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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