Prototype project descriptions database and discovery service
Although it remained under discussion until March 2007, the Library and the Archaeological Computing Laboratory decided not to commit resources to the project. The partners did not reach agreement on project scope so it was not possible to determine strategy, timeline, estimate required resources, finalise project team membership, or identify stakeholders and other potential project partners.
A project descriptions database will contain descriptions of projects undertaken by an organisational unit. It will include information about projects based within the University as well as collaborations with external agencies. Although it will not operate as a project management application it may incorporate content from project management systems.
A project descriptions discovery service will offer a means of searching across a range of project descriptions databases and associated record keeping services based within the University. Further development may extend the service to include coverage of project descriptions hosted within external partner institutions.
- Typical queries supported by a project descriptions database
- Project outcomes
- Project team
- Project stakeholders
- Project resources
- Project implementation strategy
- Project timeline
- Scope of project descriptions used in the prototype project descriptions database
- Project descriptions database data model
- Sample live reports from the database
- Demonstration record creation form
Many project teams in different subject domains and administrative units employ common tools and skills. A project descriptions discovery service will help people discover commonalities beyond their discipline or organisational unit. It will provide information about products and services that may be reused or adapted. It will also enhance scope for collaboration and skills development and broaden awareness of project achievements and outputs.
Rowan Brownlee from the University of Sydney Library eScholarship Division is developing a prototype project descriptions database. Steven Hayes and Ian Johnson from the University of Sydney Archaeological Computing Laboratory have developed Heurist, a knowledge management application which includes project description facilities. The databases have different data structures and the designs reflect the particular needs of their immediate user groups. However there are similarities in the type of information recorded by each system.
A prototype project descriptions discovery service will be developed as a test bed to examine issues surrounding federated and harvested search access to different project description databases. Departmental units which currently record descriptive information about projects have established systems in place. Rather than seeking to mandate a common data structure and description scope, this project will select, modify or create a schema for describing projects. It will develop processes for crosswalking from native data structures and implement mechanisms for harvesting records to a common repository. It will also employ a federated search system for live searching across partner databases, using a search form based on the common schema.
- Reports of projects that have produced outputs related to a category such as publishing, information services, software development or digitisation
- Projects associated with particular University of Sydney Faculties or administrative units
- Projects involving collaborations with particular external organisations or externalities in general.
- Projects involving implementations of particular types of technologies such as JHOVE or COCOON
- Contact details for people who have played particular roles within projects (e.g. graphic designer, metadata analyst)
- Project role history of a particular person.
- Projects undertaken by specific project groups over a span of time
- Projects producing information services or resources that implement a particular controlled vocabulary or classification system
- Projects implementing particular technological or educational standards
- Projects producing outputs available under a particular type of licence.
The project will provide
- sample project descriptions database
- data model
- mysql database implementation
- user interfaces for searching, record creation and report generation
- federated and harvested discovery service
- project description metadata schema
- procedures for creating crosswalks from native data structures
- harvesting tools
- repository of harvested project descriptions
- user interfaces for federated and harvested searching
- recommendations on service maintenance and management
The project will not provide
- project management system
Project implementation strategy
The prototype project descriptions database describes
- people and their roles as members of project teams
- projects and project teams
- project outputs
People may be directly affiliated with the University or external to the organisation. The service may describe characteristics such as contact details and affiliations. University of Sydney people may have multiple internal and external affiliations over time.
Project team members are people who form teams to work on projects. As well as having affiliations and contact details they have additional attributes that describe their associations with particular projects. One team member may play multiple roles within a project and be a member of many project teams over time.
Projects may be described and categorised using a range of terminologies and classification systems. A project may be of a type (such as publishing, collection development, software development, digitisation) concern a particular subject or range of topical subject areas and be associated with one or more faculty or organisational units. Projects may be related to other projects in a linear or hierarchical chain of associations. One project may produce multiple outputs
Outputs are associated with projects. They are of various types including publications, events and services and each type may have subtypes (such as software, information services, conferences and journals) that may be subject to usage conditions.
An item of software is written using programming languages and may incorporate or be dependent on other technologies. It runs on operating systems, may implement standards and be available for download. It may have a homepage, source code repository, mailing list and bug database. As a project output is it associated with a project team, the roles undertaken by team members and their affiliations.
The model describes relationships between people, projects and project outputs. It is intended to reflect and assist discussion of requirements and provide a model for database implementation. The diagram was created using Microsoft Visio.
The samples illustrate some of the types of reports or enquiries catered for through a project descriptions database. The reports are generated each time the page loads. The page uses PHP scripts to search a MySQL database. The database was implemented with reference to the above data model and contains a small number of records.
The form is not implemented and serves to illustrate the range of data that might be collected by a project descriptions database. It is not intended to reflect a user interface design. It is simply a collection of fields arranged by category.