Posted on June 18th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
Academic staff at the University of Lincoln – it’s now possible to use the reading list “bookmarklet” to add books, journal articles, etc. to your reading lists, directly from Find it at Lincoln.
(Until recently this hasn’t been possible; to add books to reading lists you would have had to use the library catalogue; to bookmark journal articles you’d have had to visit the published article on the web. Both of those existing methods will still work fine!)
To add a resource to a reading list from Find it at Lincoln:
- First install the reading list bookmarklet in your web browser.
- Then, search Find it at Lincoln for the resource you want to add.
- When you’ve located the book/article (here’s an example), click on the “Add to my Bookmarks” button in your browser toolbar.
- This will launch the reading list system and show the citation information for the book/article. You will be asked to log in if you haven’t done so already.
- You can then choose either to “Create” the bookmark (and save it in your bookmarks area for later), or “Create & Add to List“ – you will then be given the option of which list(s) to add it to. If you are certain that the article is available in full text within the University of Lincoln’s collections, you can also tick the “Online Resource” option which will make it obvious to students that the full text of the article is available online.
- For help & support with the above process please contact your Academic Subject Librarian.
Posted on June 12th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
University of Lincoln ICT services are piloting a beta Virtual Private Network (VPN) service (Remote Access Service – http://remote.lincoln.ac.uk/) to enable secure, flexible access to networked University drives and applications from users’ own computers.
(N.B. this VPN is a different service from the existing Cloud Desktop — http://lncn.eu/cloud — which can be used to provide off-campus access to a complete University Windows 7 desktop. For the vast majority of users, the Cloud Desktop will provide all the access needed.)
VPN access to networked environments are offered by a number of universities, mainly as a service to researchers who have more-complex-than-usual requirements for access to data and services. Access to University applications via the Lincoln Remote Access Service VPN is only by prior arrangement with ICT services at the moment.
There have been a couple of enquiries about the possibility of using a VPN as an additional route to library e-resources from off-site (in addition to existing authentication methods such as OpenAthens, EZproxy, and the Cloud Desktop)… whether the use of a VPN could simplify e-resource access over and above those existing methods, especially for “high-end” researchers who are using a VPN already for access to networked drives and applications.
Potential advantages of VPNs for accessing library e-resources:
(Thanks to several people on Twitter for suggesting some of these.)
- Straightforward (once VPN is configured) to access e-resources from an open web session without additional need to log in – at least for basic, IP-authenticated access;
- Less inefficient/convoluted route to e-resources – fewer clicks to full text;
- No need for a standard starting point as everyone is ‘on campus’, no need to control start point for e-resources or rewrite resource URLs for access (unlike reverse proxy/EZproxy);
- Users can access library e-resources using same method of access as networked drives & applications etc.
- Flexible and powerful; user can configure settings – meets complex needs of “high end” users i.e. researchers whose requirements would otherwise go unmet;
- Researchers may have familiarity with VPNs already from other institutions; it’s possible to have multiple VPN access to multiple institutions’ e-resources if you have user rights at more than one university;
- Allows users to use their own hardware – researchers have the freedom to run processes and manipulate data sets on the same machine they’re using to accessing e-resources;
- “Safer” method of access (safer for whom?)
- ‘Sledgehammer to crack a nut’: existing methods of e-resource access are sufficient for most needs – very small potential audience for VPNs;
- Danger of redundancy – multiple methods of access providing same ‘IP-spoofing’ functionality (EZproxy, Cloud Desktop, other remote desktop methods); multiple methods of access are potentially confusing to users;
- User has to set up and configure VPN (unlike reverse proxy): unnecessarily complex for majority of users;
- Requires that the user can install and configure software – too complicated for some users; difficulties with access from employers’ computers, NHS sites and other libraries;
- VPNs can be unstable;
- Encouraging VPN use for e-resource access may put unnecessary strain on VPN servers;
- Danger of e-resource access failing as traffic is needlessly bounced between VPN and EZproxy;
- More difficult for libraries to restrict access to resources with specific access conditions (I’d argue that these types of resources should not be IP-authenticated in the first place!);
- Requires that libraries maintain accurate IP ranges with thousands of suppliers;
- Doesn’t help with UK Federation-protected resources (at least, not at Lincoln at the moment) – users would have to log in again to access these resources even if already connected to VPN;
- Problems with bookmarking and sharing URLs – access made seamless over VPN will not be the same if a user bookmarks a link whist connected to VPN and e.g. puts it on Blackboard – this is not obvious;
- Increased requirement for ICT support.
Examples from UK Higher Education: these universities offer VPN access specifically for access to library resources:
- St Andrews
Lots of other institutions have a VPN for access to drives/applications etc., but state that VPNs are not necessary or not recommended for access to library e-resources: Heriot-Watt, Oxford, York, etc.
Posted on June 10th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
I’m immensely excited that the following Grade 7 developer job at the University of Lincoln (initially for a fixed term of two years) is now open for applications. Please contact me if you’d like to discuss the role. If you don’t know Lincoln, it’s an interesting, historic small city and the University’s waterside Brayford Pool campus is a very nice place to work.
You can download the job description document, and apply online, at:
Research Information Services Developer
Brayford Library Team
Salary: From £30,424 per annum
This post is fixed term for two years
Closing Date: Sunday 30 June 2013
We are seeking to appoint an innovative and enthusiastic software developer, with demonstrable experience and understanding of research in an HE environment.
Based in the Library, and reporting to the Head of Electronic Library Services, this exciting new role will lead on coordinating and developing the University’s services and resources for the researcher community, including support for Open Access publishing and research data management.
You can expect to contribute towards significant institutional change in the way research information and research data is managed, analysed and disseminated at the University of Lincoln.
Working closely with other colleagues within the Library, ICT and the Research Office, you will be responsible for leading the technical design and development of research information services at Lincoln, including research data management, bibliometrics and research intelligence, research dashboarding, and the University’s Institutional Repository.
You must have an excellent understanding of the technologies and programming languages used in developing data-driven web services to support research. You will also have successfully managed projects, have good communication skills, and enjoy working as a member of a team in a busy environment.
You must able to take initiative, be well organised and have a proven ability to prioritise and meet tight deadlines. A familiarity with the current UK research environment is also essential.
Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Paul Stainthorp <email@example.com>for an informal discussion on 01522 886 193 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on May 24th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
These instructions are for University of Lincoln library staff.
University of Lincoln staff users have two separate identifiers on our systems: an account ID (based on a user’s name – mine is “pstainthorp”), and a separate, six-digit internal University employee ID.
Normally, an internal employee ID number never changes. However in a small number of circumstances, an individual’s employment status changes to the extent that they are given a new, different employee ID by Human Resources.
Employee IDs are used ‘behind the scenes’ to persistently identify a user in a number of Library/ICT systems, including:
[The user doesn't see their employee ID at work in these systems; they will log in using their normal account ID and password.]
If their employee ID changes, they may well lose access to their original profile on all of the above systems. This will seem mysterious to the user, because they will still be logging in to the system with an unchanged account ID (and being granted a new profile associated with their new employee ID).
In RefWorks, it’s possible to recover the contents of a user’s original profile (i.e. their stored references) like this:
N.B. this is a bit of a ‘nuclear option’ and should only be done if there’s no other way round the problem. If you don’t understand the instructions below then you definitely shouldn’t attempt it!
- Log in to the RefWorks administrators’ site and go to Usage > Account Activity/Inactivity.
- (You may need to change the drop-down list to view profiles that have not been accessed in a while).
- Locate the user’s old, original profile by decoding the “Login” identifier (starts with PUID-…). It should decode to an employee ID that is no longer associated with the user. If you don’t know how to decode RefWorks PUIDs, please speak to me.
- Click on the hyperlinked “# Logins” number to view the details of that RefWorks profile.
- Hit the “Reset Password” button then click “OK”.
- Make a note of the “Login” identifier (PUID-… etc.) and the new, reset password.
- Go to http://lncn.eu/bgt3 and log in to the user’s old RefWorks profile using the PUID identifier and new password.
- Within this RefWorks profile, go to Tools > Backup & Restore. Under “Backup”, make sure that all the “Backup Options” are ticked, and hit “Perform Backup”.
- Once the backup is complete, download and save the resulting .rwb file.
- Log out of RefWorks.
- Now log in to RefWorks the ‘normal way’ via Athens, with the user’s login credentials – account ID and password (this will connect you to their new, replacement RefWorks profile associated with their new employee ID).
- Go to Tools > Backup & Restore again. Under “Restore”, tick all the “Restore Options”, click the “Choose File” button and select the .rwb file you saved earlier.
- RefWorks will warn you that everything in the current profile will be overwritten. If the user is happy with this, hit “OK”. The contents of the user’s new RefWorks profile will be entirely replaced with that of the old, redundant profile.
- Now the user can continue to use RefWorks as normal.
Posted on May 7th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
With the Orbital project at its end, and plans for a University research information / research data service afoot, I’m reviewing the excellent work carried out by our (now-departed) developers Harry Newton and Nick Jackson – work which linked up CKAN, the Orbital ’bridge’ application, and the Lincoln Repository (EPrints) using SWORD – described in earlier blog posts here and here.
“One important piece of work that we’re undertaking at the moment in Orbital is the facility to deposit the existence of a dataset, from CKAN and the University’s new Awards Management System (AMS), into our (EPrints) Repository via SWORD – at the same time requesting a DOI for the dataset via theDataCite API. The software at the centre of this operation is what we refer to as Orbital Bridge.”
This deposit workflow is now broadly working as it should – I think only a few tweaks would be necessary now to turn this into a working tool for the University of Lincoln.
Most urgent is the need for the University to sign up with the DataCite DOI service, which would secure a DOI for each dataset record deposited from CKAN and hence formally published by the University. This subscription should form part of the new research information service.
The underlying code could be used for other SWORD-enabled deposit from sources of metadata (e.g. the Library’s discovery system, Find it at Lincoln), to the Lincoln Repository as the University’s bibliographic ‘system of record’.
Warning: this is an extremely screenshot-heavy blog post! Click on any one of the screenshots below to view a larger image.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough of the entire process of adding a dataset to CKAN, and depositing it as a record in the Lincoln Repository.
- Go to the Researcher Dashboard at: https://orbital.lincoln.ac.uk/ and click on “Sign In”.
- Enter your staff accountID and password to sign in to the Researcher Dashboard.
- Once you have been signed in and returned to the Researcher Dashboard, click on your name (in the top right-hand corner) and then click on “My Projects”.
- You will see an overview of your research projects – both funded projects (derived from the AMS), and unfunded projects you have added locally. Click on the name of the project you want to add data to.
- You will be taken to a page for that research project. On the right-hand side of this page, under the heading “Options”, click on “Create Research Data Environment”.
- You will be taken to the University’s CKAN research data platform, where a page/group will have been created which corresponds to your project in the Researcher Dashboard. Sign in to CKAN using your staff accountID (there is currently no single sign-on between the Researcher Dashboard and CKAN) and password and you should be returned to the same page. However you will probably be sent instead to the CKAN home page, in which case you will have to look again for your project under the “Groups” menu.
- Toward the top of the project screen in CKAN, click on “Add Dataset” > “New Dataset…”.
- Fill in the form with information about the overall dataset, including the following fields:
- License (N.B. US spelling!)
- Then click on “Add Dataset”
- If you now click on “Further information” tab on the left-hand menu, you can add the following additional information about the dataset (this is not obvious from the initial dataset form):
- Author email
- Maintainer email
- Summary [of changes]
- To attach individual data document(s)—which CKAN refers to as “resources”—to the dataset, scroll down the page and click on “Upload a file” (there are other options) > “Choose file” > “Upload”.
- Then fill in the form with the following basic information about the “resource”:
- Resource Type
- Datastore enabled (ticked by default)
- Mimetype (Inner)
- “Extra Fields” (user-defined, or used by Orbital)
- To deposit a record for this dataset in the Lincoln Repository, go back to the Orbital Researcher Dashboard at: https://orbital.lincoln.ac.uk/ and navigate to your project. Toward the bottom left of the page you should now see a table containing the dataset(s) you have created in CKAN for this project. Choose which dataset you want to deposit, and hit the “Publish to Lincoln Repository” button.
- The Researcher Dashboard will then display a deposit form containing the following fields (some of which should be being autopopulated from CKAN fields but which do not appear to be):
- Type of Data
- Metadata visibility [Show|Hide]
“Publishing will publicly announce the existence of your dataset on the Lincoln Repository, as well as start the process of long-term preservation of your data.“Usually you should only publish a dataset either at the end of a research project, or if the data is being cited in a paper. Publishing a dataset will place some restrictions on the changes you can make to the dataset in the future, such as removing your ability to delete the data. It will also generate a DOI, which allows your dataset to be uniquely identified and located using a simple identifier.“Please check the information in this form and make any necessary changes, as this is the information which will be entered into the published record of the dataset.“If you have any questions about this process please contact a member of the research services team for advice or assistance.”
- When you hit the “Publish Dataset” button, the dataset record from CKAN will be used to create a record in the Lincoln Repository. The record will be submitted for review by the Repository team, who will then make it live. N.B. for the time being, you will see an error “Validation errors: [doi] is a required string“ – this happens because the University does not currently have access to the live DataCite DOI service, which would secure a DOI for each dataset record deposited from CKAN. This should form part of the new research information service.
- Here’s an example of a record in the Lincoln Repository, created from a CKAN dataset and made live by the Repository team.
Problems with the deposit process as it currently stands:
- Permissions are not correctly cascaded from a project the Researcher Dashboard to a group in CKAN.
- There is currently no single sign-on between the Researcher Dashboard and CKAN.
- When CKAN challenges a user to log in to a group, they should be redirected back to the group page after logging in – instead they get sent back to the CKAN home page, in which case they will have to look again for their project under the “Groups” menu.
- A minor one – in CKAN ”License” (noun) appears in US spelling (should be “Licence”).
- In order to add all the information needed to deposit a dataset from CKAN, user has to click ”Further information” tab on the left-hand menu (this is not obvious from the initial dataset form).
- Some of the field labels in CKAN are a bit opaque or use technical terms (“Mimetype”) which could do with explanation.
- When depositing to EPrints, some of the deposit fields should be being autopopulated from CKAN fields – this does not appear to be happening. The fields affected are:
- “Description” (could be derived from CKAN dataset/resource Description fields)
- “Type of Data” (could be derived from CKAN resource Format field)
- Repository records created from CKAN have the data “Creator” attached, but not the “Maintainer”.
- Repository records created from CKAN don’t have a link back to the CKAN dataset (should go in the EPrints “Official URL” field) – this will be required to provide access to the data.
- After deposit, users see the error message “Validation errors: [doi] is a required string” – the University does not currently have access to the live DataCite DOI service, which would secure a DOI for each dataset record deposited from CKAN.
Posted on April 26th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
The final within-project version of the Orbital Research Data Management training materials are now live on the Orbital Researcher Dashboard website. They have been written collaboratively by the Orbital project team, and draw on a lot of existing RDM training and guidance material from across the web (in particular, from the DCC).
We intend that these materials will continue to be maintained and developed as part of the new University-wide research information service mentioned in a previous blog post.
The training materials can be accessed at https://orbital.lincoln.ac.uk/ and cover the following areas:
- What is research data?
- The research data lifecycle
- Policies affecting your research data
- Data Management Planning (DMP)
- Data search and discovery tools
- Data storage and security
- Legal and ethical issues
- Tools for working with your data
- Data publishing and citation
- Licences for sharing your data
- Data curation and preservation
- Workshops and training events
- Help and support
The source text for each page is stored in an open Github repository (at http://github.com/unilincoln/rdm) in Markdown format. The page admin tools in the Researcher Dashboard can then be used to link to the source document, which is then formatted in the University’s Common Web Design.
These web pages will be used to support the ongoing RDM training for postgraduate students, which will shortly be rolled out to University staff.
Posted on April 24th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
Occasionally we see problems on students’ PCs/laptops with the Library’s ebooks – instead of the pages of the ebook displaying on the screen as they should, the browser prompts the user to download each page in turn to their computer. This renders the ebook pretty much unreadable!
(Screenshots below: correct and incorrect display of ebook pages.)
Here are some ways to stop this from happening:
- Make sure Adobe Reader or a browser Adobe PDF plugin is installed. If a different PDF reader (e.g. Foxit) is installed, you may need to un-install it and replace with Adobe Reader. If you get errors installing the latest version of Adobe Reader (arising from residual config files left by an old PDF reader), try installing a previous version of Adobe, then upgrade to the newest version.
- For the newest version of Adobe Reader, version XI: The newest version of Reader doesn’t include a preference setting to open web-based PDFs. Instead, you have to change your browser’s plugin settings.
- For older versions of Adobe Reader: Older versions of Reader include a preference setting to change this behaviour. Launch Adobe Reader and go to Edit > Preferences… (Ctrl+K). Under “Categories” select “Internet”‘, then from the “Web Browser Options” section tick “Display PDF in browser” and hit OK. If it is already ticked, try un-ticking it, close down Adobe Reader, then follow the process again – this can nudge PDFs into behaving.
- Try a different web browser. PDFs can stubbornly refuse to display in one browser, but behave fine in another. You may also need to close down and restart the browser, and/or delete cookies and clear the cache.
- Check to see if the computer has download manager / download accelerator software—e.g. Internet Download Manager (IDM)—installed. If so, you may need to alter the file type settings so that the download manager does not interfere with PDF files. (Screenshot below from IDM configuration options.)
- All of the above can be problematic if the user is on a work laptop which is locked-down (i.e. they can’t change settings or install software). In that case, see if they can connect to the Cloud Desktop instead.
- Still not working? Try these pages from Adobe Acrobat Help: page one | page two.
Posted on March 28th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
The electronic journals A-to-Z has been updated this week, with new links for more than 970 journal titles on the websites of their respective publishers.
These e-journals used to be accessible through the SwetsWise platform. This platform has now been switched off, and the University of Lincoln no longer has access to e-journals via SwetsWise.
Instead, the same e-journals can now be accessed on familiar “native” publisher platforms such as:
…plus a host of smaller, single-title publishers’ websites.
We know that SwetsWise has been a familiar platform for e-journals that some people will miss(!) – and while it does/did provide some consistency of access to journals across multiple publishers, there are a number of advantages to moving toward using the native publisher link for all titles, including:
- Reduced platform costs for the Library;
- Improved E-Resources Management (ERM) procedures for keeping e-journals up to date;
- A better idea of exactly which titles we have access to from which publishers;
- Academic staff tend to value the “native” publisher platform over aggregator platforms like SwetsWise;
- Publisher platforms provide access to valued Early Publication content and extra features.
Inevitably with such a large change to so many e-journals at once, there will be the odd problem title which comes to light. If you spot any errors, inconsistencies, or problems with accessing e-journal content at the University of Lincoln, please report it.
Posted on March 14th, 2013 by Paul Stainthorp
Thanks to three days of intensive work by ICT Services (Tim Simmonds & David Whitehead), the Lincoln Repository is now back online at: http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/
What’s different (better!) about the new version?
- Now running the newest version of EPrints software (v.3.3);
- Styled using the University of Lincoln corporate blue Common Web Design;
- Includes the REF2014 plugin (http://www.eprints.org/ref2014/);
- Includes access to the EPrints “Bazaar” plugin store for extending the Repository (http://bazaar.eprints.org/);
- Has a greatly improved system for managing staff users (developed by David Whitehead), which should make the Repository run much faster;
- Will provide faster updates to the Staff Directory (http://staff.lincoln.ac.uk/);
- Provides a better platform for future development and integration with other University services.
Inevitably there will be a few oddities and teething problems with the new Repository. If you spot anything that doesn’t seem to be behaving, please report it using the Feedback form on the library website (http://lncn.eu/nty) and we’ll investigate.
For posterity’s sake: a screenshot of the old, green, EPrints 3.1 Repository (including the message we put on it warning of the upgrade):
And the new, CWD-blue, EPrints 3.3 version: