Thursday, 30 June 2011

Anticipated benefits

Anticipated benefits

The AEIOU project’s aim is to increase the visibility and usage of academic research taking place in Wales by aggregating Welsh institutional repository activity data to provide a “Frequently viewed together” recommendation service, such as those used by Amazon and many other e-commerce websites and also encourage the greater use of repositories across Wales.

Anticipated benefits of the project are:

Reporting (using the core activity data)

The activity data generated through use of the recommendation service will provide a central, reliable information data source for institutional reporting within a national context. We have found that Administrators are not always aware of the statistics available through repository software and that often the log files required for this are missing or not configured correctly. Further more, some repositories are not enabled with Google Analytics. Reports can be generated to identify ‘hits’, items most viewed, items downloaded, etc, and can assist Senior Management when formulating research policy.

Promotion (via the recommendation service)

  • Raising the profile of Welsh research and enhancing the reputation of the individual institutions: The repository acts as a showcase for the Institutions’ research projects and outputs
  • Increasing collaboration between institutions and individual researchers by directing those who are interested in a specific area of research they have identified in a repository to other similar research articles in the same repository and in other repositories across Wales. This upholds the HEFCW and WAG strategies outlined below:

The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) Corporate Strategy states its intention as to promote a culture of collaboration within Wales and to work towards the expectation outlined in the Welsh Assembly Government document ‘For Our Future’ to “increase the impact of university research, through targeting support on areas of strength and national priority, and promoting collaboration.” Strategic collaboration in Wales is evidenced through existing and emerging research partnerships, such as the Aber-Bangor partnership and the St David’s Day declaration.
  • Attracting postgraduates: Institutions are increasingly trying to attract postgraduates and the recommendation service should encourage potential students to look for related research topics and be directed towards those Welsh HEIs where the research is being carried out.
  • Helping to support and sustain the existing repository network and infrastructure by making research more visible, attracting more visitors, and increasing repository usage.

Success criteria
This will be measured by an increase in activity data for items held in the institutional repositories and through a user focus group to explore the impact on repository users.

Future Sustainability
The project is directly aligned with the HEFCW corporate strategy, in particular their aims to secure “sustainable excellent research in higher education by building up quality and quantity to strengthen the research base in Wales.”  By increasing both the visibility and critical mass of the research output from Wales the long term impact of the project is naturally embedded into national policy and institutional strategies for research. 

Potential Funding sources
The following could be approached for financial support:

  • HEFCW - see strategy document
  • Institutions’ Research Offices – the repository and the recommendation service can serve to promote research within and across institutions in Wales.
  • Research Councils – offering a solution to multi-disciplinary and cross institutional research output retrieval


Thursday, 9 June 2011

AEIOU First Focus Group meeting

Yesterday we held the first AEIOU Focus Group meeting to demonstrate the Recommendation service, and it was trialled by the Group for the first time. Four of the six core repositories had the service deployed - and the remaining two will be available shortly once some upgrade issues are resolved. The Focus Group searched on a provided list of words and it was fascinating to see the recommendation service start to work - with user activity triggering recommendations across repositories as users moved from one search item to another. There was quite a bit of 'noise' to begin with but gradually the viewed item lists started to become meaningful. An online questionnaire was provided and participants were asked to complete this before leaving the meeting (
Feedback on the testing exercise and the recommendation service was very positive and group discussions led to several useful suggestions on how the service could be improved to provide added value. See below for key suggestions:

  • Identify repository an item is from - should include this in results
  • Views vs downloads - consider weighting, ie. Number of times viewed
  • Number of recommendations. Differences of opinion on this – 5 or 6 seem about right.
  • Location of recommendations on item page - above or below? Maybe useful to have a link at the top of the record to take you to the recommendations at the bottom of the record.
  • Session time - 30 mins? Consensus that this is about right.
  • Added value: Ability to produce reports from aggregated data – per institution/per item/per selection of items –such as for Sconul and SUSHI reporting.
  • Google search (restricted to the 12 repositories) based on the item metadata could be added to suggest ‘similar items’ alongside recommended items.