Open Impact project Kick Off meeting

Written by lac on January 19, 2010 – 2:54 pm -

These are the notes from the Open Impact project Kick Off meeting which took place on 18/1/10


Mark Weal – lecturer, ECS. Interested in telling stories (narratives) about research.

Joyce Lewis – communications manager, ECS.

Hugh Davis – head of learning societies lab, ECS.

Colin Smith – Repository manager at the Open University. Interest in the project but not sure how to get involved at the moment. Interested in how repositories can gather impact information. Store impact alongside the research it is about.

Bill Mitchell – Director of BCS Academy of Computing to cater for academics. Public engagement with academic aspects of computing. Making the wider audience aware of value of real computing research.

Sarah Chaytor UCL. UCL developing institutional research information service.

Wendy White – Manager of institutional repository and part of REF team. Can it be used for collecting information for the REF. Improving interdisciplinary impact.

Robin Axford – Research and Innovation Services, Southampton. Faciliating the research lifecycle project. Looks at whole lifecycle including outputs and impact.

Les Carr – Lecturer in ECS and EPrints repository platform and development. Open access push. Want to use repositories for everything. or, trying to span the gap between individuals and the Web. Encourage people to document information and make it available so it can be useful to a wider community. Take things that are happening to individuals that build up over time and make them available to other communities.

Nick Gibbins – lecturer in ECS. Organisational knowledge management using Semantic Web. Gathering information about projects and research in the UK on a previous RI project (dot ac).

Chris Gutteridge – lead developer on EPrints. Head of Web for ECS.

Dave Challis – Webmaster for ECS.

Patrick McSweeney – developer (ECS)

Marcus Ramsden – developer (ECS).

Discussions based on project proposal:

Bill – EPSRC and RCUK want the BCS Academy to push the impact agenda.

Joyce/Robin – Not clear University is engaging with the learned societies.

Sarah – links at an individual level but not at University level

Bill – Often work at a departmental level

Les – Are we going out on a limb by working on this relationship

Robin – Not sure that is the right question. Growing importance of multidisciplinary approach may not sit comfortably with learned societies.

Sarah – Not getting drawn down a path of definitions of impact and letting institutions tell the stories about what they want.

Bill – Not interested in gathering the numbers.

Wendy  – Still exploring the impact and ref. Complexity is coming out in the pilot.Some disciplines will want to tell a twenty year story. Moving between institutions becomes a big issue with this. This project could help contribute to that debate.

Colin – The criteria is very specific so the actual impact has to have happened in a very short window. 2-3 year window. Very specific thing to capture. Tories have said they may well suspend the REF for two years and abandon the  impact element.

Les – When we put this together we focussed on the story part of the impact rather than the numbers and measures.

Les – Are there parts of the impact indicators document we should be using.

Sarah – Yes, we should try and use them.

Colin – Focus on the collective rather than the individual. When we think in terms of repositories, linking up individual outcomes into clusters and gathering impact on that.

Chris – Could identify groups after the fact.

Wendy – collaborative working, not just a REF thing. Will be fewer bigger bids in the future.

Chris – secondary impact could be important also.

Wendy – Internal and external interfaces. Preservation can be important to help maintain that story.

Les – There becomes a point where metrics become a story.

– David Schulenberger’s closing keynote at SPARC DL meeting (Nov 2008): the job of the institutional repository is to tell the story of “what we’ve achieved” to its faculty and its institution’s funders and supporters. People who don’t want to put stuff in repositories often don’t want to engage with the public, or other audiences.

Going through the three use cases:

1) Stuff not being directly to hand or available. Collecting stuff together easily.

Developing case studies – considered, analytical, thorough.

2) Gathering information that may be useful for audit or proving claims of impact. Using lightweight tools to quickly capture information. Get clues about what is happening and capturing that.

3) Need to be able to create presentations easily from the high impact information.

New England journal of medicine, automatically creates slide sets about the research.

4) Looking at economic factors and interpretations. Can we make this simpler. Might get this information from bids. Can provide chain of evidence. Need to present an information context.

5) Developing case studies, taking a retrospective approach.

Joyce – all about timescales.

Bill – simple stories telling how things have changed, backed up by facts. Want to engage people with what is going on in the background by telling stories and give them clear evidence of how things have changed.

For industrial collaborators we want them to read our material and be enticed to give us lots of money. Want a track record to show how our technologies have had an impact. Anecdotal is good. And linked back into the chain of evidence. Emerging story, emerging impacts.

Not creating research journalists but to help the process along.

Forensic impact analysis. Be able to respond quicker to trends. Want to capture public engagement, conversation with industrialists, etc.  notability.

Linking repositories of other institutions that are collaborators on projects.

Might need a use case for someone putting together a case study of impact for REF.

Starts with outlining the research outcomes intended from the research.

Need to keep it very basic. Perhaps improve the bid storing mechanism.

Limit to the communications team know how and also academics struggling to communicate their research to the communications team.

Might be useful to provide a user friendly model for academics to desrcibe their research in impact terms.

Colin: At OU making use of request copy function to use as anecdotal evidence of impact. Bit of a competition between the open access policy or asking people to request information.

Bill talks about the BCS Impact repository for people to put research outputs in and be stored nationally. Good from a society point of view because the stories are from a lot of University.

Les: What are going to be in your repositories?

Bill: The case studies. Not meant to be prescriptive but we will try and engage people to get them to present their case studies as a story. Often get cold called for experts in particular area so we could use the repository to find experts.

Colin: Not sure how keen people would be in sharing impact case studies.

Discussing about how the tools might be trialled in OU and UCL. Both are keen to try and help.

Les/Robin: Potential for using a model of impact development to drive the process of impact collection of an extended period of time. E.g. Robin’s melon visualisation (to be discussed further).


The key issue seems to be collecting information that allows press releases and research case studies to be prepared.

Press release: timely, attention grabbing. Provides stories of breakthroughs or activities.

Research case study: considered, analytical, thorough. Provides evidence of impact.

Evidence may come from external sources (news, journals), as well as internal (CRIS, background section of research bids). It may be scraped from newspapers, websites and blogs in the form of ‘forensic impact analysis’. Notability and trending should not be underestimated as ways of alerting researchers to their instantaneous impact. Impact is an ongoing story, inevitably tied to the ebb and flow of current issues and interests in the public sphere. We should engage in ‘impact management’, similarly to ‘search engine optimization’.

Reworked work/cases

Create, in conjunction with BCS, a national ‘high impact CS research’ repository for depositing ‘research case studies’ (which may be simply powerpoints of presentations about a group’s expertise, or it may be structured and argued analysis of extended research impact in a field).

Make tools to help researchers deposit evidence of impact

Make tools to help comms managers pull together the evidence to create press releases and research case studies

Discussion Whiteboard Images

Subsequent BCS Repository Discussions

Southampton to produce a pilot ‘national subject high-impact research repository’ for BCS, which will be transferred to the BCS for hosting/management post-April.

BCS repository will collect ‘research case studies’ (RCS) of high impact research (HIR). Exactly what constitutes HIR will be decided by the institutions who submit the work; exactly what constitutes an RCS will evolve over time. Initially it may just be a publicity PowerPoint presentation (as suggested by Robin Axford) or it may be an analytical report (as suggested by Sarah Chaytor).

The repository is NOT collecting research outputs (it would have a hideous copyright position). Nor is it highlighting individuals or institutions. It exists to promote computing research.

The repository will be configured such that its deposits are of type ‘Research Case Study’ with the usual repository bibliographic metadata recast to be appropriate to this type. For example,  there must be a clear distinction between ‘author/creator’ of the RCS and the authors/creators of the HIR.

The repository must contain sufficient metadata to allow the BCS to produce various reports and visualisations for its stakeholders, including lists of (and links to) individuals, teams, organisations, projects and publications. It will not maintain authoritative lists of entities (people etc), but it will expose information suitable to engage in Linked Data applications.

The repository may contain information provided about individuals (specifically: photographs and brief bios) but it will not operate a ‘user profile’ service, maintaining up-to-date career histories, biographies and CVs of individuals. Such a service may be a future extension that the learned society may wish to offer, potentially as a subscription.

Proposed Metadata

Basic bibliographic metadata re deposited document (RCS) plus

  • Keywords / tags
  • What’s the story? (abstract of RCS, the interesting part extracted., the elevator pitch)
  • Who was involved
  • What are the implications for ME & what are the implications for SOCIETY
    • For a CEO this may mean ‘what are the implications for my business’ and ‘how will this change the market in which I operate?’
    • For a JOURNALIST this may mean ‘give me facts, analyses and contexts’
    • For the public this may mean ‘how will it change my life and my family’s life’ and ‘how will it change society’
  • Where do I go next: if I’m interested, whom do I contact (this may be a research office, or an innovation and business consultant)
  • Further reading: links to the University’s own pages and promotion on this work. May be press packs. Should contain more detail about the work, but not in the BCS domain or under their control.

The following items are key information for reports, visualisations, mashups and the Linked Data agenda.

  • Key Individuals
  • Name, affiliation, URL. Poss photo and brief bio.
  • Key Projects
  • Key Publications
  • Key Partners

The RCS may describe work from many people, interdisciplinary across research teams, collaborative across research institutions and partnered with a number of commercial and industrial concerns.

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