Timeline from EPrints

Written by lac on March 21, 2010 – 5:59 pm -

There is now an EPrints export plugin that produces a suitable RSS feed for creating a timeline. It had to be changed to (a) list more than the default (10) number of recent items, potentially listing the whole repository if necessary and (b) report items by their date of publication in the literature, not date of deposit in the repository. This last point is one of those interesting departures from the normal Web model that a repository lives with: its resources are not Web pages, they are papers or articles that have a role in “the scholarly literature” as well as the “academic web”. This feed reports the “latest things in the literature that feature in the repository” not “the latest things in the repository”.


This means that we can easily create a timeline based on data from the repository (e.g. all papers on topic X which have more than 10 citations); once in the TimeLine editor, it is easy to tweek the individual items.

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TimeLine Magic

Written by lac on March 8, 2010 – 11:04 am -

Since timelines seem to be a key artefact for helping external parties (e.g. journalists) understand the gradual buildup of research contributions in an area, it seems appropriate that we should devote some resource to helping make timelines.

To this end we are looking at creating appropriate feeds from our three main school databases (eprints, projects and press releases) so that each will produce an ATOM feed of formatted entries corresponding to searches on a particular topic. These can then be used to automatically create a timeline, which can then be edited in the TimeLine desktop application for clarity.

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Written by lac on March 8, 2010 – 10:30 am -

During our recent progress meeting we were discussing the kind of material that we would need to pull together to create a “research case study”. We took “Agent Research” as the exemplar, because there is a decade of work in our school that comes under that heading. When we described the wealth of material available – papers in the repository, press releases going back to 2004 and and entries in the projects database – the journalist with whom we are working remarked that she would need a timeline to be able to see the contributions of all these projects as they had built up over the last ten years.

We looked at each other and thought – of course! A timeline – how obvious! The problem is that timelines are not very easy to create (Excel), or else the software that is available is not very intuitive (Similie) or attractive (Similie and Excel). Eventually I found an application called “TimeLine 3D” for the Mac. It produces very pretty looking timelines, with useful 3D renderings, and (even better) it accepts input from RSS/Atom feeds and it can be scripted.

To get the feel for it, I have created timelines for three pieces of extended research: Agents, Web Science and Repositories. The first mainly uses papers from the repository (the three most highly cited from each year), the second mainly uses press releases and the third project descriptions (and software developements). The first is a summary of significant activity, the third is an attempt to comprehensively cover the field. We are not sure yet which makes a good timeline for this purpose.

See: Agents Timeline, WebScience Timeline, EPrints Timeline

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Developing Impact Case Studies

Written by mjw on March 5, 2010 – 4:56 pm -

Useful meeting with the ECS communications team to discuss the creation of some exemplar Impact case studies based around the research in ECS. Influenced by the rumblings slowly emerging concerning the nature of REF impact statements but also looking at the broader picture, we have identified one or two good stories to run with and they are being worked up as I type.

As well as generating the case studies we will also be document the process of generating the case studies to continue to identify areas where we can improve the process of initial data capture about research, help agregate research data to facilitate the initial construction of case studies and also try to identify additional data sources that it may prove beneficial to try and capture at source rather than after the fact.

All told, a productive meeting and I’m looking forward to seeing the first draft of a case study emerge in the next couple of weeks.

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