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International Digital Curation Conference 2016 (IDCC16)

The International Digital Curation Conference 2016 was in Amsterdam between 23-24 February.

IASSIST was again a sponsor, and presented a poster on IASSIST members’ activities. In addition, plenty of familiar faces were present including our current IASSIST president and three former ones.

This year’s conference was the eleventh IDCC and took the title of "Visible data, invisible infrastructure". This asks what can we do to make the hard work of preserving data and making it and keeping it usable as easy as possible for researchers to use and as unobtrusive as possible in their work.

One feature of this year’s conference was the importance of terminology. In his opening keynote, Barend Mons made a good point that accessible data is not open data and sharing data does not make it reusable. Reusable is what is important. In his plenary, Andrew Sallans spoke of openness and sharing as core to scientific activity. His presentation was insightful on how data is lost (paywalls, broken links, TIF walls), as was his call for five percent of research budgets be reserved for data stewardship and the need for Europe to train 500,000 data experts in the next decade. The final keynote from Susan Halford was a warning about sloppy research methodology as researchers gorge on new big data sources. Using social media as an example, she cautioned on how these are not “naturally occurring” data but mediated by private companies using methods we do not know about.

The rest of the conference split into concurrent sessions with either a national or institutional focus, or featuring demonstrations and elaborations on tools and services. It is interesting to see how ventures like Dataverse and DMPonline/Tool fit into national infrastructure initiatives like Australian National Data Service or Canada’s Portage and institutional ones like those demonstrated by the universities of Oxford and California. If they are to do so successfully, it will be with a vison of enabling researchers to do better science rather than compelling researchers to comply with bureaucracy, and that the route to achieving this will be through open standards and building on existing initiatives rather than going back to constructing new tools to do essentially the same job.

An impressive feature of IDCC is the methodological rigour applied to research papers. An example to highlight from the programme was Renata Curty’s research on Factors influencing research data reuse in social sciences.

The final notable aspect of IDCC16 was how almost none of the suggestions in keynotes and tools presented supported “traditional” academic publishing. Reuse needs discoverable, machine readable, contextualised data with minimal barriers to access and minimal limits on usage – not the business model on which some well-known academic publishers thrive.

All presentations, posters, demonstrations, as well as blogs reporting on IDCC16 can be found on the DCC website.

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