Wednesday, 21 December 2011

DLM Conference 2011, Brussels

Attended the triennial DLM conference last week. The theme was 'Interoperability and MoReq2010 - Making intelligent information control a reality'. There were some excellent presentations/sessions and there was a lot of discussion and networking during the breaks.

Some interesting points:
- the work of DIGIT (the European Commission’s Informatics Directorate) and FEDICT (the Federal Agency for ICT, Belgium)
- the scope of interoperability. I wasn't the only speaker to highlight that it is more than the technical & semantic dimensions and that the organisational and legal dimensions, including political issues or set in the political context, are equally important and probably more difficult to resolve
- the promise and potential of MoReq2010 and ideas for further modules
- review of the EU data protection legislation - likely to be 'on the books' in 2015. Peter Hustinx, EU DP Supervisor made so many sensible and pragmatic points in his closing keynote. Amongst them were the new legislation would aim to empower data subjects (users) adding to existing rights the 'right to be forgotten' (interesting in the light of publications such as Mayer-Schonberger's book 'Delete' and the 'right to data portability' - both important in the digital and social networking contexts. Clarification of the need for 'consent' was an issue those drafting the legislation needed to 'think about'.
- the discussions about the importance (or not) of tweets and their 'status' - are they records? Are they information assets?
- Eric Ketelaar's re-presentation of record keeping (or records formation as he prefers) and archiving - not two overlapping circles in the typical Venn diagram but a circle (archiving) within a larger circle (record keeping). Something for us to think about!
- very little on cloud issues (at least in the sessions I attended).

The conference ended with a call for more people/organisations to join the DLM Forum to exchange ideas, undertake work and a proposal to make the conference a biennial rather than triennial event. Very sensible in the dynamic, fast moving digital domain.

Presentations are to be uploaded to the conference website

DATUM in Action - follow on to DATUM project

Following on from our successful ‘DATUM for health’ project we are currently mid-way through our DATUM in Action project. Julie McLeod, Sue Childs and Elizabeth Lomas are working with a team of researchers, lead by Prof Maia Angelova, to implement good research data management for their EU funded project MATSIQEL.

Funded as part of JISC's Managing Research Data programme 2011-2013( it's one of the 8 projects that are helping research groups, projects or departments improve research data management 'on the ground'. The aim is to support the researchers fulfill disciplinary best practice and funders' requirements by implementing data management plans and supporting systems.

Full details are on the project website

Friday, 1 October 2010

Launch of new research project

Northumbria University launches the ‘DATUM for health’ research project on the 1st October. This collaborative project will develop a research data management skills programme for postgraduate research students in the health studies discipline. It is being led by the School of Computing, Engineering and Information Sciences in partnership with colleagues from the School of Health, Community and Education Studies and The Graduate School. External partners are the Digital Curation Centre ( and the Digital Preservation Coalition ( The project is funded by JISC under their Managing Research Data (JISCMRD) Programme ( and runs till 31st July 2011. Prof Julie McLeod will be leading the project and Sue Childs will be the main researcher.

Progress on the DATUM project will be disseminated via this blog. There is also a project website which contains a news section with an RSS feed.
A key deliverable from the DATUM project will be
a research data management training programme for the health studies discipline focusing on qualitative, unstructured data. This will be made publicly available on the Web via a Creative Commons License. The aim is that this programme will be transferable to other disciplines, audiences and contexts within Northumbria University, and to the wider HE and research communities.

Though not directly on eRM, this new project has synergy with the work conducted on the AC+erm project. DATUM is looking at the management of qualitative, unstructured digital data. A key aim of AC+erm was to disseminate the project’s findings (mostly qualitative) throughout its life on a regular basis, via the Web, to emphasise the urgency of the ERM issue, influence change as the research proceeded, and encourage widespread discussion. Over 87 outputs were made available in the project’s 3 year life span. At the end of the project these outputs were updated or modified where necessary and published in a final form. The AC+erm website has now become an archive but this blog will remain for new research and development.

The first stage of DATUM will be a targeted literature review to identify and review (a) best practice guidelines and research data management requirements for any HEI stakeholder, with a particular focus on qualitative, unstructured data, (b) similar guidelines specifically for the health studies discipline, (c) training/learning delivery models for the range of research stakeholders, and (d) training materials. It will be interesting to see what other approaches we could use to archive the rich resource of AC+erm outputs to make them available for the wider community to use and repurpose.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

AC+erm in Iceland at IRMA

I was delighted to be invited to speak to members of Iceland’s Records Management Association about the AC+erm Project last week. Nearly 100 members heard our first presentation post the official end of the project and saw the public overseas premiere of the AC+erm ‘movie’ scripted by a member of the project team featuring newscasters Lancelot and Guinivere. Our Icelandic records management professionals share the UK sense of humour! The slides and movie will be posted on the AC+erm website shortly as it is currently under reconstruction now that the project has ended.

The afternoon featured two seminars. The first was linked to AC+erm, looking at the technology options for electronic records management with some examples of SharePoint implementations and interest; the second explored the future of records management in the Web 2.0 world. It was interesting to hear and debate Icelandic views on various questions about the future. Their outlook was very optimistic and positive.

The IRMA has around 220 members, which is particularly impressive in a country with a population of ~320,000 (similar to the city/suburbs of Newcastle upon Tyne!) Interestingly the majority are female and they work in a wide range of sectors as records/information managers, IT consultants and software developers.

I can highly recommend Iceland – the people I met were so welcoming and generous, the records professionals are so committed and, despite the kind of inclement weather we’re used to in the North East, a fascinating landscape. And the Fimmvorduhals volcano waited until we had left to erupt again!

Photo source: AFP International News Agency

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Continued Communication Project – Collaborate in creating a mind map for RM in a Web 2.0 world

Continued Communication is an international multidisciplinary group investigating communications in the 21st century, conceived and led by ELizabeth Lomas as part of her PhD research with Northumbria University. The group is critically evaluating how to maximise the business potential of communications created through computer mediated technologies, which incorporates any IT systems with the potential for dialogue.

In anticipation of the presentation by Katharine Stevenson and Jon Shepherd at the UK’s Records Management Society Conference next week (when Katharine and Jon will be demonstrating and discussing some of the implications for RM of new communication tools such as Google Wave, Ning, Moodle and MindMeister), the Continued Communication team would like to invite you to add your ideas and questions to a collaborative mindmap looking at the question:

“What are the challenges, solutions and questions for Records Managers in a Web 2.0 world?"

You can log in and add to the mindmap at:

If you are not already a user of MindMeister then you do need to register a username, an email and password to edit the map. MindMeister is then free for individuals to use and you can edit other maps and produce your own (although there are certain limits on the free service in terms of map numbers). Sign up at

Editing the map is easy as the process of adding comments is fairly intuitive – click on the box you want to link to and then click on 'add', a new box will then pop up for you to type into. Boxes can be dragged, remapped and linked and you can edit existing comments. Like a wiki, all changes are tracked so feel free to edit text. MindMeister has its own help on the site but feel free to get back in touch with any queries.

The results of the mapping will be used to inform the Continued Communication Group's research and will be shown at the RMS Conference - the group hopes to continue the map throughout the Conference. The map will also be available online for a couple of months so that around the world we can reflect on the professional future (opportunities and risks for Records and Information Managers) around the globe as information creation, storage and management shifts.

Elizabeth can be contacted at

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Project outputs – Vignettes

One of the objectives of the AC+erm Project is to develop vignettes – a type of output that crystallises aspects of the research findings in the form of tools or exemplars that can be of use to practitioners, users and other stakeholders.

The purpose of the vignettes is not only to provide ready-made tools for use (though many of them can be treated in this manner), but also to suggest models or templates for building tools whose content can be tailored to suit a given context.

We have put up the final versions of the various vignettes developed in the course of the project on our website:

The vignettes are of seven types: fridge magnets; phenomenological analyses; rich pictures; Snakes and Ladders game; narrative story; videos; mind maps; and word clouds. More detailed explanations of the tools, along with suggestions for use, are included in the documents on the website.

Prototypes of three of the vignettes – fridge magnets, rich pictures, and story – were tested and discussed by participants in the project Colloquia.

Final AC+erm Colloquium – Witness Seminar

Last Thursday (5th March), we held the last in our series of project colloquia as a Witness Seminar called Transforming Information & Records Management through Research & Development. A group of 50 delegates and witnesses discussed and debated the links and synergies, actual and desired, between research and practice in the field of Records and Information Management.

The event was structured around three sessions – two seminars led by panels of expert ‘witnesses’, and a forum for general discussion. Witnesses for the first seminar panel were drawn from the academic world, and for the second, from the practitioner world; each panel was introduced by chairs from the ‘opposite’ arena. After the witnesses delivered their statements in each seminar, the discussion was opened to delegates. The final session was devoted purely to discussion and thought about future directions of research in recordkeeping.

The constitution of the panels was as follows:

Seminar 1 – The transforming capacity of research & development: Academic perspectives
Chair: Adrian Cunningham
Witnesses: Steve Bailey; Sue Childs; Elizabeth Lomas; Dr Alison Pickard

Seminar 2 – The transforming capacity of research & development: Practitioner perspectives
Chair: Catherine Hare
Witnesses: Dr David Bowen; Chris Campbell; Maria Luisa Di Biagio; Paul Dodgson; John McDonald; Andrew Snowden

Chair: Prof Michael Moss

While we were very fortunate to have such eminent academics and practitioners to lead the event, the Witness Seminar format – with its emphasis on discussion as well as ‘talking heads’ – meant that a considerable portion of the colloquium’s success arose from the contributions made by all the delegates attending. And debate was not necessarily along stereotypical fault-lines – at one stage, an academic urging the need for a more practical orientation was followed by a practitioner stressing the value of intellectual frameworks in which to situate their practice.

We are in the process of preparing the formal proceedings of the colloquium for publication; in the meanwhile, we have now posted the speaker biographies and Witness Statements to our website. Access to the document is via the following link:

The audio files of the chairs’ and witnesses’ speeches will shortly be added to the website, and we are also in the process of producing transcripts of the discussions, which will be included in the published proceedings.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

You too can contribute to AC+erm!

Would you like to help us in a ‘mass peer-review’ exercise to help validate some of our research findings?

As part of the AC+erm project, we have carried out a systematic literature review (SLR) of journal literature on electronic records management (ERM) published from 1996 to February 2009.

We searched for the topic ‘electronic records management’ in the following databases: LISA, EBSCO, Web of Science. (LISA covers information studies and technology, library science and publishing; EBSCO’s Business Source Premier coverage includes business, management, engineering, law, health and art; Web of Science citation indexes cover 9,000 journals across the sciences, social sciences & the arts and the humanities).

We have reviewed 1,189 from a total of 1,756 items and selected, to date, 536.
Selected outputs from the SLR data have been used to inform the initial questions for our Delphi studies and made available on our project website.

We would welcome feedback on our SLR activity to see if we have adequately identified the relevant literature. We have chosen a subset of the total number of results for validation – this subset comprises journal articles that disseminate the results of case studies and case examples (a total of 104 items).

If you are willing to share your knowledge and expertise, you can do so by downloading a Word document from our website, completing the response fields, and returning it by email to The document contains the full list of 104 articles along with brief descriptions of the cases and can be found at

Thank you for your help.

Friday, 5 February 2010

SharePoint 2010

A preview of SharePoint 2010 at a breakfast briefing hosted by Rocket Solutions ( in wet Newcastle this morning revealed some exciting new features. Integration with line-of-business systems is significantly enhanced and the business process and workflow features look much more user firendly to create and use than in SharePoint 2007. Search capabilities include phonetic recognition; content organisation features include automatic routing of documents to document libraries and automatic provision of folder structures. All of this of course is dependent on good metadata.

The new business intelligence capabilities are particularly impressive. PowerPivot allows users to interactively analyse huge data sets (up to 1 million rows of data from an Excel spreadsheet). However this and some of the other more sophisticated features will require Office 2010.

Records management was explicitly referred to though didn't feature in the demo. The move away from the model of declaring records into a records centre towards tagging, scheduling and managing 'in situ' looks interesting. It will be good to see how this operates in practice when the product is released later in the spring.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Records Management Myths and Legends

Continued Communication, a Northumbria University led action research group, is running two storytelling sessions for separate groups in central London (British Library Conference Centre) on Monday 1st March 2010, an afternoon session (2.30–5pm) and an Evening Session (6–8pm).

The purpose of the event is to build narrative views of the world of records management through developing short group and individual stories. We hope to capture and convey some of the values and benefits of information management and the RIM profession. Stories will be recorded and with participants' individual permission will be posted onto the Continued Communication website that is currently under development.

The event will be facilitated by Storyteller and Cognitive Edge Practitioner Ron Donaldson. Here is a link to one of Ron's storytelling events

Elizabeth Lomas (Continued Communication and Northumbria University), Peter Heywood (Development coach and consultant), and James Lappin (Thinking Records), will be assisting Ron - it should be an interesting and fun event.

If you would like to come along and take part then please email, letting her know whether you would like to attend the afternoon or the evening session.

Mediated Memory: Of Monuments, Machines and Madeleines

Last Friday (29th January), I attended this excellent conference / symposium organized by postgraduate students from HATII (the Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute) and elsewhere in Glasgow University's Arts and Humanities graduate School.

While the papers ranged far beyond what is generally considered to be the boundaries of the recordkeeping disciplines, much of the material was of at least contextual interest to the work of recordkeeping professionals, and some of it directly relevant.

The programme was split into three panels, under the thematic headings of 'Madeleines', 'Machines', and 'Monuments'. After tea and Madeleines (in homage to Proust's famous 'memory moment'), the day's business started with a keynote speech on 'Hand, Writing and Memory' from Dr Mariangela Palladino of the University of Glasgow.

The papers presented in the 'Madeleines' panel were all related in some way to the manner in which memory, as opposed to specific memories or memorials, is psychologically constructed and organized - Aislinn Hunter's paper on the resonance of 'beloved objects', though focusing on museum or heritage objects, is also readily applicable to the way in which iconic documents and records are viewed.

The 'Machines' panel explored, as one mught imagine, some of the uses or effects of technology in constructing memory and memorials. A couple focused on 'technological' memorials (a video installation of a Thai village which had suffered in past conflicts, a 'Sonic Memorial' of the Twin Towers); while readers of Derrida's 'Archive Fever' will be familiar with the terms in which Galit Wellner discussed the mobile phone as 'memory prosthesis'.

The final panel on 'Monuments' perhaps provided the closest analogues to recordkeeping. Two of the papers showed how the past could be tendentiously re-written or re-presented to back current political and ideological concerns (in one case, by physical monuments, in the other, through literature). A third dealt with a case where the published version of a work differed in certain key respects from the earlier private version, and considered possible reasons for this re-writing of the record (or at any rate, of the earlier interpretation).
Finally, Maria Francesca Martinez Tagliavia provided an exhilarating analysis of Blob, a short mash-up feature used as a filler on the Italian Rai Tre TV channel, which weaves a range of documentary and non-documentary material into a new video text of ironic, iconoclastic commentary in the belly of the Berlusconi-dominated beast.

This brief report can give only the barest sense of the complexity and richness of the papers and discussions; fortunately, an edited volume of proceedings is likely to be published at a later stage. In the meanwhile, a full list of speakers and abstracts, along with further details on the nature of the symposium in the Call for Papers, is available at event's Facebook group pages.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Investigation into the use of Microsoft SharePoint by Higher Education Institutions

The final report from this Eduserv funded project is now freely available for download at It shows that most UK HEIs are using SharePoint to some extent (78% of the 40 HEIs interviewed in a telephone survey of mostly IT Directors). The report includes findings about types of use, drivers for using SharePoint, critical success factors for implementing SharePoint, lessons learned and thoughts on the future. It also features views from three case studies at Cranfield, Imperial College and Kingston University. The project team who conducted the work was: James Lappin (Thinking Records Ltd), Gavin Siggers (Healdan Consulting), Sue Childs and Julie McLeod (Northumbria University).

Friday, 4 December 2009

Witness Seminar: Transforming Information & Records Management through Research & Development

12:00–18:00, 4 March 2010, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne

The fourth and final AC+erm colloquium will take the form of a Witness Seminar, to be held on ‘home turf’ in the Great Hall of Northumbria University’s newly refurbished Sutherland Building.

Building on the success of previous witness seminars this free half-day seminar focuses on the results of the AC+erm e-records management project in the broader context of research and development in information management. It provides a rare opportunity for anyone interested and/or involved in research and development or improving their organisation’s management of information and records to listen to, learn from, actively discuss and network with a range of experts and other delegates.

You are invited to join a group of UK and international information and records management, IT and information systems academics and practitioners, and engage in a critical examination of the value and nature of research and development for the information management profession.

Speakers include Steve Bailey, David Bowen, Chris Campbell, Adrian Cunningham, Paul Dodgson, Catherine Hare, John McDonald, Michael Moss, Stuart Orr and Andrew Snowden.

Delegates can contribute their own knowledge, experience, views and desires to the discussion and debate to influence the direction of future research. Posters, presentations, and other materials and tools related to the findings of the AC+erm Project and other projects conducted by Northumbria University’s Information Management Innovation (IMI) Research Group will be available to view and use.

The registration form and programme details are available at

Details are also available on the AC+erm Project website at

Information on previous Witness Seminars can be found at (2006) and (2007).

Organised by the School of Computing, Engineering & Information Sciences at Northumbria University, funded as part of the AHRC AC+erm Project ( and sponsored by Emerald Publishing (

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

List of electronic recordkeeping resources

We have overhauled our annotated compilation of websites and documents relating to various aspects of electronic recordkeeping.

It is not a comprehensive list, but one that has grown organically through the life of the project as we come across material through various channels. It also incorporates items suggested or brought to our notice by AC+erm participants and well-wishers.

As before, the list includes official, professional and commercial institutions and organisations; publishers of journals and books in our disciplines, and various individual items such as articles, reports and similar documentary materials. The selection of the latter is particularly subject to the list's ad hoc process of formation – our main instrument for identifying material of this nature is the project's Systematic Literature Review, and the examples presented in the resource list are very much subsidiary to this far more substantial and rigorous undertaking.

We have also added another distinct category of resource to reflect the rapidly moving nature of the field. Much innovative thought in the records and information field is now first published to the world through blogs maintained by individual practitioners rather than by more formal routes: the revised list contains links to a number of prominent blogs and bloggers.

The earlier versions of the list were presented in straightforward alphabetical order, but as it is now rather long, we have divided the new version into a number of categories for easier use. A basic index has been provided, as well as improved presentation and navigation. We have checked out all the existing links and repaired them where necessary.

You can find the resource list on our website at:

The online resources from the list have been added to the AC+erm custom Google search engine, which is intended to improve the relevance of search results by focusing only on records-related websites.

Quick links to the online sources are now available through a set of Sqworl groups – links are grouped according to the same categories as used in the main list. If you haven't used Sqworl before, it is a useful tool for grouping ultiple links under one URL; it also provides a pleasant graphic interface using small snapshots of the sites linked to, rather than the standard bare blue underlined text.

Feel free to let us know if you think there are any glaring omissions from the list, or anything else that might usefully be added to it.

Monday, 16 November 2009

A Vision for ERM? Third AC+erm colloquium – Outputs

We have just posted some outputs from the third colloquium for the AC+erm Project to our website.
We would welcome any comments you may wish to make on these outputs or on any other aspect of the colloquia or the project as a whole.
The third AC+erm colloquium focused on the ‘Systems and Technology’ facet of the project and was held on 24 September in the Merchants’ Hall in Edinburgh. Just under 30 delegates attended, adding to and extending the data from the e-Delphi data in a series of discussion forums.
The outputs from the colloquium consist of versions of the initial documents presented to the delegates, adapted to include their collated notes together with notes taken by the project team.
During the workshop, delegates also developed their ideas graphically; the outputs include images of these items.
The slides accompanying the project team’s presentations are also provided.
Forum 1
Delegates were asked to consider and comment on the full list of issues from the Systematic Literature Review and Systems and technology e-Delphi study, to add any issues they thought were missing, and to make any further comments or notes for discussion that they felt necessary.
Forum 2
Delegates examined proposed solutions to ‘Approaches to e-records management’, one of the five issues selected for further exploration in the colloquium.
Each group was allocated a single issue for discussion. Firstly, each delegate in the group completed a questionnaire (based on that used in Round 4 of the Systems and technology Delphi Study) in respect of one of the eight proposed solutions to the issue.
All delegates in the group then discussed the issue, electing one of their number as rapporteur to take notes and feed back briefly at the end of the discussion
Delegates were divided into four groups, each of which was invited to draft a vision for e-records management.
The workshop activities were conducted using draft tools (vignettes) developed by the Project. The vignettes used were of three types—‘fridge phrases’, rich pictures, and narrative.
Each group as a whole drafted a vision for ERM. The whole group used the ‘Fridge Phrases’ tool to develop the vision and / or to articulate it more fully. They then went on to communicate the vision through rich pictures, narrative, or both.
The groups reported back their thoughts not only on the topic itself but also on the usefulness or otherwise of the vignettes as tools in this context.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License