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Conference Presentations 2014

  • IASSIST 2014-Aligning Data and Research Infrastructure, Toronto
    Host Institution: University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and York University

2F: Harmonization, Thesauri and Indexing (Wed, 2014-06-04)
Chair:Tanvi Desai

  • Taxonomy / Lexicon project at the US Bureau of Labor Statistics
    Daniel Gillman (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)


    The US Bureau of Labor Statistics is building a taxonomy and lexicon of terms and concepts of its technical language. The terms will also be linked to plain English words the public tends to use in place of them. The taxonomy will first be organized as a thesaurus, with possible expansion as resources permit and the need demands. The lexicon will be an alphabetical listing of the terms. The main drivers for the project are to support 1) the development of an agency wide series dissemination system, and 2) tagging documents, reports, and periodicals. An aim is to ensure consistent retrieval of documents and data. A team was assembled over the summer to address these issues. First, we gathered the terms and underlying concepts describing time series. These will be organized, and concurrently, the plain English words the public uses will be identified. Finally, terms, concepts, and plain English describing other data will be added. The initial phase of this project is due in January, but additional work and improvements will be necessary. Organizations that build thesauri find the system must be continually maintained, so this will be an on-going effort.

  • Linking thesauri: ELSST as a hub for social science data terms
    Lorna Balkan (UK Data Archive)


    Without controlled index terms, data retrieval within a data catalogue becomes at best hit and miss. The UK Data Archive manages two thesauri: the multilingual ELSST thesaurus, and the monolingual HASSET thesaurus, from which it is derived. Over the last year, through funding from the UK’s ESRC, the Archive has developed both of these thesauri, plus their management applications, and created linkages between them. Extending ISO 25964, the UKDA has developed a way of mapping its social science thesauri to facilitate cross-national data retrieval. It has also created SKOS formats and is developing a new and innovative application for thesaurus management which combines term visualisation with tree structures. The two thesauri now share a clearly defined, common set of core concepts, but have room for divergence. The new application will allow terms to be promoted to the core set, where they exhibit partial or exact equivalence, or be demoted to ‘non-core’. The application allows authorised language equivalents to be added to ELSST terms. Bundled suggestions will also be made for changes to the thesaurus terms or structure, linked to the tree structure. This paper describes the new application and the processes used within the UKDA for thesaurus management.

  • Improving precision and recall in study retrieval: A concept for thesaurus-based syntactic indexing
    Tanja Friedrich (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
    Pascal Siegers (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)


    Current practice in subject indexing of study descriptions in data catalogues often consists in assigning a limited number of non-linked subject terms. To control for semantic ambiguity and improve recall in retrieval, ideally a thesaurus is used to perform this task. However, this practice does not solve the problem of syntactic ambiguity in subject indexing, which is of particular relevance to questionnaire-based study descriptions. For example, the general terms attitude, behaviour, and experience may co-occur with subject terms like democracy, homosexuality, and religion without being apparent, to which of these subjects the attitudes, behaviours, and experiences have been enquired. This kind of syntactic ambiguity results in imprecise retrieval, in particular when in-depth indexing is employed. We suggest a concept of thesaurus-based syntactic indexing for study descriptions that aims at using high specificity and pre-coordination of terms with the intention of improving recall as well as precision in retrieval. We are working with role indicators (indicating general or subject terms) and with term linking in order to index concepts on the item or variable level (e.g. ‘democracy: attitude’; ‘homosexuality: behavior’; ‘religion: experience’). We plan to employ our concept of thesaurus-based syntactic indexing to enable sophisticated retrieval techniques like faceted searching.

  • The case of CharmStats or how the process of harmonization can document itself using the right tool
    Kristi Winters (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
    Martin Friedrich (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
    Alexia Katsanidou (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)


    Comparative social researchers often confront the challenge of making key concepts equivalent across different factors. Usual examples are geographical space or stretches of time or different codings. GESIS has developed the software program CharmStats (Coding and Harmonizing of Statistics) to provide social researchers with a structured, documentable and publishable solution to data harmonization. By enabling researchers to simultaneously perform and document the process of variable coding and harmonization, the resulting CharmStats Projects can be used for publication and citation providing also syntaxes for proprietary software packages. The presentation reviews the CharmStats software and the logic behind it. We will demonstrate how the application allows users to browse stored harmonization projects. Using the concept ‘Education’ and data from the CSES (Comparative Study of Electoral Systems) as our basis, we will present step by step a full publishable CharmStats Project.

  • DDA indexing platform
    Jannik Jensen (Danish National Archive)


    With a study collection fully documented in DDI-L a handful of advantages for dissemination services and support comes along. DDA has built the infrastructure to facilitate dissemination of DDI-L on the web. This infrastructure incorporates: Multi-faceted search Landing page with micro format mark-up prepared for search engine harvesting DDI Codebook rendering DDI URN resolution API access These elements are built into one single platform – on which DDI-L collection deployment is a breeze. The infrastructure is published open source and in production at DDA. We invite you to come and hear about the architecture behind the scenes and see the features the infrastructure offers.


2G: Next-Generation DDI (Wed, 2014-06-04)
Moderator: Steve McEachern

  • Next-Generation DDI: Building Model-Based DDI 4
    Arofan Gregory (Open Data Foundation)
    Wendy Thomas (Minnesota Population Center)
    Joachim Wackerow (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
    Mary Vardigan (University of Michigan, ICPSR)


    The DDI specification of the future will be based on an information model. This is a common strategy for standards development and it offers several benefits: improved communication with other disciplines and standards efforts, flexibility in terms of technical expressions of the model, and streamlined development and maintenance, among others. Goals for the new model-based specification include: * Robust and persistent information model * Complete data life cycle coverage * Broadened focus on new research domains * Simpler specification that is easier to understand and use, including better documentation Development of the model has already begun with a recent “sprint” held in Germany in October 2013. This session will provide an overview of the modeling project with an emphasis on both content and technical perspectives.

2H: RDM across boundaries and disciplines (Wed, 2014-06-04)
Chair:Natsuko Nicholls

  • Tracking the effectiveness of research data management training
    Laurence Horton (The London School of Economics and Political Science)
    Alexia Katsanidou (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)
    Astrid Recker (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences)


    Much work has been done on scoping researcher requirements when it comes to Research Data Management (RDM) training and support. However, despite community agreement that implementation of effective RDM techniques rather than just training is the critical factor in producing good quality reusable data, there has been less research on the effectiveness and impact of training and support. This paper contributes to this literature by asking participants in Research Data Management training workshops organized by the GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences how and if implemented knowledge gained from our workshops. GESIS launched its Archive and Data Management Training Center in 2011. The center provides introductory level training for a pan-European audience of researchers in RDM. Since its establishment, the center has held four workshops attended by 60 people from 12 European nations. As part of our workshops we gather profiles of participants — their research type, discipline, why they attend, and initial workshop evaluations, thereby building up a profile of our audience that allows us to gain impressions of the effectiveness of training that could have wider lessons for the RDM community.

  • It takes a village: strengthening data management through collaboration with diverse institutional offices
    Alicia Hofelich Mohr (University of Minnesota)
    Thomas Lindsay (University of Minnesota)


    Successful data management involves actions throughout the entire research lifecycle, but often providers of data management services directly interact with researchers only at isolated points in their study. This is a challenge for service providers when trying to help researchers integrate best practices into their workflow, as much of this work takes place in their own offices, labs, or with the help of other specialized support services on campus. Therefore, an important part of promoting data management on campus is to make specialized institutional support offices aware of the impact their services can have on the management of research data. This paper will describe efforts at a large, decentralized, mid-western American university to promote data management practices and awareness by reaching out to offices across campus, including those involved in grants consulting, human subjects protection, data security, survey services, statistical consulting, and technology commercialization. From the perspective of a unit specializing in direct research support, we will also discuss specific ways in which our office is integrating data management into our services. We suggest similar offices at other universities may be overlooked but important allies of libraries in promoting data management practices.

  • Local assessment of science RDM practices as examined through journal policies and recommendations
    Dylanne Dearborn (University of Toronto)
    Steve Marks (University of Toronto)


    It is well established that research data management practices vary greatly across areas within the physical and applied sciences. Challenges for librarians and other data service providers include understanding the differences in disciplinary practices and identifying researchers receptive to engaging with RDM services. Prominent journals requiring that supplementary data be made publicly available could be one possible driver of increased interest in the development of institutional support for RDM practices in the sciences. Using this driver as an instrument to identify potential “clients”, we propose a replicable methodology for local assessment by examining high impact journal policies and harvesting institutional publishing data to determine current local RDM practice across disciplines. The results of the data gathered in this analysis can supplement traditional researcher interviews and identify clusters to engage in further RDM discussion or projects, as well as allow targeted services, training and/or advocacy efforts.

  • Exploring the data management and curation practices of scientists in research labs
    Plato Smith II (Florida State University)


    This presentation will discuss survey results from the Phase 1 of my dissertation research, “Exploring the Data Management and Curation (DMC) Practices of Scientists in Research Labs within a Research University”. Data management and curation (DMC) is comprised of (1) data management planning, (2) data curation, (3) digital curation, and (4) digital preservation concepts. The survey included a 25-question adapted Data Asset Framework (DAF) questionnaire. The survey was administered to five high-profile research labs at Florida State University and scientists affiliated with the National Science Foundation (NSF) EarthCube project in Fall 2013. The survey yielded 107 completes, an 83% completion rate, and 10 scientists that agreed to participate in Phase 2 of my dissertation research that includes interviews currently in progress. The purpose of this survey is to build a better understanding of research data held in departments across multiple disciplinary domains, to inform strategic planning for data management at research labs at Florida State University, and to inform the wider research data management community. This presentation will present survey results from an adapted DAF survey as part of a mixed-methods research approach investigating the data management and curation practices of scientists in research labs and the NSF EarthCube project.

  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications Special issue: A pioneer data librarian
    Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect


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