WebTracks is a open source project funded by the JISC Initiative for Managing Research Data Programme.  Our main objective is to develop a peer-to-peer protocol to enable WEB-scale link TRACKing for research data and publicationS.  

Modern research requires the coordination of a large number of different digital objects and  communication mechanisms.   A researcher will typically generate raw data through observation or experiment, create analysis data using software, discuss the results using private email or public forums, make presentations, and publish a formal description of the results in journals.  Each stage of this process typically involves support systems, including repositories, websites, data archives, each with independent management.  To maximise the value of the scientifc work, the connections between these stages needs to be exposed, so that the evidential basis of the conclusions presented in publications can be assessed, and the usage of the digital objects can be traced. 

Established techniques such as OAI-PMH and the emerging Linked Web of Data provide tools to publish data for linking.  However, identifying and linking the appropriate objects, in an open and easily accessible manner, has not yet been addressed.   Linked data is a very topical subject, however, it focuses on the manner in which data should be exposed for linking and little has been done in this context to actually make these connections.  Webtracks will develop an approach and mechanism to address the construction and propagation of a web of linked data in the context of research and academic endeavour.   The semantically annotated links between data resources will yield a graph of citation and provenance to enable web-scaled data management by:

  • tracking the components of research
  • aggregation by the self-assembly of composite objects
  • provenance by tracking the evolution of research objects
  • discovery by exposing links between related objects.