Sunday, 17 July 2011
KULTURising research repositories
"...I can only add that research for art, craft and design needs a great deal of further research. Once we get used to the idea that we don't need to be scared of 'research' - or in some way protected from it - the debate can really begin."
(Christopher Frayling, RCA Rector (1996-2010), from: "Research in Art and Design" (Royal College of Art Research Papers, Vol 1, No 1, 1993/4). Royal College of Art, London).
On the Jul 6th meeting at JISC Brettenham House some planning was done as well for Sonex extension besides Swordv2's. In the framework of this project extension, Sonex is expected inter alia to further support the JISC Deposit Projects and continue to gather international deposit use cases, as well as to provide some
recommendations on how to improve deposit.
As part of this further involvement with JISC Deposit Projects, Sonex was attending the Kultivate Project Conference on Jul 15th at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).
Based at the Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), a research centre at the University for the Creative Arts, and funded by the JISC from late November 2010 to the end of July 2011 within the JISC Deposit strand, the Kultivate Project aims to "share and support the application of best practice in the development of institutional repositories that are appropriate to the specific needs and behaviours of creative and visual arts researchers". Kultivate builds upon the knowledge and experience of the Kultur II group, which grew out of the JISC funded Kultur project (2007-2009). The Group currently consists of over forty institutions and projects and is led by the VADS.
Specific goals of the Kultivate project are:
- to increase the rate of arts research deposit,
- to enhance the user experience for researchers, and
- to develop and sustain a sector-wide community of shared best practice in arts research repositories.
There are significant differences between Kultivate and the rest of the JISCdepo projects (RePosit, DURA and DepositMO) in the sense that while the three other ones deal specifically with semi-automation of widely-recognised content ingest into repositories (mainly by fostering platform interoperability), Kultivate seeks
to extend the coverage of institutional repositories to the creative arts environment, which is both rather different in nature to the mentioned well-accepted research and which hasn't been specifically addressed so far as scholarly output. In this regard, Kultivate can be both seen as sort of an outlier project and as the most challenging of them four.
After eight months of hard work, the Kultivate Project Conference put together a model set of talks and presentations (see programme and updated presentations) to introduce the project outcomes.
Several talks made introductory reflections on what creative arts research should be - with its specific peculiarities. The fact that the output from activities in the creative arts is or is not called research (artists themselves sound a bit surprised sometimes on being called researchers) doesn't seem that relevant anyway - main thing actually being it's scholarly output from many HEIs and Arts Schools, and as such it should be subject to standard deposit into institutional repositories.
However, it is often hard to persuade artists to have their work filed into repositories ("the repo doesn't fit the needs of creative artists" a frequent allegation for not taking part in the project). In this regard, advocacy is particularly critical for institutional projects being carried out in the area - they are breaking through in a discipline where no such thing could possibly exist (so far) as PubMed, Chemical Abstracts or arXiv.
See examples of effective advocacy under the Kultivate project umbrella at Goldsmiths Research Online and UAL Research Online, plus the own Kultivate Advocacy Toolkit, one of the project's main outputs.
Another relevant progress Kultivate is promoting is the setting of metadata standards for description of creative artworks (something that incidentally brings the project closer to the data management strand rather that to the deposit one, making it a quite heterodox one). See for instance 'The listening room' item at UAL Research Online with its four-tabbed description including metadata as well as images and videos (and thus effectively delivering an answer to frequent artists complain on work documentation: "I did a performance, not a video" or "Fine, but where am I?").
Performance Art Data Structure (PADS), for which the unit subject to description is the 'work' not the 'digital object', is yet another solution for complex description of creative arts output developed by the University of Bristol within the JISC-funded CAiRO Project for Complex Archive Ingest for Repository Objects (see example of PADS example record for 'Becoming snail' performance by Paul Hurley at JISC Digital Media).
PADS is also involved in the Europeana attempt to standardise perfomance metadata accross the EU.
Finally, a good (and growing) number of EPrints-based implementations of the Kultur enhancements for designing creative arts output-focussed institutional repositories were presented at the project conference (incidentally arising questions by DSpace-based IR managers on when something similar will be developed for DuraSpace). Kultivate has also provided (in cooperation with the University of Southampton team) a set of technical enhancements to the EPrints platform, among them on the MePrints application and the IRStats package.
Implementation of those enhancements by different institutions (either arts-focussed or general purposed ones with Arts Departments within them) is giving way to a wave of repository KULTURisation (ie being adapted to deal with creative arts output) across the UK that might well spread beyond that once working standards are consolidated. In the meantime the VADS-lead eNova project is already building upon the outputs of both Kultivate and Kultur projects.