Using the G4HE Highlight Collaboration Report

In response to feedback from our testing group, we have added a Highlight Collaboration report which allows users to view their top collaborations and funders. Feedback is much appreciated, let us know what you think in the comments or by contacting bex at cottagelabs dot com.


Using the G4HE software to create a benchmarking report

A couple of weeks ago we published a screencast demonstrating how you can use the G4HE tool to create a collaborations report.

Since then we have been busy updating the functionality and it is now possible to create a benchmarking report following the instructions in this new screencast!

As always, we really appreciate your feedback – please feel free to have a go at creating a benchmarking report and let us know any comments or suggestions you might have via this blog or through Bex (bex at cottagelabs dot com.)

Weekly round-up 09/08/2013

This week’s project meeting centered mainly around the project communications, which are becoming critically important as the deadline is only a few months away.

There was a lot of discussion around the Engagement event, with the conversation moving towards the idea of running this as a webinar, perhaps in the run-up to a larger event later in the year. Prior to these events, a sustained and targeted communications campaign will be run to generate interest in both the event, and the project in general.

In addition, we talked a lot about the potential format for a larger, cross-project event and whether this would be run by Jisc or the Research Councils. There needs to be further discussion on this subject, which will be covered in next week’s communications meeting.

Technically, the project has made good progress this week, with the collaborations report being tested by our volunteer user group and feedback beginning to come in.  Work also began on the benchmarking report, which will be available for testing as soon as it is complete.

If you would like to have a go at generating a collaborations report, this screencast shows you how – let us know how you get on via this blog or by contacting bex at cottagelabs dot com.

How to use the G4HE software to create a collaborations report

This screencast shows you how you can use the G4HE software to create a collaborations report – have a go and let us have your feedback! You can contact us via this blog, or email Bex, our comms co-ordinator at bex at cottagelabs dot com.

G4HE architecture overview

The above diagram demonstrates the architecture of the software system we are building for the G4HE project. The core parts are:

Get data from remote sources

We have developed (and will develop more) processes that can be run on our server to retrieve relevant data from suitable remote sources. This section is built in a plugin style so that when other suitable remotes are identified, all we have to do is write another ingest method and add it to the list. After these processes run, we have a local copy of all relevant data, and we can re-run these processes whenever we need to re-sync with the remotes.

Build our own index

We then build a series of processor methods that will read from our local copy and alter it as required to meet the use cases of the G4HE project. This data will be stored in our own index for use by our own API and UI. Any time we need to tweak our data, we will be able to re-run these processes to re-build our index relying only on our local copy of the remotes – so we do not need to poll the remotes every time we rebuild our index.

Regular tidying and updating

After building our own index, we have another set of processes that run at regular intervals to do things like clean errors in the data and to identify entities that should be the same but for some reason are not. These processes will become more complex as the user interface (UI) provides better methods for the user community to interact with the data. Whenever we rebuild our index, we will either run these fixes back into the index during the re-build process, or re-run the tidying processes altogether (using a store of the changes submitted by users to bring the index back to the same state).


Penultimately (or finally, depending on your requirement) we make all the processed data in our index available via our own customised API. This data can then be used by the HE community or, of course, interacted with via our own UI.


Demonstrating the value of our own data processing and API exposures, we provide our own UI to the data on top of our own API. As per current requirements, this will offer collaboration reports via a simple interface including a download as CSV method, and also benchmarking reports with a similar download option. As we build more functionality onto the UI, for example the ability to specify groups of researchers, we will be able to send such specifications back via our API into our own index, providing ongoing improvement to the data.

G4HE presentation at ARMA 2013 Conference

Next week, the G4HE team will be presenting at the ARMA (Association of Research Managers and Administrators) Conference in Nottingham. We’ll be presenting in one of the breakout sessions on Wednesday 12th June.

Breakout session 404: Gateway to Research for HE (G4HE) 

The G4HE project aims to engage with the BIS-funded RCUK Gateway to Research (GtR) initiative to improve the information exchange between HEIs and the Research Councils. The project will develop tools and interfaces to allow both human and machine access to data held on GtR, and elsewhere where that is required. The tools and interfaces will be based on validated use-cases shown to have specific and demonstrable value to HEIs, and will be subject to robust assurance on both quality and sustainability criteria. The use cases will be used to prioritise which data improvements should be addressed and what value this delivers for universities.

The presentation will update the members on the current progress including findings on the completeness and accuracy of the data held by GtR, the outcomes of the prioritisation exercise, and progress on the development of the use-cases.

We will be providing an overview of the project including:

  • Aims of the G4HE project
  • Introduction to GTR (Gateway to Research)
  • Use cases
  • Challenges and opportunities

We’ll also be taking the opportunity to find out more about what information institutions currently gather in relation to research collaborations and get an idea of how they may use the tools being developed through G4HE.

G4HE Development begins!

Last week, the team from Cottage Labs met in sunny Edinburgh to kick off the first ‘sprint’ of the G4HE development. This phase of the project will be broken down into two-week stages or ‘sprints,’ during which the development team will work towards specific goals established during the previous sprint.

A test user group has been set up which will consist of our ARMA volunteers, the G4HE project team and any other individuals who would like to be involved. At the end of each sprint, any new development will be pushed to a demo server and the test users notified so they can have a go with the software and let the project team know any feedback.  Once a week we will have a regular sprint meeting which will provide a forum for discussing feedback from the test user group and establishing the next steps.

Throughout the development stage, the team at Evidence Base will be liaising with the test user group (via our communications coordinator) to get feedback on the evaluation side of the project.

You can read the full details of the development testing plan here. If you think you would like to be part of our test user group and help us with our development and evaluation, you can contact Bex, our G4HE communications coordinator by emailing bex(at)cottagelabs(dot)com.