Whats in KB+ Release 2.1

I have been looking forward to release 2.1 of KB+ as it includes improvements to the way we upload data and greater flexibility in terms of editing the information once it is in the system.

Uploading packages (for Datamangers only)

The new upload feature provides greater efficiency in automating some basic data formatting  greater flexibility in terms of adding different types of data including ebooks and greater feedback on any issues found with the data allowing us to troubleshoot more effectively.

Editing

There are now more opportunities to edit information which is useful especially for those packages where titles are continually added, for changes to start dates etc. Editable fields now appear as underlined with a dotted line and simply click to edit. Editable fields with no data appear with the label ‘Empty’ simply click on the work ‘Empty’ to edit, you will be prompted to save save/cancel changes by clicking on the tick or cross icon. You can edit “Date fields” by choosing a date from a calendar, or by typing a date directly in YYYY-MM-DD format. Clicking the ‘Month and Year’ twice on the calendar also allows you to change years easily.

KB+ screenshot showing editing

Lists of Subscriptions can be filtered by date.

The current default now displays subscription that are ‘valid’ today. If you want to see Subscriptions valid in the past or future simply type in a date using the format YYYY/MM/DD. This date filter can also be combined with the existing keyword search option. I think this improves the usability of the system in ensuring you can see the most relevant data.

KB+ screenshot of date filter

Search on SUNCAT

You can check other journal details such as change of titles etc from a link to the SUNCAT records for that title.

KB+ Screen shot showing Suncat link

Documentation will be updated to reflect these changes shortly and as always we welcome you feedback on these new changes.

Managing KB+ Software Development

I’m not responsible for managing the development of software and code for KB+ (apart from in the sense that I have overall responsibility for the project), so I am going to keep my comments short to minimise the chances of getting things wrong.

Over the weekend I was interested by John Naughton’s column in the Observer on Why big IT projects always go wrong.

The column discussed the work of Fred Brooks who worked at IBM in the 1960s. Brooks wrote a series of essays on managing software projects, called The Mythical Man-Month, one of the main lessons he learned in his time at IBM was that the more programmers he added to a project the more likely it was to fall behind.
Now, I’m not suggesting that KB+ is on the same scale as IBM’s developments in the 60s, but something we have strongly resisted the urge to do is throw more programmers at the software development side of things.

To do so would not only have increased the management burden on the project as a whole, but it was judged, it would make it more likely we would spend an ever greater amount of time either trying to ensure that different code from different programmers was compatible, or correcting bugs in different code from different sources.

Sometimes it may have felt as though development has not been as swift as it might be, but for myself I am confident that the approach we have taken has meant we have had to spend much less time correcting code than would have been the case if we had decided to throw programmers at the project from the outset.

Building a better Knowledge Base

I have been in my new role as data manager for a few months and one of my main tasks is adding new collections of titles into KB+. Our first priority has been Nesli2 collections. In some cases publishers kindly supply KBART files of their collection, others direct us to a title list on their website or we garner the information directly from their web pages . Once we receive the files we need to reformat them in order to upload into KB+.

Before uploading we often attempt to check the data quality. This can include comparing against a title list acquired from a different source, comparing against last years list (using the comparison basket feature in KB+), checking for known title cessations or transfers. We are currently using tools such as SunCat to help with the data verification but are looking to other services and collaboration with international services to ensure consistency and accuracy. Depending on the outcome of these checks we are then faced with how best to resolve any found issues, such as title misspellings, incorrectly assigned DOIs, incorrect ISSNs before this data is loaded into KB+.

I have been mainly using Excel to manage and manipulate the data prior to loading into KB+ and therefore tools such as the ‘conditional formatting’ to find duplicate ISSNs have proven to be useful. I am planning investigating tools such as Google Refine to help manage this data more effectively, especially with regards to breaking down large title lists into appropriate collections and automate some standard formatting.

I am also looking forward to release 3.1 of KB+ which is looking to provide more integrated communication channels.

In working collaboratively and sharing data errors I think we can help build a good quality source of data.

Maximising the Knowledge Base at UKSG 2013 Conference

Liam recently attended the annual UKSG conference and delivered a presentation on ‘Maximising the Knowledge Base’ which you can watch below.

The conference was packed with interesting and inspirational presentations and even though I wasn’t able to attend I was very pleased to be able to