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Researchers’ Weekly Bulletin: the Blog

News for researchers at the Manchester Metropolitan University

Murder, mania and a leech-powered weather machine: up to 4 million pages of historical newspapers now searchable online

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

“The British Library and online publisher brightsolid have launched a website that will transform the way that people use historical newspapers to find out about the past. The British Newspaper Archive website will offer access to up to 4 million fully searchable pages, featuring more than 200 newspaper titles from every part of the UK and Ireland. The newspapers – which mainly date from the 19th century, but which include runs dating back to the first half of the 18th century – cover every aspect of local, regional and national news.”

Highlights include:

“Exhaustive coverage of crime and punishment – from infamous murder trials to heart-rending stories of men, women and children transported to Australia for the most minor thefts (in one case, seven years transportation for the theft of seven cups and five saucers);

Eyewitness accounts of social transformation – newspaper reports, commentary and letters to the editor on topics ranging from the railway mania of the mid-19th century to the extraordinary expansion of the temperance movement;

Illustrations and advertisements – the aspirations and anxieties of the time laid bare in searchable ads and classifieds, peddling everything from the latest fashion to miracle cures for baldness and venereal disease”

It is free to search the site but there is a charge to view images

For further information and to search the archive go to:

[Source: British Library press release: ]

Launch of ‘living’ books breaks barriers between humanities and science

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

“A series of 21 ‘living books’ has been launched online as part of a pioneering initiative designed to provide a bridge between the humanities and the sciences.”

“The Living Books About Life series is written and produced by humanities scholars from universities across the world – from the UK and America to Poland and Australia – and has re-packaged and re-presented science-related research material to make it more accessible to a humanities audience.”

“Funded by JISC and published by the Open Humanities Press (OHP), the books address a number of scientific topics whose unifying theme is life, including air, agriculture, bioethics, cosmetic surgery, energy, neurology and human cloning.”

“The books present recent research on these subjects in a palatable way using interactive maps, podcasts and audio-visual materials. The result, which can be shared freely amongst both academic and non-academic individuals alike, is an engaging and diverse resource for researching and teaching relevant science issues across the humanities.”

To view the books go to: 

[Source: JISC News Feed: ]

JISC and UK Research Councils to build a robust repository infrastructure for the future

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

“Tracking the UK’s research outputs will become easier in the future thanks to JISC and Research Councils UK (RCUK) working together to utilise their expertise.”

“Over the coming months a piece of work called the RIO Extension project will take place, to scope the issues and requirements from universities, funders and researchers in managing the information about research outputs. The aim of the work is to provide the UK education and research sector with clear, practical guidance on recording and sharing information about its research outputs, so that it can be reused for a variety of purposes, including by the systems used by the Research Councils.”

 “Four of the Research Councils are shortly to launch the Research Outcomes System, which will be the primary means by which these Research Councils will collect this kind of information. JISC is supporting the creation of this service by ensuring that it works effectively and efficiently with institutional systems, including the UK repository infrastructure. This flexible and community-owned infrastructure is well suited to meet the demands of the 21st century research community.”

[Source: JISC News Feed: ]

The AV Artifact Atlas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

“The AV Artifact Atlas is for use in the identification and definition of the technical issues and anomalies that can afflict audio and video signals.”

“The goal of AVAA is to advance the audiovisual archiving field generally by strengthening the practice of reformatting archival media content. Archivists can improve the outcomes of their media preservation efforts if they can properly identify and characterize signal issues and anomalies.”

To view the atlas go to:

[Source: Heritage Portal: ]

Interactive map shows sea level changes

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

“A new interactive map that allows users to explore changes in sea level worldwide over five decades has been launched by the UK’s Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL).”

“The PSMSL, operated by the National Oceanography Centre under the auspices of the International Council for Science, is the global databank for sea-level change information. Established in 1933, it is largely thanks to PSMSL’s dataset that we are able to assess the sea-level changes of the last century.”

“The Anomalies Map, generated from a worldwide network of tide gauges, demonstrates how sea level varies from year to year when compared with the long-term average at a particular site, calculated over the period from 1960 to 1990.”

For further information go to:

[Source: Heritage Portal: ]

The European Science Foundation’s EMRC calls for the common use of the Health Research Classification System across Europe

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“The European Science Foundation’s (ESF) membership organisation for all medical research councils in Europe, the EMRC (, has released an ESF-EMRC Science Policy Briefing (SPB) highlighting the need to utilise the Health and Research Classification System (HRCS) as the common categorisation system for health research in Europe and beyond.”

“The HRCS is a system, open and freely sourced, that allows for the organisation and analysis of biomedical and health research funding. Its crucial role is to facilitate research management by answering strategic questions about portfolios and investment.”

“The HRCS is an approach which is gaining greater acceptance among research organisations that support health and health-related research. The HRCS is now in use in the UK (where over 20 research organisations have used it), Ireland, Sweden, Norway and outside of Europe in Singapore and Canada.”

The ESF-EMRC SPB report ‘Health Research Classification Systems – Current Approaches and Future Recommendations’ is available online at:[file]=38516&p[dl]=1&p[pid]=279&p[site]=European%20Science%20Foundation&p[t]=1323343036&hash=b3f9ea2f83cf77f7ce28192d2d0bc700&l=en  

[Source: ESF news: ]

Inventions for 3D measuring for clothing

Friday, December 9th, 2011

In the British Library’s Patent blog, Steve van Dulken quotes from a recent article in “The Sunday Times by Kevin Dowling titled ‘Virtual tailor sizes you up for buying clothes online.’ It’s about German company ‘UPcload’ and its invention to enable ‘trying on’ clothes on a 3D image of yourself, which could be used by online retailers.”

“The article says that customers browsing in a shop are ten times more likely to buy than if they use an online retailer. The aim is to improve those figures. If they are effective and don’t take too much time they would certainly remove a big barrier in the trade. Perhaps they would be free to the user, in which case it would add costs for the retailer.”

Steve hasn’t “traced a published patent application by the company, but there are a number of patent specifications for using 3D methods to remotely assess the sizes of people for clothing purposes.”

“An example is ‘System and method for displaying selected garments on a computer-simulated mannequin’ which is by no fewer than 12 inventors on behalf of Canadian company My Virtual Model Inc.”

“UPcload hopes to launch the product in the UK in the summer of 2012 following trials in Germany and a trial, just launched, in the USA with North Face.”

Visit the website at:

[Source: British Library Patent blog:

Disability Voices

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“To celebrate Disability History Month (22 November – 22 December) the British Library has launched a new content package on the Archival Sound Recordings website called ‘Disability Voices’.  The interviews available under the ‘Disability Voices’ package are from a number of the ‘Personal health, mental health and disability’ oral history collections at the British Library and it is hoped to add more collections to the package in the future.” 

“The content package includes interviews from the ‘Speaking for Ourselves: An Oral History of People with Cerebral Palsy’ collection (British Library Sound Archive catalogue no: C1134), the ‘Unheard Voices: Interviews With Deafened People’ collection (catalogue no: C1345), ‘An Oral History of British Athletics’ (catalogue no: C790), and Geoff Webb’s Memories of Polio (catalogue no: C1383)”

[Source: British Library sound recordings blog:

Sport and Society: the Summer Olympics and Paralympics through the lens of Social Science

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“The Social Science Collections and Research team at the British Library supports researchers by opening up and enabling access to their content and resources. Their aim is to inspire research, promote collaboration and knowledge exchange, and support capacity building among the current and next generation of researchers.”

“This site takes the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a platform upon which to introduce the wide range of materials held at the British Library which can support research into the social aspects of sport. It is aimed at a cross section of people, from those who are intrigued by the issues which underlie the hosting of the Games, to those who are actively involved in the latest research.”

To visit the site go to:

You can also read and/or subscribe to the Sport and Society blog which highlights relevant items from the British Library’s collections and raises awareness of other issues related to the Olympics and Paralympics.  Recent entries in the blog include: Strength, Sport and Ego – about the history of body building; Sport and Peace; the Olympic Flame; Winning. 

Go to: for more details.

AHRC project looks at how social media is changing the way users engage with cultural collections

Friday, December 9th, 2011

“How are new online media environments changing the way users engage with, and learn from, the collections of cultural institutions? This question underpins a new research project being undertaken as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Beyond Text research programme.”

“’Taking forward a participative 21st Century Inventory’ is a project which builds on the research being undertaken by Beyond Text Collaborative Doctoral Award student Michela Clari. Entitled ‘In the hands of the user’, Michela’s work looks at changing patterns of participation and learning through the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) digital collections.”

“The purposes of this project are to:

• test three new social media developments of RCAHMS existing services to improve how users can access, interact with and reuse those records
• consult with the public, professionals and academics to actively develop and implement two of these proposals
• enable testing and gain feedback on the beta developments to incorporate further improvements”

“The three proposals are:
1. Image tagging – to enable users to add their own keywords to Canmore images and to search for these tags, turning Canmore into a browsable image bank
2. Thesaurus – to enable users to nominate Canmore images to represent each site type definition
3. RCAHMS Data Service – to enable members of the public to search for data and export the results to develop new interactive resources, for example Apps”

Users can complete an online questionnaire to offer feedback on these proposals and offer advice on how they would like the online resources to develop.

Mock-ups of each of the three proposals can be viewed by downloading the Beyond Text proposals PDF.

Views on the proposals can be offered via the SurveyMonkey online questionnaire

The closing date for completing the questionnaire is Friday 16 December 2011.

 [Source AHRC News: ]