International Association of Scientific and Technological University Libraries

IATUL News Alerts

Archive September 2009

E-Curator: A 3D web-based archive for conservators and curators

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:40:29 p.m.

Digital heritage technologies promise a greater understanding of cultural objects cared for by museums. Recent technological advances in digital photography and image processing not only offer a high level of documentation, they also provide powerful analytical tools for conservation monitoring of cultural objects.

Museums are increasingly turning to digital documentation and relational databases to administer their collections for a variety of tasks: detailed description, intervention planning, loan. Online collection databases support the remote browsing of collections.

Such imaging technologies open up radically new ways of knowing and engaging with collections, something which we are only really beginning to understand as of now. From remote accessing of objects to 3D displays and documentation, digital heritage technologies offer the potential to transform the very nature of the museum experience both from a professional viewpoint, and from the perspective of the visitor.

The E-Curator Project was set up in 2007 precisely to explore some of these issues, using state-of-the-art imaging facilities at University College London (UCL). A collaborative project involving anthropologists, curators, and engineers, the principal aim of the project was to develop a new tool for museum and heritage conservation documentation. The use of an Arius3D laser scanner, housed in the UCL Geomatic Engineering Department, has enabled us to experiment with 3D documentation and the collaborative sharing of virtual 3D images of museum artefacts. We are evaluating 3D laser scanning for cultural heritage with methods from engineering metrology, bridging the gaps between conservation, curation and metric survey.

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Knowledge exchange comparative report on costs and benefits of open access

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:36:25 p.m.

In June 2009 a study was completed that had been commissioned by Knowledge Exchange and written by Professor John Houghton, Victoria University, Australia. This report on the study was titled: "Open Access – What are the economic benefits?

A comparison of the United Kingdom, Netherlands and Denmark." This report was based on the findings of studies in which John Houghton had modelled the costs and benefits of Open Access in three countries. These studies had been undertaken in the UK by JISC, in the Netherlands by SURF and in Denmark by DEFF.

In the three national studies the costs and benefits of scholarly communication were compared based on three different publication models. The modelling revealed that the greatest advantage would be offered by the Open Access model, which means that the research institution or the party financing the research pays for publication and the article is then freely accessible.
Adopting this model could lead to annual savings of around EUR 70 million in Denmark, EUR 133 million in The Netherlands and EUR 480 in the UK. The report concludes that the advantages would not just be in the long term; in the transitional phase too, more open access to research results would have positive effects. In this case the benefits would also outweigh the costs.

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Is there such a thing as free software: the pros and cons of open-source software

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:33:59 p.m.

Today’s higher education environment is marked by heightened accountability and decreased budgets. In such an environment, no higher education institution can afford to ignore alternative approaches that could result in more effective and less costly solutions. Open-source software (OSS) can serve as a viable alternative to traditional proprietary software (PS), but to ensure that OSS is selected and deployed effectively requires:

• Understanding the OSS licensing model
• Knowing how to determine when it makes sense to use OSS
• Managing your OSS use effectively

The history of OSS is well documented and available through a number of forums. Available solutions initially consisted primarily of IT infrastructure tools, but have now expanded to include a wide range of solutions for end users as well. During my tenure as director of UCLA Software Licensing, OSS usage has evolved from the occasional department server running Linux to include such products as Moodle and Shibboleth serving as the basis for enterprise-wide services.

This article summarizes some of the key issues to evaluate when considering implementing an OSS solution. The approaches outlined herein have been crafted to meet the needs of a decentralized institution like the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Depending upon your institution’s organizational structure, you might need to implement a variation of this approach.

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OA Network: An integrative open access infrastructure for Germany

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:31:45 p.m.

This article describes concepts, development, and implementation of an overall Open Access infrastructure for Germany. Currently, the joint project Open Access Network is facilitating comprehensive and value-added services built on top of distributed Institutional Repositories. Using the OAI-PMH as the harvesting mechanism, Open Access (OA) Network furnishes an open and extensible architecture to form the technological base for manifold enhanced services. It not only provides a personalized end user platform but also serves as an aggregator node for passing data to other service providers (e.g., DRIVER). Moreover, OA Network provides a testbed for the development of software to implement value-added services. OA Network is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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Understanding global activity in higher education and research

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:29:25 p.m.

This study, prepared by Mindset Research, has looked at activities and developments in the fields of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure supporting the higher education and research sectors in ten countries across the world: Australia; Canada; Denmark; Germany; Korea; Japan; the Netherlands; New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Executive Summary
Given JISC's familiarity with and expertise in these areas in the UK, the profile of the UK differs from that of the other study countries in its approach and structure and attempts to see the UK from a global perspective (i.e. the UK's e-Learning and e-Infrastructure landscape as others see it). The study provides a snapshot of e-learning and e-infrastructure activities that support the higher education and research communities in 10 countries.

It is necessary to make a brief point about the language and terminology used in these areas. Throughout this report, the terms 'e-Learning' and 'e-Infrastructure' are used on the basis that these are the terms which appear to have been adopted most widely across the world to embrace the themes that this study concerns itself with. In particular, 'e-Learning', rather than 'on-line learning' has been used as it appears to be considered to be the more all-encompassing term across the countries we reviewed. Across the countries included in this study, the term 'on-line learning' tends to be used and understood in more narrow terms – perhaps describing only the process of learning delivered by the internet, rather than the employment of a wide range of technologies and practices to aid learning and teaching which is made possible through ICT in the broadest sense.

This report attempts to offer a flavour of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure activity in each of the study countries and in particular evaluates the geographic, economic and cultural factors which shape the way that e-Learning and e-Infrastructure are developing. It needs to be stressed that this study is not an attempt to objectively and exhaustively identify all aspects of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure in each country. We have endeavored to highlight some interesting, innovative and important initiatives – but in so doing we offer no guarantees that major initiatives have not been over-looked. Any subjects with technology at their core are subject to the problem of being out-of-date almost before they can be reported. This is clearly true of e-Learning and e-Infrastructure developments. Additionally the scope of this study – e-Learning and e-Infrastructure across ten different countries – is considerable and without limitless time and resources, the best that can be achieved is a snapshot of each country.

What is apparent is that while some countries share certain characteristics, such as population sizes and densities, systems of government and even language, in almost all cases there are factors unique to each which have shaped the way in which e-Learning and e-Infrastructure have evolved and will continue to influence their development in the future.

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Communicating knowledge: How and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings

Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:20:31 p.m.

This report looks at how researchers publish and why, including the motivations that lead them to publish in different formats and the increase in collaboration and co-authorship. It also explores how researchers decide what to cite and the influence of research assessment on their behaviours and attitudes.

This report has been published by the RIN in conjunction with JISC. A short podcast is also available, interviewing Michael Jubb, Director of the RIN and Neil Jacobs, Programme Manager Information Environment at JISC.

Researchers want to develop new knowledge and understanding of the world we live in and to communicate their findings to others. Increasingly, however, they are being pulled in different directions in deciding which channels of communication they should adopt, from professional society journals and conferences to less formal means such as social networking tools.

So just how do researchers decide when, where and how to communicate their work? Based on evidence gathered from an extensive literature review, bibliometric analysis, focus groups, interviews and an online survey, our report presents a comprehensive view of how researchers communicate their work across the range of disciplines in the UK.

The report examines the motivations, incentives and constraints that lead UK researchers in different subjects and disciplines to publish and disseminate their work in different ways. It explores how and why they cite other researchers’ work, as well as how their decisions on publication and citation are influenced by past and anticipated research assessment.

This research has been carried out at a time when there has been considerable debate about the format of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). We hope that the key findings identified in the report may help to illuminate some of the issues raised in the continuing discussions about the structure of the REF.

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