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PerX (Pilot Enginering Repository Xsearch) - Roddy MacLeod

.: Roddy MacLeod, Senior Faculty Librarian, Heriot-Watt University Library, Edinburgh, offers the following details about the new digital repository program, PerX:

PerX (Pilot Enginering Repository Xsearch)

PerX is a new project, funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) via the Digital Repositories Programme (DRP). In a nutshell, PerX will develop a pilot service to provide subject resource discovery across a series of repositories of interest to the engineering learning and research communities. This pilot will be used as a test-bed to explore the practical issues that would be encountered when considering the possibility of full scale subject resource discovery services.

PerX will address various aspects relating to two of the main objectives of the DRP, namely the scoping of a common national repository service infrastructure, and the cultural and practical issues affecting the implementation and usage of digital repositories. It will do so with particular emphasis on issues concerning subject-based access to digital repositories. The information retrieval needs of academics are very often subject specific, yet, with one or two notable exceptions, those subject-based needs are not currently well catered for by the digital repository landscape. The PerX Project will therefore help to evaluate the usefulness of the subject-based approach to resource discovery.

PerX will be concerned specifically with the subject area of engineering information. The information landscape in engineering is complex, and includes not only resource types such as learning materials and scholarly articles, which are common to all sectors, but also standards and specifications, technical data, technical reports, trade news and patents. There are numerous publishers and national bodies in engineering, many of which produce material of value to the academic community. Further complicating the landscape are the professional societies which play an important role in STM publishing. PerX will therefore take a broad-based view of what constitutes a repository, reflecting the real situation of resource discovery, and will investigate issues surrounding subject-based access to various digital repository materials, in addition to institutional repositories.

Digital repository work within engineering is not well supported compared with other disciplines, and uptake and usage of digital repositories by the engineering community has been disappointingly slow. The findings of the Project will help to understand why this is the case, and advocacy materials produced by the Project will help to improve the situation.

PerX will use some of the outputs of the JISC-based Subject Portal Project (SPP) http://www.portal.ac.uk/spp/ will build upon them, test them, examine maintenance issues, examine end-user attitudes, and produce outputs which will help to gauge the actual need for subject-based access to the digital repository landscape. The Project will also investigate various sustainability models for possible future fully fledged subject-based services.

The PerX lead partner is the Institute for Computer Based Learning, School of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, Heriot Watt University, UK, EH14 4AS. Other partners include: Cranfield University, Institution of Civil Engineers/Thomas Telford Limited, Adiuri Systems Ltd, The Geotechnical, Rock and Water Resources Library (GROW) in Arizona, and the Regional Support Centre East Midlands.

Contact details: Roddy MacLeod, Senior Faculty Librarian, Heriot-Watt University Library, Edinburgh EH14 4AS
e-mail: R.A.MacLeod AT hw.ac.uk; phone: +44 (0)131 451 3576

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