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Regional Report 2005-2006: Canada

IASSIST Regional Report 2005-2006
Canada
Bo Wandschneider
University of Guelph
May 16, 2006

CENSUS : 2006 is a Census year and the day I am writing this is actually Census Day – the day we are all supposed to fill in our Census. In Canada it is against the law to not do this and of course all Canadians are law abiding (apparently only 5 people were convicted in 2001). So guess what – I just filled out my Census and I filled it out on-line! This is the first Census we have been able to fill out on-line and you can just imagine what type of experience this was for a data geek. I thought I would outline some of this experience. If you want to see the site it is currently available at http://www50.statcan.ca/census2006/. A note on the site says that “the site is temporarily experiencing traffic that far exceeds capacity” and they remind you that the site is open until May 23rd. I suppose this means Canadians are using the technology, but this also means the Census is no longer taken at a specific point in time.

We all get the paper copy of the Census mailed to us – one copy in French and one in English – not even our tax forms come in both official languages. This year we were given a url and a 15 digit code. Worked like a charm, but there was a couple of instances were verification was done and it went off to think for a minute or two. I almost think the delays were put in to just make us feel better about security.

Upon entering the site my first reaction was that somehow I had gotten into the non-existent Dutch Census as everything was orange. The questions were straight forward but I still haven’t managed to be in the group who gets the long form with more questions. In addition, in paper I read the form in columns, which is by person, whereas as on the web they are presented in rows, which is by question. Maybe a subtle difference, but I could imagine it introducing some bias.

There were some significant changes this year. For the first time you are asked if you agree to have your information made public in 92 years. This is interesting for two reasons - firstly the ‘head’ consents for all the people in the ‘census family’ and secondly it will be interesting to see how many do not give their consent. There is a lot of concern about this from genealogists and historians.

The other interesting questions centre around same sex relationships and marital status. Apparently marital status and common law are in some way mutually exclusive and require different questions. Legally married seems separate from common law, which I think is debatable. Same sex relationships were also only explicitly mentioned under common law relationships. I know they were struggling with how to word these questions and all I can say is it confused me and it will be interesting to try and weed out the meaning of the responses.

The other interesting issue had to do with outsourcing of part of the Census project to an American firm. It got a lot of press, but it seems to have blown over. Given the track record we will report on some of the findings by the time we tell you about the 2011 Census. :-)

DLI: The Data Liberation Initiative is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and it has been fun. There has been a celebration touring the regions and a few of the people who have been there since day one put together a very interesting slide show detailing a lot of the old correspondence and pictures of people with more hair. It was interesting because it really showed how much work went into getting this project off the ground. It certainly signals how fragile these things are and reminds us we should really value the effort to set them up. During the celebrations in Guelph we heard some very encouraging words from the Dean of Social Sciences on the impact of DLI for research and teaching in his college. It really has been a revolution for Canada.

Training continues to be a core piece of DLI with sessions being run regionally. We heard some excellent sessions from the Input/output folks, Justice and had a presentation focused on the Nutrition portion of the CCHS. In addition there were a series of workshops the Statistical Literacy, Census, GIS and DDI.

IASSIST 2007 – McGill Library and EDRS invite everyone in the IASSIST community to come to wonderful city of Montreal in May 2007 when the IASSIST conference comes to McGill University. Mark the dates: May 12--18, 2007. We are interested in holding sessions en français, and would appreciate feedback from those interested in participating or attending.

CAPDU – The Canadian Association of Public Data Users will be meeting in Ann Arbor during the IASSIST. A tentative agenda should be posted on the CAPDU website http://www.capdu.ca .

NDA – If you recall, the note from Chuck last year discussed the National Consultation on Access to Scientific Research Data report that had just been submitted. At this stage the PM's National Science Advisor, Arthur Carty, and David Strong from the NCASRD have been in Ottawa trying to find a champion for the NCASRD report. Data Canada, which would include national data archiving services, is the entity that they are seeking to get promoted on the Hill.

DDI – Earlier this year Statistics Canada held their annual methodologists conference with a focus on Metadata. Three members of our community, Michelle Edwards, Marie-Josée Bourgeois and Irene Wong presented a paper on DDI. In addition Chuck Humphrey wrote a paper with Tim Dunstan from the Standards Division of STC, which, if nothing else, has STC at least talking about the life cycle of data. CANDDI continues and has added a blog. See more info below about the DINO proposal.

Also of interest in terms of creating DDI-compliant metatdata is a project out of Alberta called SHARP. This is a CIHR infrastructure application to establish a topical data archive for knowledge utilization research data. SHARP is the acronym for Share and house Accessible Research Products. This project would be housed in the knowledge Utilization Studies in Practice unit in the School of Nursing at the University of Alberta. They currently have a Metadata Analyst hired working on creating DDI-compliant documentation for them.

We are also working with people in the Century Project and making them aware of DDI and the value of using this in their metadata creation.

RDC’s – (From Wendy) The RDC National Coordinating Committee met in Winnipeg in April 2006. This was the first meeting since the committee received payment of the first installment of their SSHRC/CIHR grant.

One of the first orders of business was the reaffirmation of Raymond Currie as Chair for a further two years. The Directors unanimously gave Raymond the strongest possible vote of confidence.

The RDC Network has seen another year of growth. Branches have been opened at Laval, Sherbrooke and McGill. UQUAM and Laurentian are about to come on stream. Montreal and Toronto continue to be working at close to capacity. As a result, a change in the allocation formula has been made to accommodate their increased costs in having to provide multiple analysts.

A grant application to the CFI.s Leading Edge fund was prepared last fall and submitted over the winter. The RDC Network is asking for approximately $4 million from CFI, under the $10m proposal.. These funds will be used to build a VPN and to mark up the master files in DDI. If the fund succeeds, it will allow the RDCs to share resources such as analysts, across the network. This will relieve the pressure on the busiest RDCs and allow smaller RDCs to make the best use of their analysts time. It will also provide for the hiring of a knowledge transfer officer who would publicize RDC research results and market them to policy makers in federal and provincial governments. Successful grant applicants will be notified in late November 2006.

While some of the reports from Directors mentioned collaboration with their DLI counterparts, this does not appear to be widespread. A real positive note here, however, is that one of the original problematic relationships appears to have developed a formal, on-going series of joint enterprises to publicize research results using both DLI and RDC data.

Another positive note is the inclusion of DLI materials in the RDC Directors Handbook. These are sent to all new RDC Directors. From now on, the DLI/RDC brochure and a list of DLI contacts will be part of the base package.

ICPSR – The two Canadian federations are preparing to become a single National Federation as part of the transition needed under the new Carnegie Classification model for ICPSR membership.

Citation Guide for Data: Gaëtan Drolet reports that the "How to cite Statistics Canada products" originally developed as a Data Liberation Initiative tool will become an official Statistics Canada publication this summer (Publication number 12-591). This citation will contains around 100 examples for citing statistics, data or maps.

Regional Groups – Data in Ontario, a sub-group of OCUL (Ontario Council of University Libraries) recently prepared a discussion paper called, "Common Metadata Standards and A Centralized Web-based Data Extraction and Analysis System for Ontario" . The paper grew out of a discussion about where the needs of the community were in terms of providing easy access to our collections of electronic data. It takes stock of where the different institutions are now and where they want to be down the road. The paper has a strong focus on metadata standards and DDI, and suggested that there was an opportunity to develop these initiatives under the umbrella of the very successful Scholar's Portal collaboration. The initiatives would leverage resources already out there in the community in terms of creating standard based metadata, such as those outlined by CANDDI. In addition it would follow a model that does not preclude, but encourages distributed infrastructure built on standards. We are pleased to report that the proposal outlined in the document was agreed to in principal by the OCUL Directors and a fund source was identified. Now some work needs to be done on fine tuning the costing of this initiative

ACCOLEDS, the western version of DINO, made inroads with the COPPUL public service group who attended a portion of their DLI training session. Items discussed centered around the statistical and reference interview.

Presentations/Papers : In the area of Statistical Literacy, Wendy Watkins is presenting a paper co-written by Chuck Humphrey at the ICOTS conference in Brazil in July.

In addition Chuck published a chapter in a book on DLI training that came out in the fall of 2005.
Charles Humphrey, Collaborative Training in Statistical and Data Library Services: Lessons from the Canadian Data Liberation Initiative, in William Miller and Rita Pellen, Libraries Beyond Their Institutions: Partnerships that Work: New York: Haworth, 2005, pp. 167-181 and co-published simultaneously in Resource Sharing & Information Networks, vol. 18, nos. 1/2, 2005/2006.

Staff Changes – many new faces in the Canadian Data Community this year and two of our IASSIST colleagues jumped across the border to Canada. Kristi Thompson and Dan Edelstein are now at the University of Windsor – might even consider this a mini reverse brain drain.

That’s all for this year :-)

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