Nicky Ferguson - research consultant, new technologies, information, education, researchers' behaviour.
Nicky Ferguson works as a research consultant in the areas broadly defined by new technologies, information, education, research and researchers' behaviour. I am managing director of Clax Ltd.
Moving from ambition to reality
What I do
Typically I work alone or in a small team, often writing and coordinating. Work ranges from new research to consultation, working papers, reports and evaluations of technologies, standards, programmes or projects. Often the team includes colleagues from other countries, usually the work involves interviews, either face to face or, increasingly, by structured teleconferences. Sometimes the team itself is comprised of technology experts and the work is mainly surveying the state of the art and allowing the team to comment and develop a coherent argument. Other times, the task is to interview leading figures internationally and to synthesise and comment upon leading edge or bleeding edge developments, future trends, possibilities for directing future funding. Administering and analysing web-based questionnaires is another area of expertise, although with the proliferation of such tools we find that it is often only worth using them if you carefully identify and target the contacts.
Clients include: Jisc, ESRC, the universities of Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham, ALT, Becta, UK Open Access Implementation Group
Colleagues with whom I have recently worked include:
Studies and reports I have worked on (*=led by me) include:
The workshop brought together key figures to discuss a detailed report Knowledge Exchange produced summer 2017 called "Knowledge Exchange Approach to Open Scholarship", focusing on The Economy of Open Scholarship and Output and Evaluation from the Researcher's Perspective.
The report summarises and reflects on the key points as represented in discussion at the workshop. It also presents a menu of suggested actions, some of which Knowledge Exchange may take forward and some of which might be considered by partners, universities, funders and other research bodies, nationally and internationally.
*till 31st July 2017 - project managing the Jisc UK ORCID support team .
*2016-17 Jisc Research Data Shared Service metadata focus group use cases - conducting focus groups across a variety of UK institutions gathering the requirements and views of researchers, research supporters and technical implementers on data and metadata for the RDSS, liaising with John Kaye and Dom Fripp, producing a report and a dataset of use cases: blog and pointers
An exploration of the use of digital technology for research and higher education, to celebrate Knowledge Exchange's 10th anniversary, two reports summarising the Helsinki conference on Open Scholarship one report on the issues arising from the conference itself and the other a wish list for the next ten years of Knowledge Exchange.
In June 2015, Knowledge Exchange brought together representatives from its five partner countries for a workshop to share national perspective on ORCID and ISNI, including the challenges, solutions and lessons learned with regards to implementation of ORCID and ISNI on a national scale and to reflect on the progress of ORCID and ISNI adoption internationally.
*2014-2015 - Review of selected organisational IDs and development of use cases for the Jisc CASRAI-UK Organisational Identifiers Working Group. This project investigated and reviewed candidates for providing an authoritative, widely used unique identifier for organisations involved in research in the UK. Specifically, we:
2014 - Bringing the UK's open access research outputs together ... Barriers on the Berlin road to open access. Report by Neil Jacobs (Jisc) and Nicky Ferguson (Clax Ltd). Like many countries, the UK is moving towards open access
for the publications of its researchers, for a variety of reasons
and driven by factors rehearsed extensively elsewhere. It
seems natural, therefore, to be able to see (and look after)
this growing corpus of open UK publications in a single
place, perhaps one that is within the ambit of the academic
community that produces those publications. That idea was
the starting point for the Open Mirror feasibility project,
which ran from June 2013 to February 2014. This document
summarises where we are at the end of the project, based on
extensive consultation, horizon scanning, technical prototyping,
legal review and a dedicated stakeholder workshop that
was held in January 2014. In 2003, the Berlin Declaration on
Open Access (OA) proposed that
research outputs should be made
openly available for use and reuse
- with appropriate attribution - via
repositories using established
technical standards. In 2013 Jisc,
Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and
the Society for College, National
and University Libraries (SCONUL)
undertook a feasibility study into
the development of an "open
mirror", which would bring together
the UK's open access research
outputs and so make them easier
to use and reuse.
The work is described here, and it
has identified significant barriers
hampering the creation of the
open mirror. This report considers
why, ten years after the Berlin
Declaration, and with significant
amounts of the UK's research
output being (at least nominally)
open access, it is still so difficult to
build an open mirror. Finally, it
recommends work to make the
*2013 - Acting and Reacting ... How are universities responding to RCUK's 2013 Open Access policies? A briefing paper for UK Universities and Research Institutions. This briefing is based mainly on interpretation of data collected by the Research Information Network (RIN) from May to July 2013 and published as Implementing RCUK OA requirements. My briefing includes sections on guiding authors, allocating funds fairly, readying repositories for Green and Gold, monitoring and compliance and relationships with publishers.
*2013 - Use cases and views on the future use of ORCID in UK Higher Education. A report for the Jisc ORCID implementation group. Outlines the future benefits, areas of consensus, issues of concern and different implementation plans for the use of ORCID in UK HE.
2013 - Gold Open Access for Learned Societies? A suite of web-based resources, commissioned by the UK Open Access Implementation Group and created in a project managed by ALT. They are intended to help learned societies in the UK arrive at considered decisions about how to respond in a practical way to the policy drive for Open Access publishing (and in particular the pressure on research journals to shift gradually to 'Gold' Open Access) that comes from government and funding agency policies announced during 2012, and further debated and developed during early 2013.
*2012 - Sector Validation of Recommendations on use of Researcher Identifiers. Report written for JISC and published 9 January 2013. The study found widespread support for the implementation of researcher identifiers in the UK and strong but not unanimous support for ORCID as the most suitable candidate for achieving this. Any researcher identifier will require a compelling demonstration of use case and interface, ORCID will need to demonstrate to individual researchers its power and potential and the benefits it can bring to them.
*2012 - Researcher Identifiers. Reports written for JISC Task and Finish Group. One of the conclusions being that it is probably not useful to have specifically restricted "researcher" identifiers or to try and define or agree on a definition for "a researcher". The way to go seems to be unique person identifiers, obtainable by individuals, assigned and maintained by an agency separate from the agencies and institutions that make authorisation and accreditation decisions. Rather than agonise over the difficulties of exchanging the right information, take step one, which is to get the unique identifiers in place.
2011 - Open Access - Report on views of chemists and economists - a small project, with David Jennings and Seb Schmoller, led by Seb and based mainly on meeting and interviewing UK academics in chemistry and economics. The remit of the project was to follow up on a web-based survey undertaken earlier in the year by the Centre for Research Communications (CRC) at the University of Nottingham under the auspices of CRC's JISC-funded Research Communications Strategy Project.
*2010-2011 - Visualising China is a fascinating archive of historical photographs of China from a number of high profile sources as well as from people's grandparents attics and trunks - brought together with a social networking approach allowing contributions from users and showing links betwen them. Definitely the most attractive and probably the easiest project I have ever worked on to explain to a stranger; and the only one where non-technical listeners do not appear to stifle a yawn after a couple of sentences!
Article with photos ...
Research Revealed Evaluation Report. This JISC-funded project prototyped a system which pulled together research information from various sources inside and outside an institution and present them in illuminating ways. I came in near the end to evaluate the project. My colleague, Phil Cross, did the technical evaluation; I spoke to people inside and outside the project. Summary: interesting project, some great work and wow interfaces, still some knotty problems, mostly not technical.
2009-10 - Exchanging Research Information in the UK research and report for JISC - Feb 2010. JISC commissioned project consultants Nikki Rogers, Nicky Ferguson and Lesly Huxley to undertake an investigation into the requirements and possible options for adopting a UK-wide research data exchange standard such as CERIF.
*2008 - Feasibility study for JISC into approaches to improve the consistency with which repositories share material. See: http://infteam.jiscinvolve.org/2008/11/11/is-consistent-metadata-worthwhile/
2008 - Good Practice Guidelines for Repository Owners. For Becta (Andrew Kitchen). Led by Neil Smith. Surveys issues raised by current work on repositories for learning materials and makes recommendations for guidelines across eight areas: Standards and specifications, Sharing mechanisms, Marketing to users, User interface, E-safety, Accessibility, Quality, IPRs and copyright. The team surveyed 70 primary sources, including internal documents supplied by Becta, key published documents and web-based resources including several learning repositories.
*2007 - Sharing eLearning Content - a synthesis and commentary for JISC (Neil Jacobs) based on an examination of over 30 JISC-funded/identified projects and on over 70 papers and outputs from these projects. http://ie-repository.jisc.ac.uk/46/
2007 - Comparative Review of Federated Resource Discovery Systems - for Becta (Andrew Kitchen). Led by Neil Smith. Details standards and current practice in five areas: metadata; exposing content; search infrastructures; presentation of results; managing location and identity: resolution systems and discovery services. Describes an overall strategic context and an inclusive overall architecture for federated resource discovery, recommends best practice for different actors based on the research undertaken; and expands on the main roll-out issues.
*2006 - A strategic review of their core resource discovery services for JISC (Rachel Bruce) (Core discovery services in this context were: Archives Hub, COPAC, SUNCAT, and Zetoc). We produced two reports, the first an evaluation across the four services and the second an advisory report making 56 general and specific recommendations, both for the services and also for the key national players such as JISC, The British Library, the RIN etc.
*2006 - A review of the information environment for the social sciences for the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
This report was commissioned by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council, UK) in response to widespread concerns and uncertainties about the rate of change in the environment within which social and economic researchers find and access information crucial to their work. It was written with Seb Schmoller, with guidance from an ESRC Advisory Group chaired by Lynne Brindley.
2006 - JISC (Balviar Notay) commissioned Neil Smith, Seb Schmoller and me to design and facilitate an invitation workshop to consider how to take forward relevant recommendations from our original study - *Personalisation in presentation services, http://www.therightplace.net/jp/quotes.html
*2005 - Software Quality Evaluator - http://www.therightplace.net/sqe/ This study, commissioned by JISC (Richard McKenna), evaluated the software produced by the 22 Distributed eLearning Tools projects and the effect of the programme's approach and management on the production of the software. The activities conducted during this study included an online questionnaire, face to face interviews with every project conducted at their lead institution, a selective check of the code created by each project, testing the software products and evaluating the accessibility and usability of the products where appropriate.
Previous career history
Nicky Ferguson worked from 1993-2003 at the Institute for Learning and Research Technology at the University of Bristol. He joined the University to set up the pilot information service SOSIG. See also: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue47/hiom. This spawned a large number of national and international collaborations and by the time he left in 2003, to work as a consultant, he had directed the Institute for 18 months as well as serving as Research Director and in many other capacities. The staff at the institute had increased from 7 to 70 in that period, with an annual turnover of over £2.5 million.
Relevant previous projects and positions
Nicky also directed the EC Fourth Framework Telematics for Research funded project known as DESIRE. DESIRE developed training and dissemination mechanisms to encourage the wide participation of libraries and librarians in the creation and maintenance of high quality Internet-accessible teaching and learning resources. The first phase of DESIRE was a multi-million Euro project involving 23 partners across Europe in nine work packages. DESIRE2 was a smaller more focused project, building on the successes of DESIRE1 and delivering, amongst other things the Information Gateways Handbook - a guide to the technical and information issues involved in high quality portal creation: http://www.desire.org/handbook
The DESIRE project involved producing and editing a substantial on-line workbook written by over a dozen different authors from several countries. Leading this project required the ability to push towards consensus or compromise in the most demanding situations.