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UOA 37 - Library and Information Management

University of Glasgow

RA5a: Research environment and esteem

The Humanities Advanced Technologies and Information Institute (HATII) during the relevant period established itself as an internationally recognised leader in its field, helping shape the international research agenda with a growing cohort of doctoral students, by producing over 150 publications, serving on thirty-six boards and committees, and being invited to speak at over a hundred conferences. HATII provides a rich and supportive learning and research environment particularly in its postgraduate programmes, while at the same time enabling projects across the Faculty of Arts that make innovative use of ICT. HATII actively collaborates at local, national, and international levels. Recent collaborative partners have included national libraries and archives, leading research institutes and universities, and government agencies, and in Glasgow the renowned Special Collections in the Library, the Hunterian Museum and the University Archives, all of which participate actively in our research. In the relevant period the Institute and its fellows in associated departments have raised crucial research and development income of over £3 million from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), British Academy (BA), European Union (EU), Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and New Opportunities Fund (NOF). This funding makes it possible for HATII to continue to produce and disseminate a wide range of world-class research outputs to a global audience within the Library and Information Science (LIS) community and increasingly beyond. These have included conferences, workshops, and reports for non-academic stakeholders, particularly in Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, and interactive dialogues exploiting video conferencing and related technologies with colleagues as far apart as America and Japan. 

 

Since the 2001 RAE the subject area has changed radically reflecting the emergence of further generations of technology that have collapsed the distinction between information objects. This necessitates an increasing engagement with other disciplines (anthropology, computing science, ethnography, history, material culture, philosophy, sociology, and the statistical sciences), and the publication of a wealth of new literature that argues for an integrated approach to the information sciences. HATII has taken a lead in this process by tilting the balance of research towards the knowledge-base and away from tools and services that characterised our 2001 submission. The Institute is driven by a strategy that has at its heart the development of postgraduate programmes leading to doctoral research that, by attracting students from across the disciplines, refreshes our thinking, inspires new lines of inquiry, and enhances our international reputation as a centre of research excellence. This process is overseen by research and postgraduate committees that interlock to create a stimulating environment in which to explore and develop new ideas. 

 

Intellectual and Theoretical Foundations

 

With its breadth of expertise in different disciplines, the Institute is uniquely placed to explore the intellectual and theoretical foundations of information that has its roots deep in western thought. Drawing on this tradition, we challenge the fashionable post-modernism that dominates the literature and seek to replace it with an alternative body of knowledge that addresses more robustly contemporary concerns where information flows are critical, such as the war on terror, the rise of religious fundamentalism, corporate scandals and globalisation. Notions of identity in their various manifestations are at the heart of much of our thinking, whether it be that of the family as represented by genealogical enquiry, or of communities in social networks, or that of digital objects themselves, or that of memory and the archive in a global digital environment. The resolution of many of the issues that concern us forces the information sciences, if they are to remain relevant, to engage directly with other disciplines that have a variety of theoretical perspectives. This is both rewarding and demanding, requiring intellectual rigour, a willingness to transcend disciplinary boundaries and above all a collaborative endeavour between ourselves and with our postgraduate students, several of whom have had articles accepted by peer-reviewed journals.

 

Stuart’s philosophical knowledge and depth of understanding informs our theoretical approaches to information.  Her specialisation is in cognition and consciousness, with a particular emphasis on machine consciousness, information and information-processing in both computational and post-computational frameworks an area of increasing interest in the neuro-sciences; they are addressed in her co-edited book Computation, Information, Cognition The Nexus and The Liminal (Cambridge Scholars, 2007). Under her supervision, Bill Cameron was awarded his PhD (July 2006) and continues to play an active part in the intellectual life of the Institute as a post-doctoral fellow.  Together with Moss, from a background in history and archives, and Currall, from one in statistics, Stuart collaborates in research into the foundational concepts of information sciences. Recently they have been asked to develop their ideas of digital identity for a special issue of the Journal of Applied Logic on the philosophy of computer science. Collectively with Anderson and Ross they supervise eight PhD students who are working on different theoretical aspects of information, ranging, for example, from the relationship of time, truth and accountability in the information world, and the role of identity to family history and gender.

 

Management and Curation of Digital Assets

 

Since its foundation, the Institute has had a strong suit in digital preservation and digitisation through national and international projects. These are described on the HATII website (http:.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk/research/research.html), including PLANETS (Preservation and Long-term Access through NETworked Services) and the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) that provides a national focus for research in the United Kingdom. Within this context Kim and Ross are investigating, with funding from the EPSRC e-Science programme, Automated Genre Classification as an essential step in the creation of an over-arching metadata extraction tool that would be effective across disparate information types.  The Institute is considering the implications of the digital environment beyond the mechanical and towards the complex questions that surround our ICT-enabled audit and compliance cultures, and particularly the relationship with such facilities as the semantic web and social networking. These raise significant management issues about the role of disruptive technologies, relativism, the contrast between private and public space in the shape, for example, of hand-held devices and diaries as opposed to servers and blogs, and the consequent blurring of the distinction between corporate/institutional and private communication. Research and practice in records management and digital preservation has shown that keeping everything is unmanageable and thus strategic questions around the ‘value’ of information become increasingly significant. Traditionally archival and records management appraisal have addressed this issue, but the processes are opaque to those outside these professions. Research on a more wide-ranging approach to value is being conducted particularly by Currall, initially in the JISC-funded espida project (http:.gla.ac.uk/espida/). 

Records and Information Management

 

Within HATII there is a strong commitment to records and information management (RIM), the bulwark of the audit culture, through the European Electronic Resource Preservation and Access Network (ERPANET, http:.erpanet.org) project, in which the Institute was the lead partner. ERPANET engaged 213 leading researcher-practitioners from 143 institutions in the public and private sectors in forty-three different countries, and produced nearly fifty publications, including preservation guidelines, a series of path-breaking reports, one hundred case studies, and three collections of essays including Managing and Archiving Records in the Digital Era: Changing Professional Orientations, Niklaus Bütikofer, Hans Hofman and Seamus Ross (eds.) (Hier+jetzt, 2006). DigitalPreservationEurope (DPE, http:.digitalpreservationeurope.eu) was funded under the EU’s FP6 programme to continue the work ERPANET had begun. We have adopted a risk-based approach to research and learning in this area that distances us from the existing literature, and crucially places RIM at a strategic level within organizations. Our shared approach to how RIM is situated in an increasingly compliance-driven environment found expression in the collection of essays by researchers in HATII and co-edited by Moss & Tough, Record-keeping in a Hybrid Environment (Chandos, 2006). These are issues that feature prominently on EU, UK and US government agendas, and Tough has extended such concerns to sub-Saharan African. This has led to his participation in witness seminars to shape future directions in records management in the region, participation in an initiative to evaluate record-keeping improvement projects there from a user perspective, and research visits to HATII by Commonwealth Fellows from Malawi and Kenya.

 

All these activities contribute directly to knowledge transfer from the academy to the private and public sector, and from RIM to the inter-government commitment to encourage transparency and accountability, particularly in developing countries. Mat-Isa, now a lecturer at the Universiti Teknologi in Malaya, completed his doctoral thesis in this area.

 

Cultural Heritage Informatics and Resource Discovery

 

The Institute has been engaged in a number of innovative projects that exploit the power of the Internet to enhance access to cultural heritage assets, such as TheGlasgowStory, funded under the NOF-digitise programme (http:.theglasgowstory.com), the AHRC funded Glasgow Emblem Digitisation Project (http:.ces.arts.gla.ac.uk/), and the Andy Goldsworthy Digital Catalogue (http:.goldsworthy.cc.gla.ac.uk/about/). TheGlasgowStory was singled out for praise in the external review of the NOF programme for the methodological advances made in metadata definition and application, workflow, and the design and presentation of interactive and participatory online resources. The Digital Culture Forum (DigiCULT), funded by the EU under FP5, investigated ways to improve the integration of leading edge technology with the cultural heritage sector across Europe (http:.digicult.info/).

 

Such projects contribute to the study from the user perspective of resource discovery in both the analogue and digital environment domains. Anderson ’s investigation of the working practices of academic historians has attracted considerable attention within the archive community. This has developed into an exploration of the potential for visualising user interfaces employing Zig-Zag structures, initially supported by an AHRC speculative research grant. A prototype has been developed based on rich descriptions from the catalogues of the Glasgow University Archives, the intention is to conduct further tests using the much larger catalogues of national institutions. As a component in the AX-SNet (Archival eXcellence in Information Seeking Studies Network) group of researchers, this work is contributing to the international development of metrics for archival research and the promotion of user focused archival science. Anderson and Ross supervise a doctoral student, investigating the description, cataloguing and retrieval needs of digital art on a larger scale using social-informatics theory. Ross co-supervised Kate Robinson, whose doctoral thesis, which explored the connection between image and the art of science, was published as A Search for the Source of The Whirlpool of Artifice: The Cosmology of Giulio Camillo (Dunedin, 2006).

 

Library and Information Science (LIS) Learning and Teaching

 

As we promised in our RAE2001 submission, the Institute has launched an MSc programme in Information Management and Preservation (IMP) to which all staff and research fellows contribute.  After just four years it attracts some twenty-five new students a year, many of whom have first-class honours degrees. The pioneering and innovative nature of the programme has been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the Society of Archivist accreditation teams, reflecting the wide-ranging relevance of the programme. The development of the MSc programme has encouraged our wider interest in LIS education in the digital environment. Currall, Moss and Ross have all contributed to and influenced the development of international debate on the future of LIS and archive education, emphasising particularly the balance between the knowledge-base and tools and service approaches, and the need for integration of any information service with the wider strategic goals of an organisation. Tough is involved with colleagues in Tanzania in developing a degree course that addresses the contribution records management and archives can make to tackling endemic corruption. Ross is on the advisory board of the Preserving Access to Our Digital Future: Building an International Digital Curation Curriculum (DigCCurr), funded by the US Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Madeline Sclater completed a doctorate, between HATII and the Glasgow School of Art, in creativity in digitally-based collaborative research. 

 

Research Funding

 

In the current period the Institute has attracted research funding of over £3 million that not only supports the specific projects cited, but also allows staff and students to engage with scholars from around the world. Currall, Moss, Dr Stephen Rawles (a Research Fellow) and Tough won British Academy Overseas Conference Awards, while Currall and Moss received equivalent funding from the Sasakawa Foundation, and Tough from the Society of Archivists. Anderson and Hannah Little, a PhD student, held AHRC grants. Ross holds major grants from the European Union, the JISC and the ESPRC. 

 

Sustainability of the Research Environment

 

Our postgraduate programmes are critical to the Institute’s future vitality, through sustaining research projects and providing much needed research capacity in the United Kingdom and internationally. Our MSc and eight PhD students are already making an impact in the discipline with invitations to speak at conferences and forthcoming publications in peer-reviewed journals by Craig Gauld, Little, Leo Konstantelos and Dr Ruth Frendo. Five of our sixty-five MSc graduates have secured professional university appointments. We will continue to build our doctoral programme particularly through collaborative awards, and seek to attract post-doctoral fellows. Our mentoring programme and our weekly research seminars are critical components in promoting intellectual and personal growth. These bring together our postgraduate students, our young researchers working on externally funded projects, members of staff, and international scholars (http:.hatii.arts.gla.ac.uk/ressems.html). We are committed to developing the careers of all members of staff by providing them with the necessary knowledge and skills to benefit from an exhilarating and well-found environment. Our mentoring is exemplified by McHugh, who has successfully migrated from a service delivery to a research role. He has led the development of the evidence-based Digital Repository Audit Method Based on Risk Assessment (DRAMBORA) methodology for the DCC and DPE (http:.repositoryaudit.eu/); it was among the short list for Digital Preservation Coalition’s 2007 Digital Preservation Award. Our young research assistants Daisy Abbott, Milena Dobreva, Perla Innocenti, Sarah Jones, and Adam Rusbridge are all publishing results of their work and are securing research grants in their own right; Abbott from the JISC and Innocenti from the European Commission under FP7.  Evidence of the sustainability of our research environment is signalled in four ways: increasing number, quality, and publication positioning of our outputs, the growth in our postgraduate student numbers, the persistent increase in our research income, and the increasing numbers of research assistants leading projects in HATII.

 

The University has supported the Institute by promoting Ross to a chair of Humanities Informatics and Digital Curation. Anderson, Currall, Ross and Stuart have all benefited from periods of study leave that have led directly to publications, while Moss used the first element of his research chair to complete a major study of Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, The Magnificent Castle of Culzean and the Kennedy Family (Edinburgh University Press, 2003), and Nelson’s Surgeon: William Beatty, Naval Medicine and the Battle of Trafalgar (with Laurence Brockliss and John Cardwell) (OUP, 2003). 

 

International Collaboration 

 

Through its projects and research activities the Institute collaborates with over 100 prestigious HEIs, national institutions and agencies, and private sector companies, including the British Library, the European Space Agency, Universita’ degli studi di Urbino, International Centre for Art and New Technology in Prague, The National Archives at Kew, Center for Information as Evidence at UCLA and the Inter-faculty Initiative on Information Studies at the University of Tokyo. In 2006/7 we piloted an international research seminar using video conferencing, which brought together researchers and doctoral students at Glasgow and the School of Information of Library Science at the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill). Subjects discussed included developing a digital library lifecycle, the digital curation of scientific data, institutional repositories and the value of digital preservation. Our research reputation attracts international scholars to HATII. During this RAE period we have had ten distinguished scholars, who held fellowships at HATII for extended periods, as well as numerous visiting scholars who came to collaborate on particular research issues for short periods, including Professors Anne Gilliland (UCLA, 2002), Ross Harvey (Charles Sturt University, 2006/7) and Luciana Duranti (University of British Columbia, 2007).

 

 Esteem

The recognition HATII has received for the outputs from its projects depends on the contribution of individuals. During the relevant period the Institute helped shape the international research agenda and positioned itself at the heart of all European initiatives on the management and preservation of digital assets. This achievement is evident in our role in nine international consortia, the growth in our research student body, demand for consultancy, policy advice, keynote speeches and invited presentations, and the leading role staff play in a variety of editorial boards, learned societies and conference organisations. For example through the DCC, HATII has contributed to the development of thirty workshops seminars and conferences, and in November 2007 with DELOS, in which the HATII is a leading partner, InterPARES, and the L’Accademia nazionale dei Lincei, the development of an international conference on Appraisal in the Digital World. Both DRAMBORA and espida have been adopted by international institutions and repositories. 

 

Fellowships and Prizes

 

Moss held the Frederick A. and Marion S. Pottle Fellowship in 18th-century British Studies at the Beinecke Library at Yale (2003). His book on William Beatty won the Society of Authors and Royal Society of Medicine non-medical prize in 2006, and his  article ‘Archivist, Friend or Foe’ was highly commended by Emerald Journals in 2005.

Ross was Visiting Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and Visiting Scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford (2005-6).

Tough was named Records Manager of the Year in 2002 by the Records Management Society of Great Britain.

 

Advice and Consultancy

 

Policy advice has been provided to the European Commission’s 5th, 6th and 7th Framework Programmes (Ross), the BSI Committee on Records Management, Government of Tanzania (Tough) and the RLG and NARA TRAC task force (McHugh). As an advisor to the EC Ross contributed to the development and take-up by Member States of the Lund Principles in Digitisation (2001) and the drafting of the Resolution on Long-term Preservation of Digital Memory (2002). He served as co-chair of the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and DELOS (EU) working group on Digital Archiving and Preservation (2002-3).

 

Organisations that have benefited from staff consultancy include International Olympic Committee’s Information Management Department, Edinburgh University Archives, ProQuest (Anderson) and the British Council (Tough). Ross’s research with the National Library of New Zealand was instrumental in releasing $NZ 24 million of funding for their digital library programme.

 

Editorial Boards

 

Membership of international, peer review, journal boards include: International Journal on Digital Libraries, Archivi e Computer, Digitalia, ACM Journal of Computers and Cultural Heritage, DCC’s Digital Curation Manual (Ross), Philosophical Quarterly, Analysis and Metaphysics (Stuart), Program: Electronic Library and Information Systems (Anderson), Archives and Society (Moss), Journal of E-Government (Johnson), and Records Management Journal (Tough). 

 

Professional Involvement

 

Ross, Chair of the JISC Images Working Group, and member of Scientific Advisory Board of the Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the International Advisory Board for the IMLS funded DigCCurr initiative (USA), and British Academy‘s Policy Study Review Team on Research and Information E-Resources

Stuart serves on the International Assessment Panel, Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences, is Regional Director of the European Branch of Computing and Philosophy, and a member of the American Philosophical Association Committee for Philosophy and Computing and the Steering Committee for the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP).

Anderson is a founder member of AX-SNet, Convenor of the Association for History and Computing, and on the Executive Committee of the American Association for History and Computing.

Moss has served as a member of Panel 6 of the AHRC, is a Board Member of the National Trust for Scotland, a member of the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council on National Records and Archives, convenor of the Senior Historians Group, and a non-executive director of the National Archives of Scotland. 

Currall is an elected Member of Council of the Royal Statistical Society and the European Board of the International Association for Statistical Computing.

 

Plenary and Keynote Addresses

Plenary and keynote address include: EU Presidency Conferences (Corfu 2003, Den Haag 2004, Austria 2006, Portugal 2007), Schweizerisches Bundesarchiv (Bern 2004), National Library of New Zealand (Wellington 2003) NHPRC Fellows’ Address (Chapel Hill 2006), CODATA Conference (Montréal 2002), ECDL (Budapest 2007) and iPRES (Beijing 2007) (Ross).

Colloque Archives, archivists, archivistique dans l'Europe du Nord-Ouest (Lyon 2004), and the Archivists and Records Managers Postgraduate Study Conference, sponsored by the AHRC (2005) (Moss). Moss and Currall gave a keynote address at the FARMER conference at Aberystwyth (2006) that was repeated at the Second Asia-Pacific Conference for Archival Educators and Trainers (2nd APCAE) Tokyo (2006),

The Center for Creative Inquiry, California (2006, 2007), Kant Conference, NTNU, (Trondheim, 2007), From the Body of Knowledge to the Knowing Body, Interuniversity Centre Dubrovnik (2007), House of Lords Conference on Neuroscience and the Self (2006), "The Imagination", Radio 4's In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, 28 November 2002 (Stuart).

 

Conferences

 

The Institute has been instrumental in the creation and dissemination of knowledge by organising conferences and workshops, including: 

  • DELOS Digital Preservation Summer School (Sofia Antipolis 2005, San Miniato 2006, Pisa 2007),
  • DCC Workshop on Persistent Identifiers (2005),
  • Annual Conference of the Association for History and Computing (2004 – 2007),
  • Society of Archivists Annual Conference (2004),
  • Computing and Philosophy in Europe (Organiser 2003; Co-organiser 2005 and 2006),
  • Archaeological Informatics, Beyond Technology (2001),
  • The Scottish Enlightenment in its European Context 2001 (International).

 

 

Future strategy

 

Information science is experiencing an explosion of interest and attention that attracts high-quality research students from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and backgrounds and informs research funding initiatives, such as the recently announced AHRC 'Beyond Text: Sounds, Voices, Images, and Objects' strategic programme. We will engage with these by continuing to investigate deep intellectual questions that arise from and surround the information society; drawing out what can be considered to be ‘new’ and the way in which evolving web-based utilities are changing information handling, distribution and seeking. As our current research students complete their theses, our understanding of the meanings of identity in the information environment and the theories that support them will be deepened and extended. This work is pivotal to our strategic thinking and will place the Institute in an increasingly strong position to engage with a range of significant debates about the information society and the knowledge economy. Further publications are already in the press or have been commissioned, for example, Moss is contributing a chapter to a Sage handbook on organizational behaviour and two sections to a history of the book in Scotland, and Ross is completing his major study of digital curation begun during his study leave in 2005-6. Over the next five years we will:

  • investigate the impact of the digital order and the growing regulatory and compliance environment on the management of records and its relationship with archives through our scholar-practitioner interactions.
  • continue our work on determining the intrinsic value of information which will help to develop a broader understanding of information selection, privileging and traditional appraisal as practised by archivists and records managers. Our research into this subject will extend into an evaluation and development of the ways in which value may be expressed in the cultural heritage community and beyond.
  • conduct research into the various meanings of trust and the concept of trusted repositories. This research will extend into wider ethical considerations concerning the repurposing of information in social networks often referred to collectively as ‘Web 2.0’.
  • continue to seek support for research into the development of more flexible and innovative approaches to finding aids and intelligent interfaces for digital collections, for research into areas of digital curation and preservation, and for work on improving preservation processes including automation of ingest processes.
  • continue leading on research into the management and curation of digital assets, defining and prototyping models and testbeds, integrating preservation features into the design of virtual libraries, and investigating the potential for automating the privileging/appraisal processes. This research strand will be especially evident through HATII’s involvement in the recently funded projects PLANETS and CASPAR (under FP6) and SHAMAN (Sustaining Heritage Access through Multivalent ArchiviNg) (under FP7).
  • further develop our international collaborations with information researchers working in non-Western cultures in both Africa and Asia, so as to gain a better understanding of the role and significance of variations in information culture and how they impact on practice, governance and behaviour.
  • contribute to the development of an internationally-recognised, formal decision-making process regarding which information to keep and which to destroy based on an assessment of benefits and risks to the organisation holding it. HATII’s continued contribution to the development of a formal risk-based methodology is becoming a significant cross-cutting element in our approach to the IMP MSc course and is integral to our knowledge transfer initiatives such as those led by Currall and McHugh. We see this as a vital area for development and as a crucial element of research around trust in information and in services such as repositories.

 

All this research will result in peer-reviewed publications, knowledge transfer initiatives, and industrial collaborations. We recognize the need to regularly review our strategic priorities and to offer our postgraduate students and researchers well defined lines of enquiry. HATII’s internal and external research and postgraduate committees will continue to review our research agenda annually, approve masters and doctoral dissertation topics and review student progress which is reported to the Faculty’s Higher Degrees Committee.