Business Requirements Extracts


Technical Objectives

·         To create an RDF infrastructure that harmonises data contributed by different cultural heritage and arts organisations. ResearchSpace will initially bring data from different sources into one central store as a resource for online collaborative research. A future objective, dependent upon the development of semantic technology and its adoption, would be to use ResearchSpace tools over decentralised RDF stores.

·         To provide collaboration environments and tools to enable effective online scholarly communication with direct access to supporting data. The main issue with current online scholarly collaboration is that the data is not, ‘on hand’. The ability to spontaneously draw upon source materials is a major enhancement to this type of environment.

·         To provide research tools that harness the benefits of semantic data for the discovery of new information and knowledge and support a range of research methods and techniques for analysing data, information and multimedia resources. With the introduction of semantic frameworks the connection between data and artefacts from different sources can be established allowing scholars to draw upon them without laborious manual investigation.

·         To allow publication of data and documentation in web applications, and as linked data, available to the scholarly community outside the ResearchSpace environment.     

·         To be accessible to any world cultural heritage organisation and others, large or small and regardless of internal resources.

Business Rules

The main business rules derived from initial discussions with the project team are as follows;

Business Rule 1 - Data uploaded to ResearchSpace will be open to all projects. It is considered shared data. For example, if the British Museum uploads its collection data to ResearchSpace, any project registered to use ResearchSpace can use it as a resource. This immediately reduces the complexity of the security model and promotes the sharing of collection data. Ad hoc data input will be considered project data and would be added to the project data store. Projects would be expected to publish this data to the central store as soon as practicable and reasonable.  

Business Rule 2 - The ResearchSpace tools should not be dependent on proprietary APIs. It should be possible to take any tool developed for use with open standard RDF/CRM data and incorporate that tool into ResearchSpace without substantial redevelopment. Similarly, tools developed specifically for ResearchSpace should be useable with little or no modification outside the ResearchSpace environment. This business rule ensures the open nature of ResearchSpace and keeps the RDF research tool model simple and accessible.

Business Rule 3 - Images will require some security so that specified images can be hidden from some users but be available to others. This reflects the practical reality that some images are more likely to be subject to conditions and restrictions. It is anticipated that standard Digital Asset Management tools can be used to control image access without offending other ResearchSpace business rules. Again, ResearchSpace will encourage sharing of digital media whenever possible.

Business Rule 4 - When a project creates new versions of existing collection data or creates annotations about that data during the course of that project, the data will only be available to the project members. Information created within the collaboration areas (discussions, forums etc) will also be private to the project members unless otherwise configured. However, when the project has concluded the research and published its findings, the additional RDF data produced should also become available to other projects.

Business Rule 5 - In order to obtain the right level of data harmonisation and therefore allow effective exploration of data supplied from different sources, the ontology standard for the shared repository will be the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model (CRM).

Business Rule 6 Organisations should be able to use the environment as a collaboration environment. General collaboration and document sharing should be supported independently of ResearchSpace data services. 

ResearchSpace Research Tools


Semantic Search Tool – The semantic search tool will provide the main mechanism for finding and accessing ResearchSpace data and assets. It is envisaged that this tool will provide a number of different mechanisms for searching the ResearchSpace repository including the ability to assert rules used for inference and display relationships to other data based on initial results.

Data Input Tool – This will allow standard data creation, modification and deletion based on data business rules and taxonomies.

Data Annotation – The ability to add additional information using a controlled annotation ontology or simple free text.

Image Annotation – The ability for researchers to annotate an image either against the whole asset or against a particular point or region of the image. The data would be stored as RDF and be searchable through the semantic search tool. Annotations should be both controlled using the CRM (Conceptual reference Model) framework but also allow the option for uncontrolled comment. Note: &  &

Image Zoom (and Annotation) – Many ResearchSpace users will want to upload large high resolution images and allows colleagues the opportunity to zoom in revealing detail. The ability to annotate at different levels of zoom would also be useful. In the event the annotations should be available to the user and take him or her to the exact point where the annotation was made.

Note on Annotation – The ResearchSpace annotation requirement for both data and digital assets is a strong one. The stage 2 specification work will look carefully at existing work in this area and particularly the Open Annotation Collaboration project ( which is developing an approach to RDF annotation. The specification will be used for the working prototype. 

Image Compare – The ability to compare different images in order to uncover areas of interest for annotation. This may involve operations such as;  

•    Scaling two different images so that they fit one over another.
•    The ability to compare images through transparency or pixel difference.
•    It would also be assumed that basic image editing features would also be available.

Relationship / Link Editor (internal and external) – The ability, through controlled terms, to link object records and group these relationships so that a defined story or pathway can be recorded for others to follow. 

Version Comparison (Track Changes) – It should be possible to see all the different versions of a data field and see who created it. 

Geographical Mapping – It should be possible to map data objects according to different types of recorded location, whether that is a production place, a place of birth, the origin of a material and so on. The user should be able to define the scope and scale of the map and the data elements that should be plotted. 

Timeline Mapping – The ability to map objects against a graphical timeline. It should be possible to have different modes for recording frequency as well as individual object mapping. For example, it should be possible for a researcher to plot a large number of objects on a timeline to show graphically information such as the number of a particular objects found as a function of time. 

The ResearchSpace Requirements Catalogue also implies a number of other tools for collaboration, such as video conferencing and online educational tools. In addition, ResearchSpace should support the inclusion of other systems for activities such as real time collaborative editing, video conferencing and other communication tools.