Last Friday, the Kultivate project hosted the ‘Kultivating Kultur’ conference at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), London. There were around 80 attendees representing over 50 institutions, projects and national bodies, including many members of the ever expanding Kultur II Group. The purpose of the event was to present six Kultivate case studies about aspects of increasing arts research deposit. These were framed by a keynote presentation from Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise at the University for the Creative Arts, on ‘What is Arts Research?’ and a presentation on Kultivate by Leigh Garrett, VADS Director and Kultivate project Director. A ‘Conference Fringe’ was available in the adjoining Hawksmoor Room featuring representatives of all the JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding projects. The day concluded with a plenary panel discussion.
With thanks to Anne Spalding, Kultivate Project Officer, and Repository and Digitisation Officer, UCA Research Online for providing the following summary of the day; and thanks to Amy Robinson, VADS Collections Manager, for the photographs.
Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise, University for the Creative Arts
Keynote: What is Arts Research?
Kerstin Mey, Director of Research and Enterprise, University for the Creative Arts
This presentation opened the conference and considered the concept of arts research. Kerstin spoke of arts research as a complex and dynamically developing field. There is tension between scientific and arts inquiry in the UK which does not exist in Germany. Arts research can be confusing, there is the assumption that the work speaks for itself without the need for contextualisation. There remain lingering tensions between thinking and doing. Kerstin showed three examples of arts research which crossed into other disciplines. Concluding the presentation with a plea that we should keep an open mind about arts research; it is about pushing boundaries and creating new ways of knowing.
Kultivate – increasing arts research deposit
Leigh Garrett, VADS Director, University for the Creative Arts
Leigh gave a brief history of VADS (Visual Arts Data Service) and an explanation of the services it provides in the areas of repositories, innovation, consultancy and research. This then led into the background of Kultur, the Kultur II Group and the Kultivate project. The critical success factors for this project are: the technical infrastructure, advocacy, simplifying the deposit process, demonstration of usage and impact, senior management, and REF2014. So to the future, this includes the JISC funded eNova project to ‘kulturise’ MePrints for arts repositories, and two further Kultivate workshops.
Theme: Advocacy for arts research
Art and advocacy: designing dialogues
Tahani Nadim, Assistant Repository Manager, Goldsmiths Research Online (GRO)
Tahani began with a brief overview of Goldsmiths and GRO before going on to describe research and the needs of artistic researchers. Two examples of researchers commenting on the process of engaging with GRO were given along with a clear explanation on the issues arising from the depositing process.
Advocacy is a dialogue with the researchers and various methods are used to engage with them. These include a brochure available to download from GRO, one-to-one clinics, presentations, workshops, and working to improve the interface. Advocacy is not a linear process, it should be continuous and not an instruction. Above all listen to your researchers. The presentation concluded with lessons learned followed by a question and answer session which highlighted that as a result of their advocacy, deposits had increased from 26 to 273.
Developing a screencast of the research deposit process
Sarah Hall, Institutional Repository Administrator, UAL Research Online
Sarah briefly outlined how advocacy is conducted at UAL before detailing the development of their screencast, which is available in UAL Research Online.
When creating a screencast the planning is absolutely key to ensuring success of the finished screencast. Sarah also emphasised the importance of using the same terms in all mediums, for both print and online advocacy tools. The screencast has acted as an aide memoir; it is short, only 4 minutes long and can still deliver a personal touch.
There has been very positive feedback from staff and the screencast could be developed to help with copyright training, editing material and for a step-by-step guide for researchers using the IRStats statistics package.
The Conference Fringe in the Hawksmoor Room,
with the JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding projects
Theme: Building repositories for arts research
Royal College of Art – Implementing a repository for research practice in post-graduate art, design and visual communication
Jonathan Warner, Head of Computing, Royal College of Art
Jonathan began by talking about the Royal College of Art and then how their Research Repository has been created and developed. Work started with discussing both the general requirements and then the specific needs of researchers. This was then followed by pilots and branding, illustrated with examples. Throughout the development Jonathan produced a mantra ‘simplify, reduce, reuse’ to help remove unnecessary parts of the process. Jonathan covered other aspects of the development including disambiguation and subject terms before concluding with recommendations. A particular recommendation is the idea of a project ‘container’ which could simplify the deposit process and is being developed as part of the Kultivate project’s technical enhancements by EPrints, University of Southampton.
EPrints and Mahara: Sustainable approaches to conserving Art/Design/Media/Performing Arts outputs using a consortia model
Alisa Miller, CREST Research Network Co-ordinator
CREST (Consortium for Research Excellence Support & Training) has been funded for two years, and involves 18 institutions across a range of subject disciplines. Alisa outlined the project outputs and activities to date all of which are part of the overall aim to produce a CREST repository (CREST Collections), an interface which will search across all the institutional repositories including content provided by institutions without repositories. This was illustrated with screenshots of how the repository will look.
The CREST approach is to provide a hierarchy of options, advocacy supported by social networking technology (CREST Collaborate) and an interdisciplinary consortia model; the aim is for researchers to have a seamless workflow between CREST Collaborate and CREST Collections.
Initiating an Arts Repository: the gateway to research at University College Falmouth
Tim Shear, Learning Technologist, Thomas Readings, Digital Resources Officer, and Doreen Pinfold, Head of Library & Information Services, University College Falmouth
Colourful slides illustrated the context to both the University College site at Falmouth and to the new AIR (Academy for Innovation and Research) building. AIR has played an important part in developing their plan for an institutional repository. Tim spoke about the AIR portal which is currently in development, but will be available here: http://air.falmouth.ac.uk/ This portal will provide access to all research projects through a common interface.
Falmouth is still at the conception stage of a repository and are currently in the process of looking at two software options EPrints and Drupal (as this is the choice for the AIR portal). A key factor is the need for the institutional repository to be interoperable with other systems within the institution, although the team also want to ensure that the chosen software is fit for purpose; testing of systems is currently taking place.
Theme: Managing Research Data
Documenting performance for the archive
Stephen Gray, CAiRO (Curating Artistic Research Output) Project Manager, University of Bristol
Stephen’s presentation dealt with performance as research and the challenges posed by performance documentation as research data. There are possible solutions in the form of PADS (Performance Art Data Structure) and this was illustrated by an example in the form of Paul Hurley’s ‘Becoming Snail’.
Performance as research is often seen as impermanent and yet the performance can be used for teaching, directly and indirectly as the basis of new work and purely for enjoyment. There are however challenges in recording both the performance and the associated data that accompanies performance disciplines. Stephen went on to demonstrate how PADS has addressed the challenges and also pointed out there is as yet no national arts data centre.
In conclusion PADS is behind world’s largest collection of live art documentation (1600 performances) which should be freely available online in September. So watch this website www.bristol.ac.uk/drama for announcements.
The ‘Kultivating Kultur’ Plenary Panel
Leigh presented three questions for the attendees to discuss:
- To identify key benefits to engagement in the deposit process
- To verify technical enhancements
- To discuss future issues and requirements
Points raised by attendees:
Senior management need to buy into advocacy at a higher level within institutions and this should encourage engagement with the process.
Technical suggestions included the potential re-writing of the institutional repository by making it a development tool so researchers can record research as works in progress.
There was also some discussion about metadata and although there is a desire to make depositing more streamlined it is also important not to remove metadata that will be required later.
It is recognised that research informs teaching and that quite often it is the process which is the most interesting part of completing an artefact. There still continues a split between ‘teaching and learning’ and ‘research’.
One attendee pointed out that much of the content for the day related to the EPrints repository platform and asked if there was some development in creating an overlay for DSpace and Fedora repositories. The JISC Repositories: Take-up and Embedding projects are involved in this task, further details are available via the Lanyrd Conference Fringe session page.
For the future there are other JISC funded projects investigating repository advocacy, repository consortia, automation tools and automated metadata generation.
The day concluded with an acknowledgement of thanks by Leigh to all involved in the Kultivate project.