The future of CAIN
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OUTCOME OF THE CAIN CONSULTATION[ 19 June 2019 - PDF version]
Ulster University decision on the consultation
Following the consultation (see earlier note below) about the future of CAIN, Ulster University has decided to allow a nine month period (1 August 2019 to 30 April 2020) for staff to explore the opportunities that have been identified during the consultation process. The aim during that period is to secure funding for two to three years that would permit work to be done on the further development of the CAIN archive and the supporting technology.
If it is not possible to confirm funding offers then a three-month transition programme will be undertaken (1 May 2020 to 31 July 2020) during which CAIN will move to an unstaffed static, archive.
Responses to the consultation
The Ulster University consultation on the future of CAIN (Conflict Archive on the INternet) was held between 7 February and 2 May 2019. There were 103 individual responses and a 'joint letter' to Ulster University was signed by 439 academics, many of whom added comments. There were 15 media items which mentioned the consultation. At the end of the consultation the responses were compiled and a summary report attached. This was forwarded to the Senior Leadership Team of the university on 16th May.
The responses were overwhelmingly positive about the value and trustworthiness of the CAIN archive. Many people outlined how they use and depend on the resources. The majority of respondents urged the university to maintain CAIN as a live archive with dedicated staff to add new materials, carry out updates, and answer queries. All the staff within the university who have seen the responses were impressed by the global reach of CAIN and the respect with which it is held by many academics and others.
The university and CAIN would like to thank all those who took the time to respond in such a positive way to the consultation. We hope that it will prove possible to draw advice or assistance from respondents in finding sustainable funding that will enrich the resources and secure the archive for future generations.
Following the close of the consultation a number of follow-up meetings and discussions were held. A range of options were outlined. CAIN is helping to organise a workshop in July which will focus on lessons that can be learned from archivists at institutions in the US, UK, and Europe.
While short-term funding applications will still be submitted as opportunities arise, the preference of CAIN and senior staff is to engage with potential funders around the possibility of core funding for a period of two to three years. This would allow a major overhaul of the technology of the CAIN website and a wide range of updates to be carried out to the primary information and source materials on the site. So, university staff and CAIN will be organising a workshop in September to bring together potential funders and to outline to them how the content on the archive could be presented in a fresh way for specific groups of users.
Source of funding for the extension
Recognising that it will require additional time to secure this core funding, ARK (Northern Ireland's social policy hub) and the Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, have agreed to allocate reserves of funding to cover the cost of keeping CAIN staff in post for one year from 1 August 2019. Thus the immediate closure of CAIN as a live archive has been lifted. During the first nine months (1 August 2019 to 30 April 2020) CAIN will remain an active archive and staff will attempt to secure the longer-term funding. If this funding cannot be found, then work will be undertaken to convert CAIN to an unstaffed, static archive during the three months from 1 May to 31 July 2020.
The CAIN staff would like to thank ARK and the Dean for deciding to support CAIN during a renewed attempt to secure longer-term funding. CAIN staff also thank the local representatives of the UCU and other academic colleagues for their support during the consultation process.
Further updates will be added to this webpage.
Anyone requiring additional information can contact the CAIN Director:
Recent Media Items
Information about the outcome of the consultation has appeared in the media recently:
See other media items below related to the consultation phase.
Consultation on the future of CAIN - Ended 2nd May[Original note, 25 February 2019; Last updated 3 June 2019]
Ulster University held a 12-week consultation about the future of the CAIN Web Service. This consultation ran from 7th February to 2nd May 2019.
As users of CAIN will be aware, the website holds a large archive of information and source materials on the Northern Ireland and politics in the region. This archive has been freely available on-line since March 1997. New materials added on a regular basis. This is a unique academic and civic resource, but resource-building work is also increasingly challenging to fund.
Over the last few years the level of research grant income has not matched the cost of providing the service. Ulster University has met the shortfall duing this period but is keen to find a way to make the resource sustainable in the long term.
A consultation was held on the future of CAIN as a live research project. If that is not possible then the staff would be made redundant and on-line access would be ensured by making CAIN a special digital collection within the University's Library. However, in the absence of dedicated staff, no new material would be added, no updates carried out, and no queries or permission requests would be dealt with.
Following the ending of the consultation the responses are being reviewed. The University will explore the ideas and proposals made during the process. The outcome of this process will be made known in due course. Anyone with a query regarding the consultation should contact Dr Martin Melaugh:
Information about the consultation has appeared in the media recently:
CAIN contains information and source material on the conflict and politics in Northern Ireland.
CAIN is based within Ulster University.
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