RePAH: a user requirements analysis for research portals in the arts and humanities




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Humanities Research Institute Online, Sheffield University



Peer reviewed



This was a UK-wide research project funded competitively by the AHRC ICT in Arts and Humanities Research Programme. Our brief was to discover user-behaviour and user-needs of researchers in the Arts and Humanities in respect of portals. We set out to discover: 1) Users’ information discovery strategies and internet usage. 2) Users’ awareness and attitudes with respect to currently available online services and tools, including such gateways and portals as current exist. 3) Patterns of recent user-activity in relation to the RDN subject hubs and AHDS. 4) Users’ responses to what future portal developments can deliver. The research is unusual in scope (all the 8 arts and humanities domains covered by the AHRC); scale of enquiry (UK-wide, estimated at 50-60,000 active practitioners); and focus (ICT usage and portal requirements). The outcomes, as short, medium and long term recommendations, were expected to have profound implications for: The tools arts and humanities researchers use to manage their research and discover resources Major service providers such as AHDS and Intute Funding bodies such as AHRC and JISC. Shortly after these recommendations were published, AHRC and JISC announced discontinuation of funding for AHDS. While a direct causal link cannot be demonstrated it is likely that the report was influential in this decision. Our methodology drew on design-based research and applied social-science methods. Quantitative and qualitative techniques were combined to address: a. Published Reports and Evaluations of Service Providers b. Questionnaire survey c. Focus Groups d. Delphi e. Server log analysis f. User trials The report is based on a triangulation approach, looking for the reinforcement of the evidence from one set of data in another before drawing strong conclusions on the basis of it.


RAE 2008, UoA 63 Art and Design


Brown, S. C. and Greengrass, M. (2008)RePAH: a user requirements analysis for research portals in the arts and humanities. Sheffield: Humanities Research Institute Online, Sheffield University.


Research Institute

Institute of Art and Design