UKRDDS Phase 2 Final Workshop

The project team and representatives from all participating pilot HEIs and Data Centres convened in London for the third workshop of the UK Research Data Discovery Service on 13 October 2016. This was the final workshop of what is now known as phase 2 of the project, which ran from March 2015 to September 2016 (extended from the original end date of July 2016).

The objectives of the workshop were to review the second phase of the project, discuss what still needs to be achieved in the next (third) phase of the project and how people can be involved and engaged.

Prior to the workshop, all the relevant sources of information were collated on the workshop’s padlet. This includes links to the shared notes, an online app for collecting sticky notes, all supporting documentation and slides.

To collect as much feedback as possible during the workshop, in addition to the exercises, posters were put up titled Questions, Issues, Ideas and a FLAP (Future considerations, Lessons learned, Accomplishment and Problem areas) board for phases 2 and 3. Any notes added to these posters have been transcribed into the shared spreadsheet mentioned in the group exercises.


The day started with Catherine Grout describing what had changed in the landscape since phase 2. The research data discovery service sits within a suite of Jisc work called “Research at Risk”, which offers tools, services, advice and guidance to those involved with research data management in the UK. In particular the Research Data Shared Service will offer a simple solution that meets the needs of institutions and the requirements for funders.

The project is managed by Christopher Brown and he summarised the work of phase 2. This phase had brought the pilot into alpha status, laying the firm foundations for a potential service. A further year of work will make this a more hardened system with further testing and user feedback, making the service more valuable and useful. Further HEIs have been brought into the project, in addition to the original participating pilots.

User stories, supported by a “MoSCoW” prioritisation process, have driven the development of a range of outputs resulting in the alpha system and associated research and documentation (links to the latter, and a list of participants, are available via the padlet).

Recent focus has been on system testing, with changes made on the staging server and using the live server as a benchmark for testing. Harvesting continues, alongside development on other requirements and specific issues (NERC, VADS) and the addition of other HEIs (Nottingham, Sheffield, Lancaster, Bath and Bristol). Feedback on the project and participating pilots’ involvement will be an important method of assessing phase 2 and directing phase 3.

Dom Fripp has worked on metadata mapping for the project. A new “metadata profile document” has been circulated and is open for comments and questions (currently on version 1.1), alongside a mapping document. These documents inform the work of our developer in building the metadata schema into CKAN. The mapping exercise is very important work and is of interest globally – comments are very welcome. This is still a live process, and issues that arise should be shared and reported to be addressed in future development (the example of issues related to migration between DataCite 3 and 4 was noted). In future this documentation will be migrated to github.

Group Exercises

The main focus of the workshop wasn’t to listen to presentations but for participants to engage in a number of group exercises.

The first exercise was to assess and test the current alpha system on the staging server. Delegates could work alone or in groups at their tables. There were four tables and reporting back was done one table at a time. The areas suggested for testing included – your organisation’s metadata; any fields missing; is the harvested data correct; search functionality; presentation of results; usability. These were suggestions and other areas could be tested.

Notes were added to a poster under the categories of Bug, Error and Feedback. These have been transcribed into the following shared spreadsheet (along with notes from the Requirements exercise). These will be reviewed and checked against existing JIRA tickets. For any new issues a new ticket will be created.

The second exercise was a follow on to the first and delegates were asked the following questions:

  • Does the service satisfy the requirements of your organisation?
  • What further requirements should be added?
  • What should be improved?

They were asked to write their answers down on sticky notes and put them on a poster under the following categories: Drop, Add, Keep or Improve.

As with the first exercise, the notes have been transcribed into the shared spreadsheet.

Both exercises provided valuable feedback on the current system and ideas for future requirements.

The Road Ahead

The day finished with Christopher Brown describing plans for the next phase of work and how participants could be involved.

In phase 2 we engaged with participants and gathered user stories, prioritised and implemented requirements based on these user stories, evaluated software and chose CKAN, developed an Alpha system, harvested metadata from participants into this system and are now moving to Beta.

Phase 3 will run from October 2016 to September 2017 and will allow us to move from a test service to a production ready one. We will be able to harvest from more data sources, do more formal and informal system testing, look at further requirements (refining and implementing them), develop a business case for the service with the ultimate aim of delivering a more mature and tested service to Digital Resources (the area of Jisc that runs and supports services, such as the Archives Hub).

In developing additional functionality we will review existing requirements set to “won’t” and out of scope, gather further requirements from this workshop, and potentially others, integrate more closely with the Research Data Shared Service work and the IRUSdataUK project.

It’s hoped that all participants would continue to be involved during phase 3 of the project. This would be at a level expected from all new participants wishing to have their metadata harvested into the discovery service.

The day ended with a thank you to all the participants and the project team for the help and support in running an engaging and productive workshop, and to all the participants who have helped throughout phase 2 of the project.

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