Assessing e-resource value in Higher Education
1 June 2011
Cardiff University has developed the first generic system in the UK designed to enable education institutions to assess the popularity and use of the e-resources viewed via access management software.
The JISC-funded RAPTOR project, led by Cardiff's Information Services Directorate, enables institutions to view usage statistics gathered from the variety of different access management systems in use across the education sector, with a particular focus on federated access systems. Federated access management allows online resources to request access authorisation from the 'home' institution of the visitor, giving users easy access to online resources with a single sign-on.
The RAPTOR system automatically analyses the log files created by an institution's access management systems, and presents detailed information about the resources users have accessed in easily understandable graphical forms.
The system has been designed to be easy to install and configure, in order to appeal to institutions with limited technical expertise or resource. It should also be easy to use for the non-technical staff who may require this information.
Martyn Harrow, Director of Information Services, said: "The strength of the RAPTOR tool at a time when education budgets are being squeezed is in providing the evidence needed for academic schools to assess the e-resources subscriptions that are in place. Universities using this system will be able to prove the impact of the e-resources they provide, and ensure that they continue to deliver the best possible value for money for individual academic schools and entire institutions."
Chris Brown, JISC e-Research Programme Manager, continued: "The JISC funded RAPTOR project has produced a tool that has the potential to become extremely important both for institutions and the UK federation. In these times of not just cost savings but looking at improving efficiencies, the RAPTOR tool provides valuable statistics on resource usage. It can analyse a variety of log files and present important information, not only promptly, but most importantly, in an easy to use way. The team at Cardiff have used their wealth of experience in this area and incorporated user feedback to build a tool that is easy to install and use but also extremely powerful."
"RAPTOR's ease of use has been one of the central considerations in developing the system," added Dr Rhys Smith, Information Services' Engineering Consultant: Identity and Access Management. "This development will give non-technical staff the flexibility to independently produce these statistics whenever they are needed. Users can access the statistics in as much detail as they require (for example, you can view usage by individual department) and the system then presents the figures in an easily understandable way, which can in turn be exported into presentations or reports."
A further feature of RAPTOR includes providing UK-wide statistics for the JISC Monitoring Unit on the take-up of federated access management across the UK. RAPTOR could also be applied in the US, Europe, and beyond, with potential partnership opportunities between Cardiff and other institutions already being identified to further develop the system.
RAPTOR is now available to the Higher Education community. The project has secured further JISC funding of £20k to develop the project further in consultation with external partners and the user community to evaluate and improve the software.