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LinkSphere project: a Synopsis

By Claire S Ross, on 9 March 2010

A Brief introduction to one of the UCLDH projects

I’m the research assistant (Claire Ross) on project LinkSphere, which is a joint research project with the University of Reading , funded by the JISC Virtual Research Environment 3 programme. The project is aiming to develop a virtual research environment (VRE) which will allow cross-repository searching across various digital collections and archives including (just to name a few) the Silchester IADB, Film Collection, Film, Television and Theatre archive, the Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology collections, The Museum of English Rural Life collections and the Cole Museum of Zoology collections) producing a useful user interface to various disparate digital collections. Within this project we are also integrating a social network for researchers within the University of Reading to enable collaboration and ensure that it is possible to work more closely together on cross-disciplinary projects.

Development of the VRE will be undertaken at the University of Reading, with user analysis and usability from us at UCL.

My role is to focus on the user centric design aspect of the project.  The UCL team are on board to ensure that the project is a fully user driven design process, and that all user requirements are met and fed directly into the development of the project.  User centric design explicitly and actively includes users in the development process form an early stage.  Focusing on user requirements will hopefully enable the LinkSphere project to become embedded and owned by the users, creating a comprehensive collaborative tool specifically designed to the requirements of the users.

User research is currently split into two themes:

  • Research into the use of digital resources within institutional repositories with particular focus on usability and functionality
  • Academic use of Web 2.0 applications and Social Networks, with particular focus on usability, requirements gathering and functionality.

We will post regular updates atbout the usability side of the LinkSphere project on this blog. Further information about the whole project can be found at: