UK Web Focus

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Depositing My Paper Into the University of Bath Institutional Repository

Posted by Brian Kelly on 21 July 2009

I recently mentioned that my paper on “From Web accessibility to Web adaptability” had been published in a special issue of the Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology journal. Shortly after receiving the notification that the paper had been published I deposited the author’s version of the paper in Opus, the University of Bath Institutional Repository. As I had attended a short training course on use of Opus (which uses the ePrints repository software) a few hours before uploading the paper to the repository I decided to time how long it took to complete the process.

I discovered it took me 16 minutes to do this. As someone responded to my tweet about this, this seemed too long.  I subsequently discovered that I had mistakenly chosen the New Item option – as a DOI for the paper was available I should have selected the Import Items option (not an intuitive name, I feel). In addition I also copied the list of 46 references and tried to apply some simple formatting (line breaks between items) to the list and also to the abstract. This was a mistake, as any line breaks appear to be ignored.

In order to understand what I should have done, I went through the deposit process a second time and this time recorded my actions, with an accompanying commentary as a screencast which is available on YouTube and embedded below.

The video lasts for 10 minutes and the deposit process took 7 minutes (although this includes the time taken in giving the commentary and showing what I did the first time).

It does occur to me that it might be useful to make greater use of screencasting not only as a training aid for institutional repository staff to demonstrate the correct processes for depositing items but also to allow authors themselves to show and describe the approaches they take. I’m sure that some of the mistakes I made are due to limitations of the user interface and I won’t be alone in making such mistakes. Indeed having shown this view to the University of Bath’s institutional repository manager she commented:

I’ve also noticed, from your video a few issues that should be fixed, so it was helpful to see.

Why aren’t we making more screencasts available of user interactions with the services we develop, I wonder? And why aren’t we sharing them?


Note: Just to clarify, this post was intended encourage users to described (openly) their experiences in using services such as repositories. and to share these experiences. The video clip is not intended as a training resource on how to deposit an item in a repository! [24 July 2009]

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13 Responses to “Depositing My Paper Into the University of Bath Institutional Repository”

  1. >Why aren’t we making more screencasts available

    Particularly as there are some great tools which remove most of the headaches. My favourite is ScreenToaster. No software to install, the ability to easily add/edit captions, screencasts can be hosted on their server or uploaded straight to YouTube. And you don’t have to stop at how-to videos: http://www.rsc-ne-scotland.org.uk/mashe/2009/05/generating-student-video-feedback-using-screentoaster/

  2. If we had a similar system at Swansea (and no doubt the powers that be are looking into it), I can’t see me wanting to use it more than once! What a tortuous process just to get a bibliographic record on line where only registered users can see it anyway.

  3. Mr Tongue-in-cheek said

    Because institutional webmasters misunderstand accessibility rules, and think that screencasts will fall foul of accessibility rules.

  4. This is a slightly awkward area for us in Web Services at least. For example, if we get a support request where the explanation is quite complicated but we can’t go to the person’s desk, it’s not unknown for us to do a brief screencast instead and send them the link directly (we’ve used Jing quite successfully, it’s free and very easy to use).

    The slight worry that we’ve had, internally at least, is that the quality of something published for the rest of the University and perhaps the world to see and hear, carrying the University branding and our department title is that the quality, in particular the audio/script, should be slightly higher than our normal five minute efforts. Obviously it’s a slightly chicken and egg solution because until we do more, we won’t get any better at them.

    What we’d like to do is produce more brief videos to accompany our existing tutorial materials, and so are mainly internally-facing. As with everything thing, finding the time, in particular if you want that five minutes to not be mortifyingly embarrassing, can be hard!

  5. I should say of course, that we also don’t want to tread too firmly on the toes of the Training department but we do have a number of beta-style apps where it would be easier for us to provide this kind of material.

  6. Hi Phil
    Thanks for your response. I disagree, however, with your implications that Web all institutional content should be regarded as representing the institution and needs to go through rigourous quality assurance processes which are applied to corporate information.

    For me many Web 2.0 services are more about communications than publication. And just as we don’t apply editorial controls to email sent out my members of the institution, we shouldn’t do this when, for example, a video of a screen session is used to describe problems in interacting with a service in a way which is much more effective than simply using email.
    In addition for many services (including institutional repositories) the wider community will gain benefits from an open discussion of the limitations of existing services and how they can be improved.

  7. I should make clear that I’m talking specifically about videos produced by Web Services as general-access informational or instructional resources in both my previous comment and here.

    If I emailed a thousand people explaining a new service, and was positioning myself as an expert on this service, based in this department at this institution, I would want the accuracy and overall quality of that email to be higher than what I might dash off in two minutes to one person.

    I deny that I am implying some kind of SS-enforced “rigourous quality assurance process” rather than taking slightly more time to think about and create something when the intention is to provide something targeted at the whole of the institution and beyond. As I said before, we’ve already done the dashing-off of videos when the audience has been just one or two people asking for support. In fact when we released the WordPress-powered news system to our communications team we created a small series of videos giving a tour of the features and some standalone instructionals on how to perform specific actions. Again though, the audience is small.

    You are also underplaying or ignoring (perhaps deliberately), the potential difference between a screencast on a blog (including our Web Service blog) and in the official support channels for an institution. If “Web 2.0 services” (which IMO don’t include screencasts) are more about communication, then part of that communication should be consideration of the audience, what they might expect, and what they might need. We’ve found that hard, which is why we’ve stuck to the low-key video creation til now.

    Significantly, we shouldn’t underplay the potential personal embarrassment factor if, unlike you, someone isn’t quite as used to hearing hundreds of people hear their voice as they stumble and trip over words! I suspect this is at least a big a problem as all the other gumpf above.

    I’m not suggesting that we should be paralyzed by fear, of course, and starting with a series of public screencasts posted on our blog would be an excellent introduction for both us and our readers into the kinds of content we can create, and how.

  8. Hi Phil
    Thanks for your response. In my post I said “Why aren’t we making more screencasts available of user interactions with the services we develop, I wonder? And why aren’t we sharing them?” (my emphasis).
    I agree with you that a service provider may need to work to a script and produce a high quality resource which is potentaily going to be viewed by many people. But my proposal was for sharing the real experiences of users of the service – something quite different.
    I agree with you that people may feel intimidated in doing this. But I’m saying that if users have an interest in the service, they should have some means of sharing their experiences.
    The post wasn’t targetted at the service provider! The use of ‘Web 2.0′ was meant to convey the involvement of the user (I agree that ‘screencasting’ by a service provider isn’t Web 2.0). Sorry if that is how the post came across.

  9. Ah, I read “we” as “institutions”. Fair enough. FWIW, you did also mention the production of screencasts as training aids which I think my comments are more targeted towards! In Web Services we’d welcome user-generated videos of our services!

  10. Christopher Gutteridge said

    I hate watching things like this. It’s like pulling teeth.

    (I wrote most of that interface, so it’s my shame every time it isn’t easy)

    Things I’ve learned:

    We should separate out “capture via DOI” and similar tools from “upload bibtex” even though they are the same interface internally they are different problems to the user. Upload from DOI should be a form ON the page.

    The “references” thing is an arse. Papers are written electronically then people try and cut and paste from PDF — simulated paper simulating all the flaws of paper. Citations should be embedded in clean machine readable data inside the document.

    The successful import green message box should tell you what to do next. If there was only one item imported, it should take you directly to the first page of the edit process and tell you to work through as normal, just with less typing.

    And thanks for doing this — in the long run it’s good for me, even if briefly painful. So just like the dentist…

  11. [...] Depositing My Paper Into the University of Bath Institutional Repository [...]

  12. A bit like watching paint dry but very informative – thanks.

    I’m not sure if this is what you were suggesting but it seems to me that the most useful thing about this kind of screencast is not in giving trainers and/or developers a way of saying “this is what you should do” but in allowing the user to tell the developer “this is what a mess I made of trying to use your user interface”.

    As Chris suggests above, this is probably painful to watch but ultimately very helpful in making things better than they are currently.

  13. Hi Andy, yes my intention was that developers would have a better understanding of how I, as a user, use the interface, including especially my misunderstandings of the interface. I did this as I felt that I was unlikely to be on my own in experiencing the problems I described. I’m pleased that Chris Gutteridge responded so positively to my screencast.

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