As part of the CO.SHS project, you are developing a structure that will support Quebec and Canadian scholarly and cultural journals. What is the goal of this project, and what how will it benefit journals?

The project aims to help scholarly and cultural journals offer web content that accurately reflects their editorial identity and that is adapted to new publishing practices.

The tools we are developing with the open content management system (CMS) Drupal will allow journals to benefit from a versatile and adaptable publication and dissemination system for their online content, namely by ensuring data interoperability with the Érudit platform.

Can you talk to us about the NT2 Lab and its operations?

The NT2, a hybrid organization part of the Canada Research Chair in Digital Art and Literature (ALN), acts as both a research lab and a technological infrastructure.

Founded in 2004, the NT2 Lab aims to promote the study, creation and archiving of new forms of digital texts and works of art. In order to fulfill this mission, the NT2 has targeted three goals:

  1. To study the artistic and literary practices created and disseminated in the digital realm;
  2. To document the various manifestations of screen culture and its impact on the contemporary imagination; 
  3. To develop tools, methodologies and research strategies for the arts and letters based on contemporary technologies.

In what ways do you work with the journals in order to make sure that you meet their needs? Can you tell us about your experience with the journals that are part of the pilot project?

We work in a collaborative manner, making it possible for the journals to rely on NT2’s expertise. With the exception of technical specifications related to data interoperability with the Érudit platform, each aspect of the future online journal is discussed collegially.

This, for example, is how we work with Lettres québécoises (see their website and their Érudit page). First of all, we thoroughly record the journal’s needs, in terms of features, usability and design. With these requirements in hand, we produce several reference documents as a road map for the production of the online journal (specifications, information architecture and visual mock-ups).

We consult with the journal at each stage of production, both to specify their needs and to validate the deliverables.

What do you consider to be the most innovative part of your approach?

The innovative nature of this pilot project is the user-friendliness of the developed tools as well as their adaptability.

Our goal is to produce tools whose implementation and use will not require the intervention of specialized resources (web developers or programmers, for instance). Ultimately, a few clicks should suffice to create a website in compliance with the requirements of a scholarly or cultural online journal, both in terms of dissemination and data structure.

Furthermore, as the tools are developed in open source, it will be simple for a journal to modify the proposed system and adapt it to its needs, if necessary.

How will it be possible to export and import data to and from the Érudit platform?

The export of data will be based on a Views OAI-PMH module that will allow to disseminate the journal’s data, structured with the XML EruditArticle through OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative – Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, a protocol allowing to share metadata between online institutions to increase document accessibility). The structured data will be made available for harvesting by the Érudit platform through an API.

A user will simply need to map the data of the journal’s exportable content using this module’s user-friendly interface.

At this stage, it is difficult to envision the way the data will be imported from Érudit towards a journal’s website. Because of the specific needs of each journal and of the type of data available on Érudit, which differs from one publication to another, we feel that the development of a specific model would be too restrictive. We believe that it would be helpful to produce clear documentation describing the import process. However, we will take the import in charge for each of the journals participating in the pilot project.

What are your main challenges?

Currently, our main challenge is to adapt the information architecture within the Drupal CMS in order to meet the interoperability requirements of the Érudit platform. As soon as the data is structured in compliance with Érudit’s needs, its conversion, operated by the export module (HTML towards the XML EruditArticle) no longer constitutes a real challenge.

What are you currently working on, and where do you go from here?

We are currently finishing the development of an export module for journals’ data towards the Érudit platform. This module will soon be operational for journals using Drupal 7. This development has been created from the website of the Captures journal. This fall, we will begin production of the Lettres québécoises website, which will give us the opportunity to develop the data export module for Drupal 8.

To find out more