Support for research outputs beyond books and articles

This blog post explains a project we are running in the library to see how we can help researchers make the most of works that aren’t text based or aren’t in a digital form.

A  huge variety of research outputs beyond books and articles is produced at the University of Kent. Such outputs demonstrate, and provide exciting further opportunities for, innovation. Information Services is keen to ensure that these types of work are preserved in the long term and that researchers have what they need to make the best possible use of them.

The challenge

But these different types of output create challenges for preservation, description and discovery. For example:

  • very large files
  • multiple files, or objects associated with an output – which is the definitive one?
  • difficulties deciding where the research data ends and where the research output begins – at which point should each be captured? What should be recorded in the Kent Academic Repository and what should be recorded in the Kent Data Repository?
  • outputs can be difficult to describe and do not fit the formal metadata standards adopted by academic repositories eg. there are not the right “item types” in KAR or the fields needed to record the output properly

What we aim to do about it

We will:

  • investigate how we are, or are not, meeting academic researcher needs at Kent regarding the recording, preserving and supporting of all research outputs
  • look into whether outputs would benefit from digitisation and what form would this take
  • visit other institutions, look into best practice and compile a report of our findings
  • produce a gap analysis table which matches what we are currently doing at Kent against potential areas of development
  • list and prioritise development and alterations to the Kent Academic Repository and Kent Data Repository 
  • design webpages and guidance for creators of outputs that are not digital or are not text-based, including a glossary of terms

And then there’s the REF

While there are no requirements concerning data for the REF 2021 it is highly likely that this will form part of the requirements for the post-2021 REF. There is a new requirement following the shift away in the REF from a direct one-to-one publication to individual researcher relationship, towards a more holistic view of research output, environment and impact for an institution or Unit of Assessment. We now have a need and a responsibility to do the very best for all types of research outputs from all types of research.  This project seeks to address a known challenge in supporting and enabling a research environment for non-text based or non-digital research outputs.

Talk to us!

We would be interested to hear from you, especially if you have input about your particular requirements already. Contact us on

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