User interfaces

Even if a service is very useful and is integrated well with a user’s existing workflow, the usability of the interface can still present a major barrier. This can cause particular problems if the item to be deposited is not a standard PDF, for example a video or photograph.

Embedding the user interface in workflows

Workflows which embed the repository and facilitate deposit from other systems may imply that the interface to the repository will be effectively outside the repository itself, in Research Publications Database Systems or Current Research Information Systems, or via a web-based deposit process from a portlet in the intranet, such as the system at Cardiff, for example.

A different approach is to embed the deposit process in commonly used applications, such as Microsoft Word. The DepositMO project has been exploring the idea that researchers could simply ‘save’ their document in Word to the repository and the repository software could engage in a ‘dialogue’ with the application to request and receive a PDF copy, extract keywords etc. This is enabled through SWORD (Simple Web Service Offering Repository Deposit) being integrated by Microsoft in its applications (Author AddIn). The aim is to enable deposit to both single repositories and multiple repositories. For more on DepositMO, see this JISC page and this blog.

Customisation

EPrints has developed ways to customise the researcher’s personal working area using MePrints, which is also a tool for creating and managing personal profile pages.

Glasgow has implemented some widgets in its repository interface so that when researchers log in they can see usage information for their papers. They are planning more ‘value-adds’, for example, showing researchers citation counts for their deposited papers.

Enhancing interfaces for visual and creative arts and other content types

There are a number of projects underway to enhance interfaces and visualisation of non-text material (including 3-D objects) for repositories. Several are building on the work of the KULTUR project and extending the functionality of the MePrints tool for EPrints e.g. Glasgow School of Art, while others (e.g. DORA at de Montfort) work with DSpace.

The Royal College of Art has been implementing a repository for research practice in art, design and visual communication, within the VADS KULTIVATE project, using the KULTUR and MePrints extensions to EPrints. The aim is to have a lightweight and simple deposit and publish process, but with standard metadata for easy discovery. The materials to be added to the repository include outputs from practice or project-based research, with a variety of curated evidence such as exhibitions, objects, data and multimedia. Uploading material is simplified through making the MePrints user profile the first point of entry after logging in, making the EPrints workflow shorter and reducing the subject pick list to the 3 most likely categories for the RCA. A plug-in was added to allow zipped files to be expanded as multiple documents rather than files, to facilitate upload of collections of images.

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