TB Research Perspectives: Project Management

History in the New Media Carl Glenn
G57.1023-001 Feb. 5, 2009
Prof. C. Hajo

Managing a Digital Project

Undertaking a project of a kind never personally attempted before, one is confronted by much greater complexity than imagined. To face this reality I am approaching the “TB Research Perspectives” project by breaking it down to smaller task units. I am using the template suggested by the National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage (NINCH) Guide to Good Practice.

A proposed outline for a project plan:

I. Work to be done
II. How work will be done
III. Project participants and staff
IV. Projections for: time, budget and materials

Before getting into the details of this outline it is worth noting that the “TB Research Perspectives” website starts out with a number of strategic advantages. Due to my position as the Web Content Manager for the Department of Medicine at the NYU School of Medicine I am well positioned to integrate at least some of the activities required for this project into my regular day-to-day responsibilities for the Department. The most important strategic advantages my position affords me for the purposes of this project are:

• Existence of ready-made Web infrastructure available at no cost to the project
• Access to this infrastructure and many of the necessary software tools
• Employment by and support from the Department of Medicine offers the potential advantage of being able to use the prestige and long history of Bellevue Hospital in the care of tuberculosis patients to gain acceptance for the project from potential collaborators
• Availability of experts in content area for authoring contextual and introductory metadata
• Potential availability of summer interns for handling mechanical aspects of project including re-keying historic articles to provide full search functionality and XML tagging

Here then is a high-level view of the project:

I. Work to be done
a. Obtain rights to reprint any of the historical research articles not in the public domain
b. Contact potential collaborators from other institutions for access to their historical research materials. These may include:
i. Archives of clinical records
ii. Research materials and experiences to contribute to the record
iii. Records in any form that captured the experience of patients
iv. Records of legislative or policy-related deliberations or actions that pertain to the treatment of tuberculosis patients, their isolation from other populations, etc.
c. Formulation of an Information Architecture for the website; this should be undertaken with a view to transparency of navigation, ease of maintenance and the ability for contributions to be made by remote project participants
d. Gathering of TB-related graphical materials including historical photographs, public health posters, etc.
e. Gathering of artwork, poetry, essays, stories recounting humanity’s experience with tuberculosis
f. Transcription of scientific research articles that comprise the heart of the website for the purpose of searchability and statistical querying
g. Compilation of bibliography on the subject
h. Links to related web-based resources
II. How work will be done (three distinct activities may be carried out concurrently or consecutively depending on availability of staff. These activities are the 1) copyright search, 2) webpage construction, and 3) inputting, tagging and cataloging:
a. Making documents searchable
i. All documents not in digital formats (the great majority) will be input by keyboard. This is because the quality of the original articles is often poor. If we were to attempt to use optical character recognition software it is likely we would introduce more errors than we would avoid and end up spending more time and effort than by simply re-inputting the documents “by hand.” This would be largely due to the age of the original articles (many of them set in movable type) and mixed quality of scanned images, combined with the relatively high proportion of technical terms, which would not be included in standard OCR interpreter dictionaries.
ii. After identifying the most likely uses that textual analysis could be put to in this set of historic research documents, a list of XML tags will be set by project advisors, expert in TB research
iii. All of the documents, once they have been converted from images to texts, will be scanned for the terms to be marked with the designated set of XML tags
b. Documents will be catalogued with identifiers for response to queries concerning content categories, date of research, authorship, sponsoring institutions, nationalities, etc.
c. Graphical materials will be catalogued using a defined set of criteria similar to that applied to research materials
d. Texts concerning clinical experience from perspectives of patients and clinicians will also be tagged and catalogued
e. Literary texts will also be tagged and catalogued
f. Website construction can go on simultaneous to the tagging and cataloging work being done with various project components
III. Identification and initiation of project participants and staff
a. Internal contributors of introductory and contextualizing texts
b. Internal project reviewers
c. Hands for keyboarding, material selection, proofreading and webpage construction and maintenance
IV. Projections for time, budget and materials: At this point it is difficult to project costs. Given the availability of infrastructure, software and hardware, the only immediately foreseeable costs would be for XML encoding software and possibly a workstation dedicated to ongoing work on this project.

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