Humanities Computing Unit Report March to May 1998

The Unit has maintained its usual high level of activities over the term, including two major public symposia, and a full range of teaching activities. Details are summarized below. In addition, during March a considerable amount of time was devoted to staff appraisals and strategic planning for future activities in line with the recommendations of the OUCS Review. Planning for implementation of the unit's new Humanities Computing Development Team has begun, following the conclusion of a survey of the needs of Humanities faculties.

Centre for Humanities Computing

The main activity of the CHC staff has been to follow up on the increased Training programme for next term. So far we have been in correspondence with several faculties to arrange Postgraduate and Undergraduate training. A full report of the training schedule will be presented to the CCA at the beginning of next term. In addition to this we have run an Open Day allowing members of the University to come and visit the the HCU to meet staff and discuss future projects, a further Training Day, presented an OUCS course on HotMetal, and assisted in general OUCS advisory.

Mrs Cooper has undertaken production of a series of short guides for undergraduates, and is rewriting the the more expanded subject-specific guides which are issued at the beginning of each year. She is preparing a talk on Internet Searching, Citing Electronic Resources, and on On-Line Bibliographies and Scholarly Resources (also to come out as a short guide). Mr Stephens has assisted in developing a CD-ROM for the Bodleian/Libraries Automation Service and is supervising (in part) an MSt student from the University of Portsmouth who is assisting in the development of HUMBUL. Dr Lee has continued in his role of Chair of the Datasets Working Party, and Secretary of the CCA. He ran the staff assessment of Michael Stevens and has organised two informal meetings for all the Humanities IT Support staff. He supervised the completion of the HCDT survey and its dissemination. He organised the one-day colloquium entitled 'Beyond the Hype' and has presented at conferences in London and Dundee. In addition, he has supervised the continued development of the JTAP project.

CTI Centre for Textual Studies

The likely outcome of the recent CTI Review Committee, charged with determing the future of all CTI Centres, remains unclear; we would however like to thank Oxford faculties for their letters of support, which have been passed to the Review Committe.

The Centre is a partner institution in the ASTER (Assisting Small-group Teaching by Electronic Resources) TLTP 3 Project. The project is mainly concerned with the dissemination of good practice and will result in a 0.5 FTE appointment over 3 years from 1 Sept 1998.

In March the Centre organised a one-day conference on teaching European literature and culture, the proceedings of which will be published by the Centre. Institutional workshops were held at Huddersfield and Queen's University Belfast, and presentations were made at subject-specific conferences in classics and theology. The online preprint of the Centre's journal Computers & Texts 16 was also published during this period.

The Centre (particularly Sarah Porter) is working with the AHDS on a report to the JISC concerning the scholarly exploitation of digital resources, in connexion with which she has participated in a number of User Needs Workshops for the various AHDS Service Providers.

Oxford Text Archive

The OTA launched an experimental version of its new website in March, with much improved searching and delivery facilities. Feedback on the new site ( has been extremely positive. In April, we organized and ran a highly successful one-day User Needs workshop, as part of the wider JISC/CALT consultation excercise being undertaken by the AHDS to investigate the community's concerns with regard to the scholarly exploitation of digital resources.

The OTA will play a leading role in Oxford's contribution to the eLib phase 3a CEDARS (CURL Exemplars for Digital ARchiveS) Project, and will be contributing to the "Access Issues" Working Group: it is planned to recruit an additional staff member to work on this project later in the year.

Between March and June the OTA contributed to the interim evaluation of the AHDS, which has involved substantial liaison with both depositors and end-users of the Archive, as well as projects and individuals who have consulted with us since our inception as an AHDS Service Provider in 1996. Lastly, we submitted our Annual Report for the year 1st April 1997 - 31st March 1998, which will be incorporated into the AHDS' integrated report for submission to the AHDS Steering Committee, as well as being available as a stand-alone document on the OTA's website.

Conferences etc.

Planning for the HCU annual Text Encoding Summer School, to be held in July, is well underway. The programme for this year's major conference on Teaching and Language Corpora, to be held in Keble following TESS is also being finalised.

Mr Burnard ran a TEI Workshop at the EP98 conference, and a week long training session on language corpora for the University of Bologna. He also gave papers at the international ICAME conference in Belfast, and at the European Language Resources Evaluation Conference held in Granada in May. The work presented at the latter, relating to the evaluation of language corpora, was done in conjunction with the University of Lancaster, with whom further collaboration on a new corpus building initiative is planned.