First objective of the JISC-supported Sonex initiative was to identify and analyse deposit opportunities (use cases) for ingest of research papers (and potentially other scholarly work) into repositories. Later on, the project scope widened to include identification and dissemination of various projects being developed at institutions in relation to the deposit usecases previously analyzed. Finally, Sonex was recently asked to extend its analysis of deposit opportunities to research data.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

National initiatives for promoting data management strategies: an overview

- "Hello, I want to deposit my data"
- "Sir, this is a library!"
- "Sorry" -he whispers- "I want to deposit my data".
(as told by Brian Hole, British Library, along his presentation of the DRYAD UK initiative)

  Main objective of the JISC MRD International Workshop held last month was to review progress achieved by the JISC Managing Research Data Programme and to discuss this in the context of broader international developments.

As stated in the workshop programme overview, "this dimension reflects key partnerships which JISC, the JISCMRD Programme and the DCC has been building through the IDCC Conference, the Knowledge Exchange and other initiatives. They include the Australian National Data Service, the NSF funded DataNet Projects, institutions in the US and Australia, the DFG, SURF, DANS etc".

Whithin the broader context, besides a couple of preliminary talks on the European Union approach to (and future funding of) data management initiatives -by John Wood, on the EU 'Riding the wave' report, and by Carlos Morais-Pires on the Digital Agenda for Europe- the workshop featured a specific session on "National and international infrastructure initiatives" whose first panel was called "Approaches and strategies in the UK, US, and Germany". Australian and Dutch national or specific approaches were also discussed, either at this session or later along the event.

Besides the national initiatives featured in this and further sessions along the meeting -it was reassuring to see such a broad scope of strategies or already running projects taking place at the same time in so many different countries- there are also additional, sometimes preliminary initiatives for promoting data management policies at national or institutional level in other countries such as Finland, Portugal, France, Poland or South Africa.

As new initiatives for research data management keep steadily coming up, this session was an opportunity to get an informal update on DCC's report 'Comparative Study of International Approaches to Enabling the Sharing of Research Data' - see its summary and main findings here as of Nov 2008.

Digital Curation Centre - UK
Kevin Ashley, Digital Curation Centre (DCC), described the present picture of data management in the UK as "a new context", where Universities are increasingly willing to take responsibility for data management (specially in areas not covered by Data Centres).
Once UK funder and NSF rules for Data Management Planning are being implemented, this in-advance planning is becoming very important for funders, researchers, institutions, collaborators and reusers. DCC current tasks include integrating different Data Discovery Services plus building institutional capacities: skills, policies, etc. Besides that, DCC is providing the new DMP Online service aimed to produce and maintain Data Management Plans.
Good news is that, despite varying degrees of involvement, institutions in the UK have accepted their role in RDM.

NSF-funded DataNet Projects - US
A summary of present state of research data management in the US was provided by presentations of the DataONE and DataConservancy initiatives, resp. delivered by William Michener (University Libraries at U New Mexico) and Sayeed Choudhury (Johns Hopkins University).

After stating that "researchers are presently using 90% of their time managing data instead of interpreting them", W. Michener presented the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) initiative (a live DataONE presentation at U of Tennessee is available). This NSF-supported initiative aims to ensure preservation and access to multi-scale, multi-discipline, and multi-national science data. DataONE Coordinating Nodes around the world will help achieving needed international collaboration for solving the grand science and data challenges, particularly with regard to education.

The DataConservancy initiative aims to research, design, implement, deploy, and sustain data curation infrastructure for cross-disciplinary discovery with an emphasis on observational data. S. Choudhury's presentation stressed the need for data preservation as a necessary condition for data reuse and introduced the recent connection of data and publications through as one of the pilot projects that build upon the Project APIs.

DFG - Germany
New DFG information infrastructure projects in Germany were presented by Dr Stefan Winkler-Nees, who mentioned both Jan 2009 DFG Recommendations for Secure Storage and Availability of Digital Primary Research Data, as a base report for promoting standardized work in the data management area, and DFG running call for proposals "Information infrastructures for research data". Selected projects at this call are due to be shortly announced and will start on May/Jun'2011. Finally, in a a common line of thought with other initiatives, Dr. Winkler-Nees mentioned DFG is aiming for teaching and qualification of both researchers and data curators.

SURF Foundation & DANS - The Netherlands
Later on along the workshop, John Doove presented the SURF Enhanced Publications initiative within the SURFshare programme 2007-2011. Six new projects funded along 2011 by the SURF Foundation will allow researchers from a variety of disciplines to share datasets, illustrations, audio files, and musical scores with fellow researchers in the context of Enhanced Publications (programme video available on YouTube). There were already two previous grants rounds for Enhanced Publications. The six running projects, whose results are due in May 2011, take place within five disciplines: Economics (Open Data and Publications, Tilburg University), Linguistics (Lenguas de Bolivia, Radboud University Nijmegen, and Enhanced NIAS Publications, KNAW-Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts ans Sciences), Musicology (The Other Josquin, University Utrecht), Communication sciences (Enhancing Scholarly Publishing in the Humanities and Social Sciences, KNAW) and Geosciences (VPcross, KNAW).

The Dutch strategy for increasing research data available online was completed with the presentation "Sustainable and Trusted Data Management" delivered by Laurent Sesink (DANS-Data Archiving and Networked Services). DANS, est. 2005, deals with storage and continuous accessibility of research data in
the social sciences and humanities and promotes the 'Data Seal of Approval' for certification of data repositories, guaranteeing via a series of required criteria a qualitatively high and reliable way of managing research data.

Australian National Data Service (ANDS) - Australia
Finally, Andrew Treloar, Director of Technology, Australian National Data Service (ANDS), supplied a comprehensive perspective from a national infrastructure provider and in a way summarized previous talks by saying that, despite differences, there are common themes emerging in national approaches to data management, as there are things only they can do. Along his plenary presentation "Data: Its origins in the past, what the problems are in the present, and how national responses can help fix the future" he mentioned for instance that Hubble Space Telescope-related publication statistics show double research is being done thanks to data reuse. Efficiency, validation, integrity of scholarly records, value for money and self-interest were listed as (non-altruistic) arguments for data reuse.

Having the chance to attend this series of brilliant presentations and checking out how policies for opening access to research data keep spreading over institutions and countries were undoubtedly part of the Birmingham workshop highlights. Next opportunity for keeping up with it all will be next November at the Knowledge Exchange Workshop on Research Data Management in Bonn, Germany.

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