Link: Digital Repository Programme Support Project and Repository Research Team, final report (pdf).
Link: Digital Repository Programme Support Project and Repository Research Team, Final Report (doc).
The Digital Repositories Programme Support Project (DRPSP) and the Repository Research Team (RRT) were two phases of a project that supported the JISC’s repository related programmes from 2005 to 2009. The project comprised staff from two JISC services (now Innovation Support Centres): two from UKOLN and 0.5 FTE (rising to 1 for the final year) at CETIS; it was initially managed by Rachel Heery of UKOLN, and in its final year by Lorna Campbell and Phil Barker of CETIS.
In its original DRPSP phase the project focussed primarily on support for individual projects in the JISC programme, provided by team members engaging with projects through several thematic clusters. This allowed the team to become familiar with project activities, giving them a detailed overview of the programme as a whole and enabling them to provide advice to projects about relevant related work. During this period, DRSP ran a number of support workshops aimed at increasing the sector’s understanding of issues such as describing and managing complex/aggregate objects, using UML, writing scenarios and use cases and developing service usage models for the eFramework. The team also played a significant role in incubating a number of high profile technical developments, most notably the Scholarly Works Application Profile (SWAP) and the Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD) protocol.
When the duration of the project was extended to support the 2007-2009 Repository and Preservation Programme, its remit was also changed to focus on providing JISC with strategic support by contributing to the understanding of what the programme achieved and what barriers had been faced; contributing to and reporting on relevant interoperability initiatives; exploring relevant new developments in understanding and promoting the interoperability of repositories. This was in part due to the changing requirements of the JISC and the projects funded, and in part due to the establishing of the Repository Support Project, which took over the remit for direct project support and institutional advocacy. To reflect the change in emphasis the project name was changed to the Repository Research Team (RRT).
During this phase the project undertook work aimed at modelling and understanding the repository environment. For example, the project investigated the use of metaphors drawn from the biological science of ecology to represent repository and service interaction; considering the strengths and limitations of different approaches to articulating or modelling relationships between repositories and other services and factors in the information environment. The RRT also supported the planned synthesis and evaluation of the Repository and Preservation Programme by innovative use of a blogging platform which they used to post information about relevant evidence found by trawling project outputs. These posts were tagged by evaluation or synthesis theme, effectively creating a public annotated index of project outputs.
Despite the challenges of managing such a long running cross service support project we believe that funding dedicated staff in existing services and innovation support centres and bringing them together to form a coherent project is generally a good model for programme support. This enables the support team to leverage the resources and expertise of the host service or centre. In addition the services and innovation support centres are also in a good position to synthesise issues arising from the programme, relate them to broader strategic issues and feed them back to JISC.