I am Nikki Rogers and I am the Project Manager of the JISC-funded CIP - Content Integration Project. CIP runs from March to September 2008 at the ILRT, University of Bristol. I am coordinator of the Web Futures team (http://www.ilrt.bris.ac.uk/whatwedo/webfutures/ ) at the ILRT.
Here is an introductory description of our project:
As is common in large organisations, a known problem at the University of Bristol is that while there is a wealth of Web, Systems and departmental data that is interrelated (for example in terms of subject specific data, or data about particular research projects), it is not trivial to produce software applications that can give people a seamless search or browse across the full range of such information. Integrated 'views' across these distributed but related sets of data are not normally possible without considerable human effort and yet would be extremely beneficial both to University departments and faculties and also to central or interdisciplinary University bodies (such as Research & Enterprise Development (RED) and the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) at Bristol University).
Building on a successful, small, prototype project carried out by the Web Futures team at the ILRT during 2007 (with funding support from HPLabs, Bristol), this is a Pilot project funded by the JISC. Through 2008 we will be developing CIP software to provide instant answers to questions such as "Who are all the researchers with an interest in subject X?", "Which research across the University has been funded by sponsor Y?" or "The Vice Chancellor is visiting University Z next week, what are all the projects that the University of Bristol collaborates on with University Z?".
The focus of this project, then, is on piloting deployable solutions for managing research data integration, targeting institutionally-focussed systems, departmental-specific data storage solutions at the University of Bristol and data arising from the increasing use of social softwares for University research. The pilot itself is to be a type of social software in that it will be designed to accept user 'annotations' - for example so that a researcher may link their research publications to online resources (blogs, other publications and so on) that make a citation of their work.
In technical terms, our project will use a J2EE framework approach together with semantic web software to evaluate the CIP Project question: "Can Semantic Web technology help 'bridge the gap' between legacy/next generation content and thus support improved interface integration?". This is supportive of the e-framework initiative's interest in emerging user environment layers which allow for flexible plug-in software frameworks, able to cope with a range of next generation tools and software applications. In our approach we are committed to using open standards and a service oriented architecture wherever possible.
Having already engaged real users in the University and several University departments as enthusiastic stakeholders (including departments within the Faculty of Engineering, RED and the ILRT itself) we will be pleased to release our CIP software as opensource and to report on how its proposed users have informed and evaluated our pilot efforts. We hope that the pilot software we produce will illustrate a viable approach to integrating disparate research content in large scale organisations and thus be of generic interest to other institutions in HE.