JISC Information Environment Architecture
This glossary defines the key terminology used within the
JISC Information Environment (IE) technical architecture.
It should be noted that some of the terms below may have wider (or different)
meanings when used in contexts other than the JISC IE.
- A physical or digital entity.
- An aggregation of one or more items.
- The provision of, or system of supplying, one or more functions
of interest to an end-user or software application.
'Informational' services provide access to,
or metadata about,
items and/or collections.
are those that do not primarily concern the supply of
information, for example
photocopying, printing or banking services.
Services may be
physical or on-line (digital).
- An item, collection or service of interest to the
- Learning Resource
- A resource with a learning objective.
- Record / Metadata record
- Structured data about a resource.
- Network Service
- A service that is provided on-line (digitally). 'Informational' network
services include those that provide access to, or
metadata about, items or collections
at a digital location.
Examples include Web sites, document supply
services, abstracting and indexing services, data archives, online
catalogues, databases, email archives, etc.
'Transactional' network services are those
that are not primarily concerned with the supply of information,
for example format conversion, printing,
authentication or e-commerce services.
- Structured Network Service
- A network service that provides structured access to structured
Structured network services are intended for use by
Examples of structured network services are
those based on Z39.50, the OAI-PMH, RSS/HTTP and SOAP.
Note that an HTML-based Web site is not 'structured',
in the sense that it does not provide structured access to
'Web services', as defined in the
Web Services Description Language (WSDL)
1.1 W3C Note, are examples of structured network services.
- A network service that provides a personalised, single point of
access to a range of
heterogeneous network services, local and remote, structured and
unstructured. Portal functionality often includes
resource discovery, email access and online discussion
fora. Portals are intended for (human) end-users using common Web
In the context of the JISC IE,
portals interact with brokers, aggregators, indexes, catalogues
and content providers
using Z39.50, SRW, the OAI-PMH and RSS/HTTP.
- A structured network service that provides (search) access to a
range of other, heterogeneous, local or remote structured network
services. Brokers are intended for use by software
In the context of the JISC IE,
brokers interact with indexes, catalogues, aggregators,
content providers, other brokers
and portals using Z39.50.
- A structured network service that gathers metadata from a range
of other, heterogeneous, local or remote structured network
services. Aggregators are intended for use by software
In the context of the JISC IE,
aggregators interact with indexes, catalogues, content providers and
using the OAI-PMH and RSS/HTTP.
Aggregators interact with portals using the OAI-PMH.
In some cases an aggregator may offer its aggregated metadata as a
A network service that provides access to a collection of human-generated
A network service that provides access to a
machine-generated database of information derived
from the content of items in a collection.
- Content Provider
- A network service that makes a collection available.
A content provider may disclose metadata about its resources through
a structured network service.
In the context of the JISC IE,
a content provider interacts with brokers, aggregators and portals using
Z39.50, the OAI-PMH and RSS/HTTP.
Note that 'content provider' may also refer to the organisation that makes
collections available - which may be a JISC-funded service, an HE/FE
institution, or some other organisation.
- Subject Gateway / Gateway
- A network service based on
a catalogue of Internet resources.
The gateways provided by RDN hubs focus on particular
- OpenURL Link Servers
A network service that takes metadata about a resource in
the form of an OpenURL and supplies
links (pointers) to services on, or related to,
that resource, for example delivery services.
- Infrastructural Services
- A range of shared structured network services that are called
on by content providers, brokers, aggregators, indexes, catalogues and portals.
Infrastructural services include
authentication, authorisation, service registry,
user preferences, resolver, institutional profile,
metadata schema registry and terminology services.
- Authentication Service
A structured network service that
that the digital ID being presented to a
network service is being used by the real-world individual who has the
rights to use it.
This is often achieved through the use of a username/password combination
or a digital certificate, depending on
the degree of assurance required.
- Authorisation Service
A structured network service that indicates whether a particular
digital ID has the necessary
access-rights to access a particular resource.
- Service Registry
A network service that stores and makes
available descriptions of (i.e. metadata about)
services and the content of
collections made available through those services.
A service registry is used by portals to determine what collections are
available to end-users, and by portals, brokers and aggregators
to determine how to interact with available network services.
- User Preferences Service
A structured network service that stores and makes available
information about the preferences of end-users.
- Identifier Service
A network service that maintains and provides an association between an
identifier and some metadata about the identified resource.
Typically, an identifier service takes an identifier of a resource
and returns a locator for it
(usually in the form of a URL).
- Institutional Profiling Service
A structured network service that stores and makes available information
about what licences institutions hold, i.e. their access rights
as organisations to particular resources, and other
institution-wide preferences, such as prefered
- Metadata Schema Registry
A network service that stores and makes available information about the
metadata schemas in use by other services.
- Terminology Service
A structured network service that offers terminolgy-related services, for example
mapping a term from one controlled vocabulary to another or expanding terms
within a thesaurus.
- Brokers, aggregators and infrastructural services.
- Provision / Content Provision
- The function of making a collection or item available through a
The function of offering metadata records for searching (using Z39.50)
or gathering (using the OAI-PMH and/or RSS/HTTP) through a structured
A disclosure strategy based on issuing information about new or updated
resources, typically through a network service or via email.
- The function of combining metadata records, by searching (using Z39.50),
gathering (using the OAI-PMH, RSS/HTTP and/or HTTP) or manual cataloguing.
- The function of providing a network service intended for
The activity of determining which collections and/or services
are likely to be of interest
for further investigation.
- The activity of finding items and/or services of interest.
A survey or discover strategy based on issuing a query and receiving a set
of search results.
A survey or discover strategy based on following links between
- Use Saved Record / Follow Path
A survey or discover strategy based on following the saved results from
a previous survey or discover activity.
Examples include making use of Web browser bookmarks or a course
- The activity of obtaining the most appropriate copy of
a discovered resource.
- The activity of doing something with a resource that has
- The activity of making a resource available to others.
- The activity of placing a resource within a repository, typically
with the intention of making it available to others.
- The activity of combining serveral resources (or parts of
resources) to create a new resource. Creating an IMS package is an
example of assembly.
Protocols and standards
- A protocol supporting distributed search and retrieve between
structured network services.
The Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting. A protocol
supporting the bulk exchange of metadata records between structured network
RSS is RDF Site Summary - an RDF/XML application for describing syndicated
RSS/HTTP is the exchange of RSS files
between network services using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol.
A standard for transporting metadata between network services by encoding it
in a URL.
The Simple Object Access Protocol. A protocol for issuing a 'remote procedure
call' to a structured network service based on XML and HTTP.
The Web Services Descrition Language. An XML application for describing
Universal Discovery, Description and Integration.
A technology for building distributed registries of Web services.
- A SOAP-based search
protocol based on a subset of Z39.50 functionality.
- The Dublin Core, a relatively simple set of metadata terms supporting
- IEEE LOM
- A metadata standard for the description of learning objects.