How does the arts and humanities research community find and exploit the internet resources it needs?
It is currently served by complementary services, e.g:
Technical developments now make it possible to refine, personalise, cross link and render interactive online information gateways. This project examines current user information search / access strategies and patterns.
It will then develop demonstrators of interactive gateways to investigate future user requirements for advanced information services that will serve to facilitate greater take up and use of these resources.
Recommendations will be made to the AHRC on future policy development.
The project has been funded from the AHRC ICT Strategy Programme for one year.
Research Practitioners in the Arts and Humanities now typically have:
Project Methodology Statement: User evaluation must be in the context of the relevance of the current research portals within an appropriate understanding of the current needs and activities of research practitioners in the Arts and Humanities.
Various service providers collect detailed information about the way in which their service is being used. This information has not, however, been analysed in a comparative framework. With the cooperation of service-providers, this project will collate their data, including the information it provides for the kind of search being undertaken, the search path, and an analysis of relevant variables, including evolving patterns of usage.
The service providers include:
The cooperation of the research practitioner community is vital to the successful outcome of this project. Data about current user patterns will be acquired in two ways:
The questionnarie can be found by clicking here and will remain open until 30/04/06. This is your chance to influence how the work proceeds and will help us with data collection from actual practitioners.
There is also a prize draw with a chance to win £100. Details of how to enter are at the end of the questionnaire.
Questionnaires, it is well known, only tell one part of the story about users' ways of working and preferences. Another way of collecting materials, often providing valuable qualitative information, is 'practitioner group analysis'. The Project is in the process of identifying key conferences in the Arts and Humanities in the UK over the next 12 months where we expect to be present and invite research practitioners to undertake a small evaluative exercise for us about the way in which they search for research information online.
Internet users will be aware of the rapid development of new 'pervasive' technologies that refine, personalise and render interactive subject gateways and portals through tool-bar type tools or 'portlet' developments.
Portlets are Java-based Web components, managed by a portlet container, that processes, requests, and generates dynamic content. Portals can use portlets as pluggable user-interface components that provide a presentation layer to information systems. These are ideal for enabling users to find or be alerted to the information and resources that they want to use from a variety of providers in a way that could facilitate their greater use. The establishment of Java technical standards for Portlets [JSR 168] opens the door to their widespread adoption.
Research practitioners are not likely to have a detailed appreciation of the likely technology trends in this area. The best means of measuring their reactions to them is via a demonstration. The demonstrators will make use of the latest portlet technology, linking (where appropriate) already existing functionality/developments combined with mockups of future possibilities. The demonstrator will be integrated into the focus group analyses as they become available. One result from the requirements analysis may be a typology of 'functionality' mapped to existing services/known developments.
Running throughout the project we shall conduct a Delphi forecasting exercise across the research community to gather views on likely / desirable futures for research support environments and services. This exercise will be conducted via the website.
Professor of Early-Modern History at the University of Sheffield and Director of the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield.
Professor of Learning Technologies and Director of Knowledge Media Design at De Montfort University, UK.
Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Art and Design, De Montfort University.
Research Assistant, Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield.
Technical Officer, Knowledge Media Design Unit, De Montfort University.
Director Humbul, University of Oxford.
Manager, ARTIFACT, Metropolitan University of Manchester.
Director, AHDS, Kings College, London.