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[EP-tech] Division/Subject/Department Info

This is an "open problem", in that I don't know a perfect solution.

Records can be associated with subparts of an organisation either directly or through their creators. Both have issues. There's some real devil in the details, eg. if someone changes department at some point in their career.

Reorganisations happen the easy ones are when groups move but the membership stays the same, or when they merge. Far harder to handle is when they split.

At Southampton we now have EPrints as a front end  but PURE is the "source of truth". Our EPrints data has been through 2 major reorganisations of the university and HR handle this by creating an entirely new structure and moving everyone's records into that. So there's 3 versions of some schools. The current one and two old versions. This is of course a nightmare if you want to just search or list papers in a school as for practical purposes it's the same school

I solve this with jiggerypokery.

Specifically I import the structure of the university  HR uses then EPrints shoogles it around using some rules.

First of all, we move the schools out of the faculty groupings and into the top level as nobody externally cares about faculties.

We rename a few things for clarity as their  HR names only make sense in the context of the faculty they are in.

Then a big mapping list makes all the pre-reorg versions have a second parent subject node which is the current version of that school or group. That makes EPrints consider all the items under it as part of it for search purposes. We also rename all the pre-reorg titles to say that.

It's not perfect by any means but the best we've come up with. The real issue is that data from one part of an organisation (in this case, HR) matters to many other systems but rarely are those stakeholders involved in decisions about how it changes and we just have to roll with it.

You can see the munged structure here: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/view/divisions/

On 23/01/2020 10:58, James Kerwin via Eprints-tech wrote:
Hi All,

For those who use EPrints and Elements, may I ask how you handle a change in university structure with respect to Divisions/Departments?

For example, say we currently have:

Faculty of Humanities -> School of Art -> Department of Philosophy

But we change to:

Faculty of Humanities -> School of Thinking about Things - > Department of Philosophy

Would you seek to preserve the old structure on items that were deposited during that time? Or would you want them to update to the new structure? Likewise if a member of staff moves from one department to another e.g. Department of Biochemistry to the Department of Chemistry. I'm aware Divisional info in Elements is attached to the user rather than the record.

My assumption is that they WOULD change in EPrints once the Subjects/Divisional table is changed and Elements is prompted to update the record.

The reason I ask is that we don't currently use Divisional Information and the university structure is changing. I'm not sure whether it's best to preserve the old structure on old items or let them all change as necessary.


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Christopher Gutteridge <totl at soton.ac.uk><mailto:totl at soton.ac.uk>
You should read our team blog at http://blog.soton.ac.uk/webteam/
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