Monday, 27 October 2008

Institutional and National Research Data Management Services

Last week the second event organized as part of the Scoping Digital Repository Services for Research Data Management project took place at the Said Business School. The aim was to hear about examples of services to support researchers with their data management duties and encourage discussion amongst service units in Oxford. We had a great group of speakers coming from: 
  • San Diego Super Computer Data Central, 
  • the UK Research Data Service, 
  • the Digital Curation Centre, 
  • the UK Data Archive, 
  • the NERC Environmental Bioinformatics Centre, 
  • the Archaeology Data Service and 
  • Oxford Legal Services. 
Throughout the day a wide range of services were described including infrastructure and tools for storage, access, discovery, use or preservation as well as services related to support, advice and training starting as early as possible in the research lifecycle.  The final panel discussion between some of the service units in Oxford evidenced the need for coordination and funding to provide the range of support services that Oxford researchers need. 

Saturday, 11 October 2008

iPres'08 and DCC Digital Curation 101 Course

In the last couple of weeks I have attended the iPres 2008 conference at the British Library and theDCC Digital Curation 101 course at NeSC. Both events have been great to learn more about latest developments, tools and concepts on digital preservation and data curation.

iPres 2008 has been widely commented in other blogs such as the DCC's and Neil Beagrie's. I particularly liked the keynotes from both days.  Lynne Brintley ,CEO British Library, highlighted the increasing maturity of the digital preservation field,  called for join up of pieces of the big jigsaw and for a different label like 

digital life or preservation for long-term access. The second day's keynote brought Dr Horst Forster, from the European Commission, who  argued that “less than 20% of UK organizations have preservation as per legal requirements and 50% still print the documents to preserve them” and ensured that the European Commission will continue to fund activities in this area.

Some of the tools that called my attention included JHOVE 2 and PRONOM. The former helps to identify, validate and characterize digital objects whilst the latter is a format registry. The Danish Data Archive DANS presented their Data Seal of Approval, a collection of guidelines for producing data future-proof.  It was also of interest to see some presentations touching on issues around collaboration between advanced computational science and digital preservation services (see: Data Center for Library of Congress Digital Holdings and The Chronopolis Digital Preservation Archive and Demonstration). 

The DCC Digital Curation 101 course combined an excellent set of lectures and hands-on exercises provided 

by leading experts. The sessions were structured using the stages of the DCC Curation Lifecycle Model: 

  • conceptualize, 
  • create&receive, 
  • appraise&select, 
  • ingest&store, 
  • preserve, 
  • access&reuse.  

During the four days the course lasted, the lectures covered the previous stages pointing out the issues present and highlighting the importance of early (in the lifecycle) collaboration between researchers, information professionals and IT specialists. The hand-on sessions allowed us to:
  • use some sample data sets to identify their significant properties, 
  • practice using the Data Audit Framework, 
  • look at data quality issues and assessed file format robustness,  
  • find and use data from the British Atmospheric Data Centre, 
  • create a detailed data management plan putting in practice everything learnt during the course.
The course was brilliantly organized and delivered. There was the perfect mixed of researchers, information professionals and IT specialists. Perhaps in the future the course could focus on specific disciplines but I really hope there will be more. 

Thursday, 2 October 2008

QUT's Practical Data Management Guide

Queensland University of Technology has just published "Practical Data Management: A Legal and Policy Guide". This is a very useful resource for researchers and repository managers with an interest in managing legal rights in data.

The guide provides a detailed introduction to copyright covering what it protects, who owns it and how is relevant for data available in digital repositories.  It then considers other legal aspects of data management such as moral rights, confidential information and privacy. After looking at data management policies that all research projects should have in place, it covers what data management plans (DMP) should cover :

  • ownership of the data to be generated
  • who is responsible for managing the data
  • address the legal controls applying to collection or use of the data 
  • security to protect the data collected
  • the long-term preservation of the data
It is highlighted that " [a] data management plan will need to be consistent with the research institution's IP policies and data management policies"