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CAIN: Conflict Archive on the INternet

Project web site

Programme area
Access to Network Resources

Contact details
Dr Martin Melaugh, Project Manager,
Aberfoyle House, Northland Road, Londonberry, BT48 7JA
Phone: 01504 375517 Fax: 01504 375510

Gillian Robinson, Academic Content,
INCORE, University of Ulster, Coleraine Co. Londonderry BT52 1SA
Phone: 01265 324612 Fax: 01265 324904

Project description

as of 12th January 1996


This project aims to develop, using Northern Ireland as a case study, a collaborative multimedia database of resources relevant to teaching and research in conflict studies. This resource will, through its links with the INCORE project, act as a gateway to network resources on ethnic conflict on the Internet and provide a platform for mounting resources specific to the Northern Ireland conflict held within the partner institutions and elsewhere throughout the province and beyond.

This resource will be of benefit not only to researchers. Lecturers preparing and delivering undergraduate and taught postgraduate programmes in conflict studies will find it particularly helpful, though its content will also be relevant to courses in other areas of the humanities and social sciences.

Beyond its subject content, the project will serve as a model for other communities of interest within the higher education sector in approaching the development of networked information services. The project is, moreover, committed to liaising with other subject-based services and projects, particularly those engaged in this subject area.


Few within the UK and Ireland have been untouched by the past 25 years of civil unrest and political violence in Northern Ireland. Arguably no other conflict has been as well studied and documented. For those studying 'the troubles' its effects can be seen in virtually every aspect of social, cultural and economic life. A rich array of information sources of interest to the social scientist is there to explore.

The partner institutions - University of Ulster, Queen's University of Belfast and the Linen Hall Library - can identify and, in many cases, have access to many of these resources through their libraries, academics and research centres. The Linen Hall Library, in particular, has a unique archive of source materials produced by political and paramilitary groupings. Other interesting material is in the hands of potential information providers such as television companies, newspapers, government departments and public libraries. While the resource proposed will draw on the extensive materials held within the partner institutions, every effort will be made to encourage other information providers to contribute to the resource as well.

The relevance and coherence of the service will be ensured by enlisting senior academics in supervising the identification and selection of materials for inclusion. The materials of interest include, not only bibliographical records held by institutions such as libraries but the personal bibliographies and databases of researchers active in the field. Full-text documents, particularly from the Northern Ireland Political Collection, statistical data and still and moving images will be included as appropriate. The aim is to develop a resource which is more than a passive list of information sources.

It is proposed to use the WorldWide Web (WWW) as the principal delivery mechanism for this service. The service itself would act both as a gateway to other networked resources and as a platform for locally generated resources. The resource would be structured with a series of easy-to- use menus to guide the user to the materials in the areas they require and hyperlinks to relevant material stored elsewhere, whether held locally, in other parts of the resource base or remotely on other hosts.

Key Deliverables and Timescales

The project is envisaged as providing the following benefits. It would:
  • Improve access to source materials often not available elsewhere;
  • Assist in the preparation of learning materials;
  • Reduce pressure on library resources;
  • Encourage active learning;
  • Promote the awareness, value and use of networked
  • information within the academic community;
  • Provide a model for the development of subject-based services which focus on:
(a) The role of higher education institutions as publishers of their own information and that of other information providers,
(b) The study of conflicts elsewhere and,
(c) Other areas of study which are inter-disciplinary in nature.
The principal deliverables of the project will be:

Year 1

Basic framework of the service in place, comprising:

  • An overview of conflict studies and the Northern Ireland conflict as an area of study
  • 2 to 3 key periods and issues illustrated by multimedia resources
  • Contextual information on Northern Ireland gathered at UU and QUB
  • Directory of researchers on the Northern Ireland conflict world-wide initiated
  • Preliminary list of resources converted (in whole or part); others identified and incorporated or linked to (liaising with the University of Central England on bibliographical coverage)
Year 2

Further development of the content of the resource by

a) extending the periods and issues covered in year 1,
b) completing/updating contextual information mounted in year 1 and,
c) identifying and incorporating other information providers

Evaluation report

Final report describing the set up of the service and the technical, academic and service issues involved


The University of Ulster and the Queen's University of Belfast both have research and teaching interests in the field of ethnic conflict, particularly the conflict in Northern Ireland. In the case of the University of Ulster this includes the Centre for the Study of Conflict and INCORE, both of which are practical expressions of academic commitment to a pressing global problem that has immediate local consequences. INCORE (INitiative on COnflict Resolution and Ethnicity) is the joint University of Ulster and United Nations University programme established to integrate research, practice, policy and theory, and provide an international focus on the growing problem associated with ethnic violence.

The School of Social Sciences and the School of Modern History at the Queen's University of Belfast have strong teaching and research interests in the area of modern Irish politics, society and history. These interests are supported by a major collection of materials relating to Irish Studies in the University Library.

The Linen Hall Library, Belfast, has collected political literature and ephemera from all parties to the conflict since the outset of the troubles. Its unique Northern Ireland Political Collection contains some 80,000 items.

Experience and expertise in providing networked information services is provided by the University of Ulster Educational Services, which comprises the Library, Computer Services and the Educational Technology Unit and the Queen's University Library and Computer Centre.

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