Is It Too Late To Exploit RSS In Repositories?
Posted by Brian Kelly on 22 December 2010
A few years ago we had discussions about ways in which information about UKOLN peer-reviewed papers could be more effectively presented. We asked “Could we provide a timeline view? Or how about a Wordle display which illustrates the variety of subject areas researchers at UKOLN are engaged in?” The answer was yes we could, but it wouldn’t be sensible to carry out development work ourselves. Rather we should ensure that our publications were made available in Opus, the University of Bath’s institutional repository. And since repositories are based on open standards we would be able to reuse the metadata about our publications in various ways.
Unfortunately the RSS feed is limited to the last ten deposited items rather than returning the 223 UKOLN items for UKOLN or 45 items belonging to me. The RSS feed is failing to live up to its expectations and isn’t much use :-(
The Leicester Research Archive (LRA), in contrast, does seem to provide comprehensive set of data available as RSS. So, for example, if I go to the Department of Computer Science’s page in the repository there is, at the bottom right of the page (though, sadly, not available as an auto-discoverable link) an RSS feed – and this includes all 50 items.
Sadly when I tried to process this feed, in Wordle, Dipity and Yahoo! Pipes, I had no joy, with the feed being rejected by all three applications. I did wonder if the feed might be invalid, but the W3C RSS validator and the RSS Advisory Board’s RSS Validator only gave warnings. These warning might indicate the problem, as the RSS feed did contain XML elements, such as which might not be expected in an RSS feed.
But whilst my experiment to demonstrate how widely available applications which process RSS feeds could possibly be used to enrich the outputs from an institutional repository has been unsuccessful to date, I still feel that we should be encouraging developers of institutional repository software to allow full RSS feeds to be processed by popular services which consume RSS.
I have heard arguments that providing full RSS feeds might cause performance problems – but is that necessarily the case? I’ve also heard it suggested that we should be using ‘proper’ repository standards, meaning OAI-PMP – but as Nick Sheppard has recently pointed out on the UKCORR blog:
I have for some time been a little nonplussed by our collective, continued obsession with the woefully under-used OAI-PMH. Other than OAIster (an international service), the only services I’m currently aware of in the UK are the former Intute demo now maintained by Mimas.
In his post Nick goes on to ask “Perhaps OAI-PMH has had it’s day“. It’s unfortunate, I feel, that RSS does not seem to have been given the opportunity to see how it can be used to provide value-added services to institutional repositories. Is it too late?