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September 1996 Progress Report

Project Planning

The Annual Report to eLib was submitted to JISC in August, and summarises project activities during the first 8 months, reflects on what we have learned so far, and sets targets for the coming year.

The Project Plan has been finalised and circulated. This is a framework document which focuses on project objectives, milestones, deliverables, project organisation, and roles/responsibilities of the various project participants. It is supported by several more specialised plans which describe the actual project activities in greater detail:

Application and Functionality

In July Manchester Computing developed a prototype application, and the publishers were asked for their feedback. In a parallel exercise, more thought was given to the features we would like present in the application in the short and long term. A list of value added features that we think will be important to readers and authors was prepared as part of the Evaluation Plan, and Manchester Computing assessed the development requirements to implement these features.

A proposal was prepared outlining functionality that should be present on “Day 1” when the CCS cluster goes live, and indicating the planned rollout of features thereafter. Considerations were priority of each feature, technical difficulty of implementation, timescale, and software/tools available for the job. Based on this spec, the prototype has been developed into a working application ready for beta testing, complete with graphic icons, help screens, and user documentation.

The CCS cluster is scheduled for launch in November.

Evaluation Research

As noted above, the Evaluation Plan is complete, and HUSAT are implementing the baseline studies. A rollout plan has been agreed where 3 test sites will participate in the formal evaluation research for each cluster (but all sites can access all clusters).

Rollout Communication & Cultural Studies Molecular Genetics & Proteins Political Science
Timing Nov 1996 Feb 1997 Spring 1997
Libraries Birmingham
Birmingham or Warwick

Site visits have been made to the 3 sites participating in the CCS research to plan the baseline studies and test technical implementation. Baseline studies will involve identifying readers to participate in the research, questionnaires to profile their use of print journals, and focus groups to explore their expectations of electronic journals and multimedia. Similarly, baseline studies are planned for libraries, authors, and publishers.


Tony Fowler of Blackwell Publishers is the Production Coordinator for SuperJournal, and is working 2 days/week to set up production schedules for the various clusters and liaise with the publishers about sending their files to Manchester Computing. By the end of the year when the schedules are set up and file submission is working smoothly, his time commitment will reduce to 1 day/week. Tony is developing a good rapport with the various Technical Representatives and doing an excellent job setting things up.


A meeting was held with the library representatives on 26-9-96 to view the SuperJournal demo, discuss implementation, and plan future meetings/responsibilities. They agreed on library representatives to the SuperJournal Committees:

Committee Library Representative Deputy
Planning Committee Caroline Lloyd, LSE Richard Parker, Warwick
Steering Committee Peter Leggate, Oxford Ruth Dale, DMU

They plan to meet bimonthly to share experience, taking turns to host the meetings, and seeing how SuperJournal is implemented at each site. Each of the library representatives has taken a very professional approach to the project, is keen to learn from it, and I'm sure equally we shall learn a great deal from them.


Each of the libraries has signed a Letter of Commitment to participate in the project for the full 3 years. They will also sign a licence agreement indicating what their users can/not do with the application. All of the university sites have standard terms and conditions that staff and students must abide by, including the requirement to respect copyright law and copyrighted materials, or their passwords and network access will be terminated. The licence agreement will supplement these usual terms and conditions, and is consistent with CHEST type agreements.

The SuperJournal Limited company was formed in August, and the Membership Agreement has been finalised and circulated. Publishers who qualify as Founder Members need only sign the membership application form. SuperJournal Ltd signed the Memorandum of Understanding with Manchester Computing and University of Loughborough in September. Other formalities, like setting up bank accounts, have been completed. Copies of all legal documents have been circulated.