING OUT I’ll use the standard AHRC technical appendix format to structure this short talk, but the points raised should be relevant to any funding application that includes a digital output.
  • Reporting structure, division of responsibilities, deliverables File formats, documentation Technical expertise, hardware/software/training requirements Advice sought on preserving access to the data, sustainability & 6. Are smaller sections that I’ll cover shortly ** Character counts **
  • - So you may omit non-technical responsibilities - Especially highlight members of proposed steering committee with technical expertise - ‘Management & reporting Structure’ is one of the longest sections (2000 characters)
  • Planning = requirements capture, looking into the current state of things Evaluation = testing. Bear in mind that those closest to the project will feel most at home working with its outputs. You’ll know how to get the best out of your own research data!
  • d. Again, focus on the technical expertise in your steering committee. Likewise, if your PI or Co-I(s) have technical backgrounds, their explicit contribution to the monitoring process might be explained
  • Stress that the PI/researcher will work closely with the technical people on this to ensure that content created is both intellectually sound and technically appropriate
  • The Dublin Core set of metadata elements provides a small and fundamental group of text elements through which most resources can be described and catalogued. Using only 15 base text fields, a Dublin Core metadata record can describe physical resources such as books , digital materials such as video , sound , image , or text files, and composite media like web pages .
  • e.g. HATII and its reputation for research in the area of digital curation and membership of organizations such as the DCC HATII’s previous projects include Mapping Sculpture, theGlasgowStory, the Whistler project, etc…
  • Examples: server maintenance, set-up of project workstations and laptops, RAID-5 disks configurations, SAN Mobile example for new hardware
  • HATII also partners in DCC, OPF, DPC AHDS = Arts & Humanities Data Service
  • However, user registration might be required in certain circumstances Circumstances: personalisation, user generated content Testing = usability, widening access Thorough testing can help ensure that digital outputs such as websites are widely accessible
  • Database right: originality in the selection of the contents and the result of substantial investment
  • Research: digital curation, web technologies, digitization Examples: Mapping Sculpture & PLANETS (15 million euro)
  • Providing technical support during research projects

    1. 1. Providing technical support during research projects Matthew Barr HATII
    2. 2. Providing technical support during research projects <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is a Technical Appendix? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Overview of a Technical Appendix </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Where to get help </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>What is a technical appendix? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Documentation that outlines the technical aspects of a project </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Forms part of any application that involves the creation of a digital resource (website, database, app) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>An opportunity to demonstrate that your proposed project team possesses the know-how to deliver on the technical aspects of your project </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>What is a technical appendix? (II) </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Submitted online via the Je-S system, along with the rest of your application </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>18 or so core questions to be addressed, with strict character limits on your answers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Additional attachments – ‘visual evidence’ – may be provided e.g. organizational structures, Gantt charts </li></ul></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Questions divided into six sections: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project management </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data development methods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructural support </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data preservation and sustainability </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright and intellectual property issues </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project Management </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Management & Reporting Structure </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Could refer to the Project Management section of the Case for Support </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Focus is on delivery of the technical aspects of the project </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>May consider including details of the project steering committee </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project Management, cont’d </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project timetable </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Provide a textual overview of the proposed timeline </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Might refer to a Gantt chart or other visual evidence </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Make provision for planning at the beginning of the project and for evaluation at the end </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project Management, cont’d </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project deliverables </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Includes the obvious technical outputs (website, database) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Might also include ancillary technical deliverables such as the results of any evaluation and your documentation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring process </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Could refer back to the management section </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Role of the steering committee may be expanded upon </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Might also include existing line management structures </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    9. 9. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data development methods </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Content selection </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This will largely be driven by the researcher, but should be developed in conjunction with the systems developer or equivalent </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider things such as maintaining high-resolution archival copies of images in addition to those intended for everyday web consumption, for example </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data development methods cont’d </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data/file formats </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasise open standards and compliance </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consider well-supported open source tools (e.g. MySQL) over proprietary solutions </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Think about metadata (e.g. Dublin Core) where appropriate </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>XML is a standard and a preferred archival format for text-based material </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data development methods cont’d </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Documenting the resource </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Good documentation can help ensure life of any digital output beyond the end of the project </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Might include the requirements specification as well as any user manuals or even contextual help </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Be aware that requirements will likely shift somewhat over the course of any project: documentation should be updated to reflect changes </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data development methods cont’d </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Advice sought </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Locally-available expertise, in addition to external contacts </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Collaborators with established form in the field can carry considerable weight </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Consultation with projects using similar methods </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Again, we have a wealth of successful projects within the University to highlight </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Infrastructural support </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is where technical support – e.g. Arts Support or IT Services – come in </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Software & hardware support, including hosting websites and databases </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Back-up facilities, redundancy, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is also where you might justify the acquisition of new hardware </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Data preservation & sustainability </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate that you have sought advice from relevant organizations </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>External: JISC Digital Media, National e-Science Centre, Digital Curation Centre (DCC)… </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Internal: HATII, University of Glasgow Archive Services </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Following the cessation of AHDS funding, institutions are encouraged to preserve and maintain resources “in house” </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Project partners may play a role </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open standards and open source software are also worth mentioning (again), with particular reference to sustainability </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Access </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Publicly-available, free-to-use website is most obvious digital output </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Should state aim to adhere to Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) guidelines </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid extraneous or proprietary technologies where possible </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Writing a technical appendix <ul><li>Overview of a technical appendix </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright & IP issues </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Plenty of advice available: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>JISC Legal, JISC Digital Media (formerly TASI), UK Patents Office, and the University's Research & Enterprise Department </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Issues to consider include: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assertion of Database Right </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Assertion of the project team’s right to claim authorship </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Proper permission sought and acknowledgement given where other authors’ materials are used </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Where to get help <ul><li>Where to get help </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What do we mean by ‘technical support’? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Good IT support is essential: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Server maintenance </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sourcing new hardware </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dealing with your researchers’ technical queries </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A good technical partner is equally important if there’s a digital component to your project: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Writing the Technical Appendix </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Developing bespoke databases, novel user interfaces, websites & other tools </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Providing intellectual input and technical advice </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li> A collaboration with your technical partner </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Where to get help <ul><li>Where to get help </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How HATII can help </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Within the College of Arts, IT support is based at HATII </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In addition, we are also technical partners in many, many projects </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Our research has informed and strengthened many successful bids </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Partners in a wide range of projects, from interdisciplinary collaborations within the university to large-scale EU-funded programmes </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Thanks! <ul><li>Thanks! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>HATII George Service House 11 University Gardens </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.gla.ac.uk/departments/hatii/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Useful Links <ul><li>Digital Curation Centre </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.dcc.ac.uk/ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>DMP Online </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://dmponline.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk/ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>JISC Legal </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.jisclegal.ac.uk/ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>National E-Science Centre </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.nesc.ac.uk/ </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>

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