There seem to be two very important questions that need to be answered when creating a new web resource or tool; what colour is it going to be and what shall we call it?
The first is often resolved by a quick staff poll overruled by the one person who isn’t colour blind, or the one who is acknowledge to have a modicum of taste. The second is a different matter.
We have recently played host to two colleagues from the Netherlands. Data Archiving and Networked Services, DANS, is an organisation well known to many of you; they have worked at the forefront of digital preservation for many years and have deservedly built a reputation as one of the leaders in the field. DANS have pipped us to the post in establishing an online tool for the submission of archives by practitioners. DANS’ Electronic Archiving SYstem, or ‘DANS EASY’, allows upload of research data into the DANS servers in a structured fashion, associating the deposited files with the appropriate metadata and incorporating access management and licensing into the process too.
The similarities to the tool that we have been developing in the SWORD ARM project are so strong that we couldn’t help appropriating part of the DANS name. And so ‘ADS easy’, ADS’ e-archiving system, has been born.
We think that the younger sibling has managed to evolve a little though and can boast a couple of additional useful limbs; a charging module and an area to sort and organise your archive which helps in selecting, and deleting, those files that may not add to the archive and also allows for a more ordered way of creating metadata.
We plan to demonstrate ‘ADS easy’ to project partners at a workshop in August … I hope they like the colour!
I had recently had the opportunity to attend an event organised by the team at the Leeds University RoaDMaP project, another of the projects funded under the JISC Managing Research Data Programme 2011-13. The event brought together staff from the Universities of the White Rose consortium (the Universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield) to discuss their experiences. The three partners are all a slightly different points in developing research data management services and they all had slightly differing experiences to bring to the table.
While I was able to give a brief overview of the SWORDARM project, most of the presentations during the day concentrated on the policies and procedures surrounding engagement with the academic community regarding data management. Both the presentations and the subsequent break out groups gave rise to a number of important issues which face the institutions.
• The size of the challenge
Some participants were concerned by the size of the challenge ahead. While this should in no way be underestimated, there are organisations and institutions that can help. Already the suite of NERC data centres (including the ADS), the UK Data Archive, STFC, the UK Hydrographic Office and GenBank, to name but a few, have between them decades of experience in providing specialist repository functions for research data. Individual institutions don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but they do need to get to grips with a pretty complex landscape of disciplinary based services.
• How open is Open?
I also wondered how institutions would approach the question of access to data held in repositories. How would this be interpreted? Would an institution feel that research outputs should be primarily available to their own research group, more widely within their own institution, or freely available to all? These questions would have to be framed within the expectations of the funding councils, but whatever the outcome it will have an impact on how institutional repositories manage their collections and plan to mediate them with their potential users.
It was an interesting day.