I posted a few months ago about the Crime in the Community project for Old Bailey Online, and we brought the work to completion last week. This has been a relatively small but really satisfying project (I would have written about it earlier, but was kept busy by the Connected Histories launch on Thursday).
The project started last October with funding from the JISC Impact and Embedding of Digitised Resources Programme. We carried out a rapid(ish) user impact analysis, which was an entirely new but rewarding experience (our report can be downloaded from here). With the aid of the rather awesome Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources, this included analysis of site traffic and incoming links, bibliometrics, an online questionnaire, interviews and focus groups.
Previously we had only a rough sense of the ways the site was being used, even in terms of visitor traffic. We learned a lot in the process and it helped us to decide on the new features and functionality to add to the site. So, here are the important bits:
- User workspaces: bookmark trials etc, save search queries, organise them in folders
- Facility to export the information saved in the workspace
- User registration for London Lives and Old Bailey Online is integrated so that only one account is needed for both sites
- Registered users will also be able to report errors through a corrections facility integrated into the site
Extracting information from the site into other formats
- Citation generator for trials etc and background pages
- ‘Print page’ function (with citation) for trials etc to enable you to print a page or simply to copy and paste the text without the usual formatting and images
- Facility to export raw data from statistics search results
- Facility to refine searches
- Keyword searches have a new set of options (and / or / phrase / ‘advanced’) to facilitate sophisticated searches while (hopefully) keeping it simple for most basic needs
- Short, basic tutorials aimed primarily at novice/infrequent site users: Getting Started and Search Help (video walkthroughs)
- More in-depth tutorials for research users: Using the Workspace, Doing Statistics, Organising Research With Reference Management Tools (focusing on Zotero)
- For teaching and studying: Using the Proceedings in University Teaching, How to Read an Eighteenth-Century Trial, and How are the Proceedings Different when read Online?
There has been one significant casualty of the project: after reviewing the user stats and responses in the survey and interviews, we decided to pull the Old Bailey Wiki. This meant that we would need to find another way to maintain the site bibliography. I used Zotero intensively while I was compiling a list of publications citing Old Bailey Online (mostly from Google Scholar and Google Books) for the impact analysis, and Zotero’s export facilities and collaborative tools seemed an almost obvious solution to the problem.
So, the ‘official’ Bibliography is now maintained in Zotero and you can view it here at the site. And, if you have a Zotero account, you can contribute items for updates to the Public Group Library. We would welcome your help to keep it updated!
And: good things still to come…
There were some popular requests among surveyed users for a number of features that weren’t feasible within the constraints of a short project. But quite a few of these should be satisfied by separate projects within the next few months:
First, an Old Bailey API is in development (as part of the Data Mining with Criminal Intent project) and will be launched in the next few months. This will facilitate more sophisticated searching options and facilites for extracting and downloading data for external analysis.
Second, we’ve started work on a new project, Locating London’s Past, which will improve the mapping features of the site (among quite a few other things!).