RIDIR Project Final Report

JISC; e-SIG; RIDIR; Rightscom


Creative Commons Licence: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England and Wales. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

The RIDIR Project set out to investigate how the appropriate use of identifiers for digital objects might aid interoperability between repositories and to build a self-contained software demonstrator that would illustrate the findings.The project started by holding two Focus Group Meetings with repository practitioners to explore the (then) current range of issues around the topic and to map out what RIDIR might do.  The result of the two meetings was an emerging understanding that new repository managers did not see identifier interoperability, whatever it might mean, as a burning issue and that experts in the field had a wide range of problems in the field and an equally wide range of potential solutions.The RIDIR project team narrowed down the issues and expressed them as five scenarios which it was felt could be addressed within the lifetime and resources of the project.  However it became clear that there were two approaches that could be taken to the work.  The first would demonstrate the value of interoperability:  In this case, the role of the demonstrator would be to show some of these scenarios in action. The team would also aim to describe the impact of failure, in terms of what could not be accomplished or the cost of an alternative approach (for example, manual creation or editing of large volumes of repository metadata). The demonstrator would not attempt the creation of identifiers:  it would focus on offering a clear demonstration of value unconstrained by the contingent factors of current practice, which we knew to be very limited. The work would focus on cases where there was a unique, accessible and actionable identifier of some form.  It would also thereby establish what conditions and changes in practice would be necessary to make feasible the use of identifiers to support interoperability.The second approach would look at the cost of interoperability:  In this approach, using the scenarios to give context, we would concentrate the demonstrator on showing how identifiers can be created, mediated and therefore managed cost-effectively on the assumption that the value of so doing is axiomatic.  The benefit of the 'cost' or 'how' approach would be to assist the community by demonstrating approaches that will facilitate the achievement of interoperability, and so enable more rapid adoption of technology and working practices. It would also be likely to reveal issues that have not been encountered by other projects to date.It was accepted that there were elements of work common to both approaches.  In the event, the JISC asked the project team to follow the second approach.  This has resulted in a demonstrator that addresses most of the issues raised in our scenarios by providing two related services allowing identifiers to be used as the means to build up and record potentially rich relationships between objects and identifiers and between digital object and other digital objects.  More explicitly, it shows how such techniques can be used to locate and record the whereabouts of objects that have moved outside their original curation space and become 'lost', and how rich networks of relationships can be built up between related objects in disparate locations enabling a user who discovers one immediately to be aware of and investigate the others.During the work done to move from the outcomes of the focus group meetings to a proposal for demonstrator development, a significant amount of research was done concerning the general aspects of identification and interoperability, to evaluate the various approaches that the RIDIR demonstrator might take with respect to existing work, and to ensure value was added rather than duplicating extant work.  This included analysis of existing identifier schemes and services, existing services for enabling interoperability.  We anticipate that this research will also be of use to the repository community.The totality of the RIDIR work has enabled the team to make a range of recommendations which we trust will be given due consideration by the repositories community.

The University of Hull


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