Moderator: Kathleen Shearer, Canadian Association of Research Libraries
Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Center (UK) [ SLIDES ]
Charles K. Humphrey, Head of the Data Library, University of Alberta [ SLIDES ]
Gail Steinhart, Research Data and Environmental Sciences Librarian, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University [ SLIDES ]
Open Data and the role of research libraries to develop unique and valuable services
In the United Kingdom, the Digital Curation Center is a partnership between the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Bath that provides training, tools, online services, events and policy guidance on open data issues. Kevin Ashley, director of the DCC, discussed institutional awareness and the curation lifecycle model. Here’s an update on the landscape in the U.K.
- Many institutions are now willing to tackle research data management in the U.K. as and institutional role. Typically, libraries are at the forefront. However, there is a critical skills gap that must be dealt with by re-training. A key activity of the DCC is to provide that training. In the long-term, there is a push to embed data management training for post-graduate researchers so the next generation is prepared to manage their research outputs.
- Data Management Planning has different emphases in different disciplines from engineering to history to the social sciences. A DPM online tool has been developed by the DCC that provides a checklist designed to provide a plan for the long-term use of data.
- The UK Research Data Service provides a collaborative strategy and national coordination for data centers centres, libraries, archives, develop shared services. It helps grow skills, focus expertise and work with funders on costing and where should responsibility lie.
- The UK is considering a new plan to use a cloud infrastructure for research, service and data. A cloud could help institutions deal with research data management problems by capturing data at an early stage and encourage data transfer and collaboration.
While much of the attention is often given to large-scale data sets, Gail Steinhart from Cornell University talked about small-scale data sets being worthy of attention. She is the research data and environmental sciences librarian at Albert R. Mann Library.
Here’s a glimpse at Cornell’s experience:
- About 80 percent of awards by NSF in 2007 were for small scale data sets. Some say these data sets are vulnerable and it makes sense to try to preserve them so they don’t vanish.
- The data staging repository emerged from needs of researchers who were looking for a place to share data in controlled fashion, as a means of collaboration and to meet grant requirements. Users can log in, create a data set, indicate who you want to share with and where you’d like to published. The conceptual model has both has metadata and data, with the intention to enhance reusability.
- To develop their open data skills, a grassroots discussion group meets monthly at Cornell and varies from formal speakers to an open discussion about data sources, emerging issues in e-science. They even do role playing sessions to practice talking to faculty members about data to hone their pitch.
- Cornell has formed a partnership with Syracuse University to offer a mentoring program for students studying e-librarian to host group events and exchange news.
In Canada, there is not a national institution dedicated to the preservation of data. There were two major studies that made a strong case for such an institution and progress is being made, according to Charles K. Humphrey, head of the Data Library at the University of Alberta since 1992. He has worked on several regional, national and international initiatives to increase access to and preservation of research data.
Some highlights of the data landscape in Canada:
- Data are at risk and a comprehensive framework for cooperation and coordination to mange the risks to preservation of digital data is missing. Currently, the landscape is very patchwork with various layers of data sources largely unconnected. The next step in the evolution of digital repository strategies should be an explicit development of partnerships to form a national data management infrastructure.
- When talking with faculty members and partners, the emphasis should be on access because preservation is neither grasped nor seen as captivating. To help acquire and shape data, focus on the need for immediate, mid-term and long-term access.
- In Canada, the OAIS reference model is being used to frame relationships among data repositories. Rather than operating in silos, unrelated to each other, the institutions consider how they take digital repository functions and distribute them across the network. For instance, one institution will gather data from project for ingest; others will form a preservation backbone; still others will serve as dissemination points for data.
- The network of data repositories is now moving to operate in a community cloud rather than in separate centers. This allows cross-institutional research projects to facilitate team research. The services within the cloud will support the functions of repurposing, access, curation, preservation, and submission. Since there was no political will to start a new institution in Canada, directors within existing research libraries are working together to establish a national platform.