CHALICE: Team Formation and Community Engagement

Institutional and Collective Benefits describes who, at an institutional level, is engaged with the CHALICE project. We have three work packages split across four institutions – the Centre for Data Digitisation and Analysis at Queens University Belfast; the Language Technology Group at the School of Informatics, and the EDINA National Datacentre, both at the University of Edinburgh; and the Centre for e-Research at Kings College, London.

The Chalice team page contains more detailed biographical data about the researchers, developers, technicians and project managers involved in putting the project together.

The community engagement aspect of CHALICE will focus on gathering requirements from the academic community on how a linked data gazetteer would be most useful in to historical research projects concerned with different time periods. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted with relevant projects, and the researchers involved will be invited to critically review existing gazetteer services, such as geonames, with a view to identifying how they would could get the most out of such a service. This will apply the same principles, based loosely on the  methodology employed by the TEXTvre project. The project will also seek to engage with providers of services and resources. CHALICE will be able to enhance such resources, but also link them together: in particular the project will collaborate with services funded by JISC to gather evidence as to how these services could make use of the gazetteer .  A rapid analysis of the information gathered will be prepared, and a report published within six months of the project’s start date.

When a first iteration of the system is available, we will revisit these projects, and  develop brief case studies that illustrate practical instances of how the resource can be used.

The evidence base thus produced will substantially inform design of the user interface and the scoping and implementation of its functionalities.

Gathering this information will be the responsibility of project staff at CeRch.

We would love to be more specific about exactly which archive projects will yield to CHALICE at this point; but a lot will depend both on the spatial focus of the gazetteer, and the investigation and outreach during the course of the project. So we have a half dozen candidates in mind right now, but the detailed conversations and investigations will have to wait some months… see the next post on the project plan describing when and how things will happen.

CHALICE: The Plan of Work


GANTT-like chart showing the interconnection between different work packages and participants in CHALICE – not a very high-quality scan, sorry. When there are shifts and revisions in the workplan, Jo will rub out the pencil markings and scan the chart in again, but clearer this time.

As far as software development goes we aspire to do a Scrum though given the resources available it will be more of a Scrum-but. Depending how many people we can get to Scrum, we may have to compress the development schedule in the centre – spike one week, deliver the next pretty much – then have an extended maintenance and integration period with just one engineer involved.

The preparation of structured versions of digitised text with markup of extracted entities will be more of a long slog, but perhaps I can ask CDDA and LTG to write something about their methodologies.

The use case gathering and user engagement parts of the project will develop on the form already used in the TextVRE project.

CHALICE: Open Licensing


We commit to making source code produced as part of CHALICE available under a free software license – specifically, the GNU Affero General Public License Version 3. This is the license that was suggested to the Unlock service during consultation with OSS Watch, the open source advisory service for UK research.

GPL is a ShareAlike kind of license, implying that if someone adapts and extends the CHALICE code for use in a project or service, they should make their enhancements available to others. The Affero flavour of GPLv3 invokes the ShareAlike clause if the software is used over a network.


We plan to use the Open Database License from Open Data Commons to publish the data structures extracted from EPNS – and other sources where we have the freedom to do this. ODbL is a ShareAlike license for data – the OpenStreetmap project is moving to use this license, which is especially relevant to geographic factual data.

As far as we know this will be the first time ODbL has been used for a research project of this kind – if there are other examples, would love to hear about them. We’ll seek advice from JISC Legal and from the Edinburgh Research and Innovation office legal service, as to the applicability of ODbL to research data, just to be sure.

CHALICE: Risk Analysis and Success Plan

This post should attempt to forecast both the risks or hurdles that might arise as the project progresses as well as how the project will manage sucess if its outputs become extremely popular?

Risk Analysis







(P x S)

Action to Prevent/Manage Risk





Secure by contract lock-in. Ensuring knowledge is continually disseminated amongst those involved. Rapid project life-cycle reduces likelihood of ill effects due to staff departure
Community buy-in




Engagement with community via existing digital humanities network and geospatial semantic web communities; consultation with researchers on quality of work; dissemination through geographic information retrieval community workshops.




Testing quality of extracted names against historic census data applied by UKDA. Evaluating other techniques to find and resolve names.




Continue consultation with JISC OSSWatch. Building on experiences and outputs from the GeoDigRef project and maintenance taken into account as support work on the Unlock service.

CHALICE: Institutional and Collective Benefits

DRAFT – needs CeRch+CDDA detail plus specific end user engagements though we can go on on the latter topic in later posts.

At this point we should talk a bit more about who is involved in CHALICE and what we’re hoping to gain from it.

The project is led by the EDINA National Datacentre at the University of Edinburgh. EDINA is almost entirely supported by JISC, and runs the flagship Digimap service which provides UK HE/FE access to national mapping data for the UK.

EDINA also maintains the Unlock service, which provides search across different placename gazetteers, and extraction of placenames from text using different gazetteers to “ground” references to place at definite locations. Unlock started life as the GeoCrossWalk project, and it was our involvement in the “Embedding GeoCrossWalk” project that sparked this interest in using text mining techniques to generate placename authority files from historic texts.

The Language Technology Group at the School of Informatics in Edinburgh were partners in this, and have moved on with us to CHALICE. They created the Edinburgh Geoparser that sits behind the Unlock Text web service. Their text mining magic extends much deeper than we’ve really made use of yet, as far as being able to extract events and relations from text, as well as references to people and concepts.

CHALICE should be a fun challenge in an as yet under-explored research area of historic text mining – tuning grammar rules to do markup that can then be used to train machine learning recognisers, and comparing the results. Through their work with CDDA we hope to gain insight into the best balance between manual annotation and manually-corrected automatic annotation, in terms of cost of work, cost savings for others’ future work, and benefits of the different approaches to named entity recognition.