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Archiving, Preservation, Curation

Defining the nature of data archives, their functions and their operation

IASSIST Quarterly (IQ) volume 34-2 now on the web

The new issue of the IASSIST Quarterly is now available on the web. This is the volume 34 (number 2, 2010).

 http://iassistdata.org/iq/issue/34/2

The layout has changed. We hope you’ll enjoy the new style presented. It seems to be a more modern format and more suited for the PDF presentation on the web. Walter Piovesan – our publication officer – had a biking accident. To show that nothing is so bad that it is not good for something Walter used his recovery time to redesign the IQ. Furthermore, Walter is the person in charge of the upcoming 2011 IASSIST conference, so he is a busy guy. And I’m happy to say that Walter should be fit for the conference.

This issue of the IQ features the following papers:

Rein Murakas and Andu Rämmer from the Estonian Social Science Data Archive (ESSDA) at the University of Tartu describe in their paper "Social Science Data Archiving and Needs of the Public Sector: the Case of Estonia" how the archive had a historical background in the empirical research of the Soviet Union.

From the historical background we move to web 2.0 in a paper  by Angela Hariche, Estelle Loiseau and Philippa Lysaght on "Wikiprogress and Wikigender: a way forward for online collaboration". The authors are working at the OECD and the paper's statement is that "collaborative platforms such as wikis along with advances in data visualisation are a way forward for the collection, analysis and dissemination of data across countries and societies”.

The third paper addresses an issue of central importance for most data archives. The question concerns balancing data confidentiality and the legitimate requirements of data users. This is a key problem of the Secure Data Service (SDS) at the UK Data Archive, University of Essex. The paper "Secure Data Service: an improved access to disclosive data" by Reza Afkhami, Melanie Wright, and Mus Ahmet shows how the SDS will allow researchers remote access to secure servers at the UK Data Archive.

The last article has the title "A user-driven and flexible procedure for data linking". The authors are Cees van der Eijk and Eliyahu V. Sapir from the Methods and Data Institute at the University of Nottingham. The data linking relates to research combining several different datasets. The implementation is developed for the PIREDEU project in comparative electoral research. The authors are combining traditional survey data with data from party manifestos and state-level data.

Articles for the IQ are always very welcome. They can be papers from IASSIST or other conferences, from local presentations or papers directly  written for the IQ.

Notice that chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the session participants and will be readily available on the IASSIST website.

Authors are very welcome to take a look at the description for layout and sending papers to the IQ:

http://iassistdata.org/iq/instructions-authors

Authors can also contact me via e-mail: kbr @ sam.sdu.dk. Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor or editors I will also be delighted to hear from you.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen, editor

Data Management & Curation Resources

Dear IASSIST members,

The Data Management & Curation Good Practice Action Group has been working this past year to compile a list of links and resources related to Data Management & Curation.

This group has been charged with “collecting a set of existing resources and links from among the membership to create a resource page on the public website covering the topics of good practice, standards, and activity in Data Management and Data Curation”.

Our focus is on the audience of the IASSIST membership. We tied the scope of this project to the IASSIST Strategic Plan. Basically, we are working to create a web resource which will provide information and resources directly related to the following areas:

  • Policies for making research data accessible
  • Practices in making research data accessible
  • Resources on responsible data curation
  • Data Management Plans

In keeping with the outlined project scope, we have gathered information in the following areas:

  • guides to data management,
  • tools for data management planning,
  • sample and template data management plans,
  • resources for data curation,
  • funder policies

Our resource page is now live on the IASSIST website:

http://www.iassistdata.org/resources/category/data-management-and-curation

Please take a look at the resources we have listed. If you are aware of, or are responsible for, great resources or tools that are not listed, and do fall within the criteria above, please send the information to our group at : iassist_dmag@googlegroups.com by May 13, 2011. We will add them to the site. This is just a starting point. We apologize in advance if your resources were not included in this preliminary stage of development.

This site is intended to be an active resource which can and should be expanded upon over time. It is our hopes to establish a new IASSIST Action Group to be responsible for maintaining the site.

There may also be topics of interest which are not listed due to the scope of our project, for instance, we have decided at this point not to include sites on related topics such as advocacy, data communities, data lifecycles, data creation best practices, data use, metadata, data ethics, preservation, and professional development.  We are mindful that these are important issues, but needed to start with a more limited scope. There may be future opportunities for IASSIST members to gather information on areas outside the scope of this group.

If you have any ideas or comments on the resources listed or any other aspect of the project, please feel free to contact us. We are looking forward to receiving your input. Again, our deadline for input on this phase of the project should be sent to us by May 13, 2011.


Carol Perry
On behalf of the DMAG team

Science Special: Dealing with Data

In the 11 February 2011 issue, Science joins with colleagues from Science Signaling, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Careers to provide a broad look at the issues surrounding the increasingly huge influx of research data. This collection of articles highlights both the challenges posed by the data deluge and the opportunities that can be realized if we can better organize and access the data.
 
Science is making access to this entire collection FREE (simple registration is required for non-subscribers).
  more...

ICPSR Offers Guidance on Data Management Plans

In response to NSF's new requirement for data management plans in grant applications, ICPSR recently rolled out new Web pages providing guidance on how to create such plans effectively: http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/dmp/. more...

IHSN: Principles and Good Practice for Preserving Data

The International Household Survey Network (IHSN) just released a new publication on “Principles and Good Practice for Preserving Data”. This document produced by the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social research (ICPSR) provides basic guidance for managers in statistical agencies who are responsible for preserving data using the principles and good practice defined by the digital preservation community. more...

Conference webcasts and presentations online!

A week has passed since IASSIST 2009. I hope most of you have made it safely back home by now - and are ready to refresh the memories by watching the conference webcasts and viewing presentations. Webcasts of all three plenaries and Thursday and Friday's concurrent sessions in the Small Auditorium are now available. We didn't have cameras available during the Wednesday sessions, so no videos of these presentations, sorry! But most of the presentations are already online - a few are still missing either because we didn't have them or we are waiting for an updated version. Please send in any missing presentations or email me if there are mistakes that should be corrected!

 

Tuomas J. Alaterä Information Network Specialist tuomas.alatera@uta.fi Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD) http://www.fsd.uta.fi FI-33014 University of Tampere

Special IQ: Moving Research Data Into and Out of Institutional Repositories

The IASSIST Quarterly IQ Vol. 31 issue 3&4 is now available on the web:

http://iassistdata.org/publications/iq/iqvol31.html

This issue will only be available on the web. There will be no printed version mailed out to the membership.

This double issue is the work of the authors and their articles are introduced below. We are presenting an integrated double issue of high quality. We should also give a special thanks to the editors of the issue. Gretchen Gano is the writing guest editor of this IQ as you can see below. Gretchen Gano is the Assistant Curator Librarian for Public Administration & Government Information and Coordinator, Data Service Studio at New York University Libraries. Gretchen Gano collaborated on this issue from the start with former IASSIST president Ann Green. Together with the authors a great issue has been made.

Enjoy

Karsten Boye Rasmussen, IQ editor, associate professor, kbr@sam.sdu.dk, Marketing & Management, SDU, University of Southern Denmark +45 6550 2115

Guest Editor's Notes:

The 2008 IASSIST Conference, “Technology of Data: Collection, Communication, Access and Preservation” included a session entitled “Moving Research Data Into and Out of Institutional Repositories” from which several papers emerged. In “Interoperability Between Institutional and Data Repositories: a Pilot Project at MIT”, Katherine McNeill describes a pilot project to enhance study discovery between two repository systems housed in the same institution, DSpace and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science Dataverse Network, by enabling the harvesting and replication of metadata and content across the two systems. In a related project across the pond, Libby Bishop scales this discussion in her description of crossinstitutional collection sharing between the University of Leeds and the UK Data Archive in the Timescapes project. Bishop asserts that coordination among multiple agents is likely to be challenging under any circumstances. Challenges magnify when the trajectories of different life cycles, for research projects and for data sharing, are considered. Robin Rice echoes these sentiments in her article on the DISC-UK DataShare Project, a collaboration between the Universities of Edinburgh, Oxford and Southampton and the London School of Economics. Rice provides visual evidence in a compelling diagram of the data sharing continuum based on storage, discovery, and preservation conditions of the digital research materials at each level along the scale -- from the lowly thumb drive to the officious national archive. We see plainly that as one moves up the continuum, more and more human effort and intervention is required to craft the discovery, access, analytic and preservation environment. In other words, data curators matter.

Two other papers tackle these challenges by emphasizing the needs of data producers. Luis Martinez-Uribe introduces the University of Oxford’s Scoping Digital Repository Services for Research Data Management project and the findings of a requirement gathering exercise. While the study results reveal researchers’ needs and workflows. Martinez-Uribe asserts that the study process itself made an impact on the participants. Study participants reflected on and, as a result, fine-tuned how they work with data, why they create these materials in the first place and were able to articulate reasons for managing these resources the way they do. Similarly, Research Data & Environmental Sciences Librarian, Gail Steinhart, writes about the development of DataStaR, a Data Staging Repository hosted by Cornell University’s Albert R. Mann Library. The project developed as a “managed workspace” where researchers contribute datasets they are still actively using in direct response to questions that have to do with sharing in the active research environment, rather than an archival one.

While the authors in this issue describe projects going on in many different places and settings, taken together, these articles address common themes. All address the challenge of scaling data exchange between systems and then between institutions. This raises the perennial question of standards: by what mechanisms will we set them, and how well will we be able to follow them and still accommodate local needs? The importance of aligning repository services with researcher needs is another common thread. Data managers must ask, “how will the active researcher benefit from curation efforts”? The answer may be that benefit is more than finding or accessing a particular resource (yep, I have downloaded the whole thing and all the bits are there), but instead being able to examine this resource in many ways (okay, lets run frequencies, now I want to see it on a map, and let’s include some other variables). This is a rich reuse experience, creating a real digital “laboratory.”

Finally, each contributor notes the expanding role of data manager. In its own way, each project described here moves data managers upstream, pre-publication, into the place where research is actively happening. Though all of the articles focus on technological choices and architectures to support research data curation, it is striking to realize that each of these choices emerge from old-fashioned personal, social, and organizational relationships. What we can strive for as data and information managers is to work together as fellow researchers and to be ever curious about how these partnerships and the sharing of information back and forth can be enhanced by thoughtful information and technology design. Some call this the digital plumbing, but I like to think of it as e-gilding.

Gretchen Gano, New York University Libraries

New IQ!

The IASSIST Quarterly (IQ Vol. 31 issue 2 - 2007) is now available on the web:

 

http://iassistdata.org/publications/iq/iqvol31.html

 

This issue will be printed and mailed to the membership. From next issue IASSIST will be saving trees and only publish the IQ on the web. We hope you agree with our decision. Thanks.

  more...

Open Access and Reuse of Research Data in Finland

In 2006, motivated by the OECD Open Access guidelines, the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD) carried out an online survey targeting professors of human sciences, social sciences and behavioural sciences in Finnish universities. Professors were asked, for example, whether their department had any guidelines on the preservation of digital research data. A great and alarming majority (90%) said no. The survey also charted what actually happens to research data and what are the barriers to and benefits of open access to research data.

In 2006, motivated by the OECD Open Access guidelines, the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (FSD) carried out an online survey targeting professors of human sciences, social sciences and behavioural sciences in Finnish universities.

Professors were asked, for example, whether their department had any guidelines on the preservation of digital research data. A great and alarming majority (90%) said no.

What then happens to research data? Most common practise seems to be that the data remains in the hand of the original researcher(s). Even if the data are stored in the department or research insitute, no further processing nor documentation takes place. FSD's influence could be seen in social sciences, making archiving at a data archive a bit more frequent than in other sciences.

The survey also charted barriers to open access. Professors were concerned about inadvertent misuse of data and consequent mistakes. Of course, without detailed documentation, data reuse may indeed result in inaccurate interpretations. Lack of agreements regarding data ownership and IP rights were also mentioned as barriers, as well as loss of competitive advantage, IT problems, and confidentiality issues.

On the other hand, the professors saw many benefits in open access to research data. The most significant was enhancing the diversity of research designs with the use of archived data. All in all, the benefits were estimated to be more significant than the barriers. The survey also showed - not surprisingly - that it is usual to a researcher to have a positive attitude towards open access in general but a less-than-enthusiastic one to open access to his/her own data.

The report concludes that from the viewpoint of long-term preservation and reuse, it is definitely less recommendable to leave the responsibility for the preservation and dissemination of data to individual researchers. Changing this practice that still prevails in Finnish universities and other Finnish research organisations constitutes one of the key goals in the national implementation of the OECD Recommendation.

An abridged version of the report is available in English:
Arja Kuula & Sami Borg (2008). Open Access to and Reuse of Research Data - The State of the Art in Finland. University of Tampere. Finnish Social Science Data Archive; 7. ISBN: 978-951-44-7479-8.

Download the report as a PDF file.

The survey data is naturally available, too:
FSD2268 Open Access to and Reuse of Research Data 2006

Mari Kleemola
Finnish Social Science Data Archive
IASSIST European Regional Secretary

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