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AHDS Notes on Writing the AHRC Technical Appendix

Introductory AHDS advice on completing the technical appendix


Content written on: 10th October 2003 by Hamish James.
Content updated: 13th March 2008 by Gareth Knight.

These notes supplement AHRC information on completing the technical appendix for Resource Enhancement Scheme, Research Grant Scheme, Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts and some other awards (see the AHRC Research Funding Guide and other Guidance Notes, available via http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/ahrb/website/apply/research.asp).

The AHRC requests the submission of a technical appendix in addition to the main application form for any project that will involve the creation of a significant digital resource.

These notes are not part of the official AHRC guidance for applicants.

The electronic technical appendix has a fixed maximum length, although extra text, charts and diagrams can be added if required. For any questions related to the use of electronic submission, applicants should contact the Joint Electronic Submission Helpdesk (JeSHelp AT rcuk.ac.uk. There are specific details on character limits in the technical appendix on the J-eS website.

Project Management
From the AHRC Application Guidance:
Project management: you should indicate how you will manage the project to ensure its timely and successful completion, and clearly state the electronic output(s). In particular you should address the following:
  • management and reporting structure
  • project timetable
  • project deliverables
  • monitoring process

In addition, you should describe how you will pilot the project, as described in Section 2 of the Technical Appendix, including the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot project.

Applicants should use the project management section to demonstrate that they are capable and prepared to manage a potentially large and complex project team, including both subject and technical specialists, who may be assisted by institutional support staff or outside contractors. Large projects should devote more attention to this section than small projects.

The key information to provide is: who is in charge; lines of authority and responsibility within the project; an outline timetable (or reasons why a timetable cannot yet be constructed); procedures for monitoring progress during the project, and your strategy for dealing with unanticipated problems.

The key item to include is a project timetable. The timetable should divide the proposed work into a series of work packages, indicating which staff will be responsible for each work package, how long they will take, and any critical relationships between work packages. Project timetables based on realistic estimates of the time needed to complete each task have the most credibility, and if you are estimating the time needed on the basis of previous work, pilot projects, trials or other experience, then it is to your advantage to highlight this by providing brief details on how the estimates have been reached.

Relevant information in the main body of the application can be referenced or duplicated in this section.

For more information see the AHDS Information Paper on Project Management.

Data Development
From the AHRC Application Guidance:
data development methods: in describing data resource development methods you should demonstrate your knowledge and application of best practice. You may wish to focus on some or all of the following issues:
  • content selection
  • copyright/intellectual property rights
  • data/file formats
  • documenting the resource
  • advice sought on planning your proposed project
  • consultation with projects using similar methods

The content of this section will vary considerably depending on the nature of the digital resource that is proposed. Broadly speaking, this section should describe how the content of the digital resource would be created, organised, delivered and documented. Projects developing software should outline the software development methodology, especially testing. This section should include brief but prominent explanations of the role of relevant technical standards and best practices in the project. Relevant standards and best practices may include those for the areas of digitisation (scanning images, transcribing texts, or capturing audio or moving images, maps etc.), metadata (especially resource discovery metadata), documentation (especially information describing the provenance, construction, structure and usage of digital resources), resource delivery (especially issues related to online delivery such as accessibility) and long-term viability of the resource (use of open standards, selection of file formats). Quality assurance procedures for the digitisation process should also be addressed in this section

Infrastructural Support
From the AHRC Application Guidance:
infrastructural support: describe the hardware, software and relevant technical expertise that is available to you, indicating what additional hardware, software and relevant technical expertise, support and training is likely to be needed and how it will be acquired. You should also describe the backup procedures that your project will use to safeguard your electronic resource during its development.

This section should be used to indicate the level of I.T. support available from within the project team or the institution, and any budgeted or agreed external support. Projects that plan to rely on institutional I.T. services should demonstrate that support requirements have been discussed and agreed. With external support, it is important to provide some evidence that demonstrates that the organisation which will provide support has appropriate knowledge and expertise.

Backup procedures should be described in detail in this section. Multiple backup copies held on and off-site in appropriate formats, on appropriate media, and created at an appropriate frequency (in relation to the frequency of changes to the digital resource) are expected.

For more information see the AHDS Information Paper on the digitisation process.

Data Preservation
From the AHRC Application Guidance:

you should demonstrate that you have sought advice on any issues which apply to the resource and its preservation; you should indicate what plans you have to preserve the data, either with the AHDS or through some alternative mechanism; you should also demonstrate the sustainability of the electronic resource created by the project.

It will be a condition of award that you offer any significant digital resources created as an output of your project for deposit with the AHDS. Data created as a result of your research, and accompanied by appropriate documentation, should be offered for deposit at the AHDS within three months of the end of the project. The AHRC allows time and funding for the preparation of digital data and documentation for archiving, and the organisation of this work can be described briefly in this section. Preparing, documenting and depositing your resource with the AHDS constitutes a major step in the process of preservation.

If depositing your resource may involve unusual problems - large resources (50GB or more) and interactive websites for example - it is important that you contact the AHDS as early as possible, preferably not less than one month before the deadline for applications. Applicants who wish to discuss a waiver of deposit should also contact the AHDS as early as possible, and at least two weeks before the deadline for applications. If a waiver of deposit is agreed, please indicate this in the technical appendix.

If developing your own mechanisms (e.g. a dynamic website) for dissemination, you should also consider the sustainability of such a mechanism. How will the content and technology and cost of such mechanisms be maintained once the initial funding has ended? If needs be, this issue can also be considered in the Access section of the Technical Appendix.

Access

From the AHRC Application Guidance: you should demonstrate that you have sought advice on and addressed all issues of access. You should indicate what plans you have to make the data/resource available

Projects may wish to deposit their resource with a suitable digital repository, or make it available through your own web site or optical media. This section of the form should articulate how this will be carried out. In particular, it should concentrate on how such a mechanism will be built, the underlying technologies being exploited, the staff time and expertise required to create such a mechanism and any access registrations for users.

If constructing a website to deliver a resource, applicants should take care to follow the World Wide Web Consortium guidelines for usability and accessibility. The AHDS paper on building websites can offer further help here.

Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues

From the AHRC Application Guidance: you should demonstrate that you have sought advice on and addressed all copyright and rights management issues which apply to the resource.

This section should be used to describe legal and ethical limitations that will affect use of the resource. Rights issues, particularly copyright and data protection, must be clearly addressed and plans for dealing with these issues must be in place. This can involve tracing copyright holders, developing and agreeing licence contracts or getting the appropriate agreements with respect to data protection.

If the completed resource will be subject to restrictive access or rights agreements (e.g. publisher's exclusive copyright, archive restrictions regarding the use of their materials, author's copyright), you should indicate if this would affect the archiving organisation’s ability to preserve the digital resource and any measures that will be taken to rectify the issue.

If there are no rights issues, please state this in your application.

For help on copyright please consult the AHDS copyright pages.