Dealing With Data 2018: Summary reflections

The annual Dealing With Data conference has become a staple of the University’s data-interest calendar. In this post, Martin Donnelly of the Research Data Service gives his reflections on this year’s event, which was held in the Playfair Library last week.

One of the main goals of open data and Open Science is that of reproducibility, and our excellent keynote speaker, Dr Emily Sena, highlighted the problem of translating research findings into real-world clinical interventions which can be relied upon to actually help humans. Other challenges were echoed by other participants over the course of the day, including the relative scarcity of negative results being reported. This is an effect of policy, and of well-established and probably outdated reward/recognition structures. Emily also gave us a useful slide on obstacles, which I will certainly want to revisit: examples cited included a lack of rigour in grant awards, and a lack of incentives for doing anything different to the status quo. Indeed Emily described some of what she called the “perverse incentives” associated with scholarship, such as publication, funding and promotion, which can draw researchers’ attention away from the quality of their work and its benefits to society.

However, Emily reminded us that the power to effect change does not just lie in the hands of the funders, governments, and at the highest levels. The journal of which she is Editor-in-Chief (BMJ Open Science) has a policy commitment to publish sound science regardless of positive or negative results, and we all have a part to play in seeking to counter this bias.

Photo-collage of several speakers at the event

A collage of the event speakers, courtesy Robin Rice (CC-BY)

In terms of other challenges, Catriona Keerie talked about the problem of transferring/processing inconsistent file formats between heath boards, causing me to wonder if it was a question of open vs closed formats, and how could such a situation might have been averted, e.g. via planning, training (and awareness raising, as Roxanne Guildford noted), adherence to the 5-star Open Data scheme (where the third star is awarded for using open formats), or something else? Emily earlier noted a confusion about which tools are useful – and this is a role for those of us who provide tools, and for people like myself and my colleague Digital Research Services Lead Facilitator Lisa Otty who seek to match researchers with the best tools for their needs. Catriona also reminded us that data workflow and governance were iterative processes: we should always be fine-tuning these, and responding to new and changing needs.

Another theme of the first morning session was the question of achieving balances and trade-offs in protecting data and keeping it useful. And a question from the floor noted the importance of recording and justifying how these balance decisions are made etc. David Perry and Chris Tuck both highlighted the need to strike a balance, for example, between usability/convenience and data security. Chris spoke about dual testing of data: is it anonymous? / is it useful? In many cases, ideally it will be both, but being both may not always be possible.

This theme of data privacy balanced against openness was taken up in Simon Chapple’s presentation on the Internet of Things. I particularly liked the section on office temperature profiles, which was very relevant to those of us who spend a lot of time in Argyle House where – as in the Playfair Library – ambient conditions can leave something to be desired. I think Simon’s slides used the phrase “Unusual extremes of temperatures in micro-locations.” Many of us know from bitter experience what he meant!

There is of course a spectrum of openness, just as there are grades of abstraction from the thing we are observing or measuring and the data that represents it. Bert Remijsen’s demonstration showed that access to sound recordings, which compared with transcription and phonetic renderings are much closer to the data source (what Kant would call the thing-in-itself (das Ding an sich) as opposed to the phenomenon, the thing as it appears to an observer) is hugely beneficial to linguistic scholarship. Reducing such layers of separation or removal is both a subsidiary benefit of, and a rationale for, openness.

What it boils down to is the old storytelling adage: “Don’t tell, show.” And as Ros Attenborough pointed out, openness in science isn’t new – it’s just a new term, and a formalisation of something intrinsic to Science: transparency, reproducibility, and scepticism. By providing access to our workings and the evidence behind publications, and by joining these things up – as Ewan McAndrew described, linked data is key (this the fifth star in the aforementioned 5-star Open Data scheme.) Open Science, and all its various constituent parts, support this goal, which is after all one of the goals of research and of scholarship. The presentations showed that openness is good for Science; our shared challenge now is to make it good for scientists and other kinds of researchers. Because, as Peter Bankhead says, Open Source can be transformative – Open Data and Open Science can be transformative. I fear that we don’t emphasise these opportunities enough, and we should seek to provide compelling evidence for them via real-world examples. Opportunities like the annual Dealing With Data event make a very welcome contribution in this regard.

PDFs of the presentations are now available in the Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA). Videos from the day will be published on MediaHopper in the coming weeks.

Other resources

Martin Donnelly
Research Data Support Manager
Library and University Collections
University of Edinburgh

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Research Data Service highlights to report: August to December 2016

Research Data Service

New Research Data Service Website

The Research Data Service’s redesigned website was released in December.  The new website is more accessible and includes new and updated content in support of RDM. The new website can be visited at http://www.ed.ac.uk/information-services/research-support/research-data-service

RDM Forum Meetings

There were two RDM forum meeting held during the autumn term (7 September and 23 November). This is part of a collaborative effort that Çuna Ekmekcioglu (L&UC) and Jacqueline McMahon and Ewa Lipinska (College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) organised to invite staff from CAHSS and other Colleges and Schools to meet and have discussions about RDM activities, and how these can be supported. There were almost 25 people in attendance for each meeting with another one scheduled for 28 March 2017.

A RDM forum SharePoint site has also been created to accommodate RDM resources including papers, presentation slides, work flow diagrams, guides and a collection of sample data management plans.

Visits

The Research Data Service welcomed visitors from seven universities during the autumn term with two visits from Kyoto University.

The purpose of their visits was to learn more about the services and resources we provide in support of research data management at the University of Edinburgh. The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and senior IS staff also participated during some of the visits, which included meetings, presentations and tours.

  • Nanyang Technological University: 3 – 4 August
  • University of Auckland: 14 September
  • Kyoto University (National Institute of Informatics): 26 September
  • Malmö University: 10 – 11 October
  • University College Cork: 21 September
  • John Hopkins University: 21 September
  • Kyoto University (Kyoto University Library): 26 October
  • University of Malaya: 22 November

Data Management Planning

DMPonline had 57 new registered users and was used to create 115 data management plans (DMPs); in total, 256 DMPs were created in 2016.

There were 25 data management plan consultations from August to December.

Data Management Support

MOOC and MANTRA

A total of 1,817 learners enrolled for the 5-week RDMS MOOC rolling course from August to December, with a total of 5,466 learners enrolled for the year (2016); the MOOC started in March 2016.

2016 concluded with 22,544 MANTRA sessions recorded for the year, slightly lower than in 2015, when MANTRA had 22,950 sessions.

Active Data Infrastructure

DataStore

Active users remained consistent throughout the 2016 year with data stored on a steady rise. There was a natural decline over the summer break, which has been observed in previous years.

In 2016, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) activity was distinct from other Colleges with a spike in usage.

DataSync

DataSync usage includes the following stats that were reported at the end of 2016:

  • Number of active users: 1,740
  • Number of distinct clients (IPs 2017): 5,423
  • Total DataSync storage: 3TB
  • Number of mappings to DataStore areas: 294

Data Stewardship

Pure

In 2016, 326 Pure records for datasets were created, which surpass the number of records created in 2014 (31) and 2015 (32).

DataShare

202 datasets were deposited into DataShare.

DataVault

DataVault closed the year with 21 deposits for 2016. There was a soft release of DataVault in February 2016 and plans are to commit resources to DataVault so that there can be a release in mid 2017.

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EDINA’s ShareGeo Open content into DataShare

Many fascinating datasets can be found in our new ShareGeo Open Collection: http://datashare.is.ed.ac.uk/handle/10283/2345  .

This data represents the entire contents of EDINA’s geospatial repository, ShareGeo Open, successfully imported into DataShare. We took this step to preserve the ShareGeo Open data, after the decision was taken to end the service. Not only have we maintained the accessibility of the data but we also successfully redirected all the handle persistent identifiers so that any existing links to the data, including those included in academic journal articles, have been preserved, such as the one in this paper: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10393-016-1131-y .

Similarly, should the day ever arrive when DataShare was to be closed, we would endeavour to find a suitable repository to which we could migrate our data to ensure its preservation, as per item 13 of our Preservation policy.

We were able to copy the content of almost all metadata fields from ShareGeo to DataShare. The fact both repositories use the Dublin Core metadata standard, and both were running on DSpace, made the task a little easier. The University of Edinburgh supports the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative. DataShare’s metadata schema can be found at https://www.wiki.ed.ac.uk/display/datashare/Current+metadata+schema setting out what our metadata fields are and which values are permitted in them.

Our EDINA sysadmin (and developer) George was very helpful with all our questions and discussions that took place while the team settled on the most appropriate correspondence between the two schemas. The existing documentation was a great help too. George then produced a Python script to harvest the data, using OAI-PMH to get a list of ShareGeo items, then METS for the metadata and bitstreams. He then used SWORD to deposit them all in DataShare.

The team took the opportunity to use DSpace’s batch metadata editing utility and web interface to clean up some of the metadata: adding dates to the temporal coverage field and adding placenames and country abbreviations to the spatial coverage field, to enhance the discoverability of the data.

For example “GB Postcode Areas” can be found using the original handle persistent identifier: http://hdl.handle.net/10672/51 as well as the new DOI which DataShare has given it – DOI: 10.7488/ds/1755. Each of the 255 items migrated to our ShareGeo Open Collection contains a file called metadata.xml which contains all the metadata exactly as it was when exported from ShareGeo itself. I have manually added placenames in the spatial coverage field (which was used differently in ShareGeo, with a bounding box i.e. “northlimit=60.7837;eastlimit=2.7043;southlimit=49.8176;westlimit=-7.4856;”). Many of these datasets cover Great Britain, so they don’t include Northern Ireland but do include Scotland, England and Wales. In this case I’ve added the words “Scotland”, “England” and “Wales” in Spatial Coverage (‘dc.coverage.spatial’), even though these are already implicit in the “Great Britain” value in the same field, because I believe doing so:

  • enhanced the accessibility of the data (by making the geographical extent clearer for users unfamiliar with Great Britain) and…
  • enhanced the discoverability of the data (users searching Google for “Wales” now have a chance of seeing this dataset among the hits).

James Crone who compiled this “GB Postcode Areas” data is part of EDINA’s highly renowned geospatial services team.

Part of James’ work for EDINA involves producing census geography data for the UK DataService. He has recently added updated boundary data for use with the latest anonymised census microdata (that’s from the 2011 census): see the Boundary Data Selector at https://census.ukdataservice.ac.uk/get-data/boundary-data .

Pauline Ward is a Research Data Service Assistant for the University of Edinburgh, based at EDINA.

Detail from GB Postcode Areas data, viewed using QGIS.

Detail from GB Postcode Areas data, viewed using QGIS.

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Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: May to July 2016

The following key results were highlighted in the RDM Programme Progress Report:

  • There were 42 new users and 69 data management plans created with DMPOnline.
  • An additional 1.5PB has been procured for DataStore’s general capacity expansions.
  • The Roslin Institute has deposited 16 datasets into Data Vault.
  • DataShare upload release (2.1) went live on 23 May 2016.
  • There are now 334 dataset records in PURE, an increase of 124 records from the last reporting period (February to April 2016).
  • 54 datasets have been deposited into DataShare.
  • The University of Edinburgh was recommended as a preferred supplier on the Framework for the Research Data Management Shared Services for Jisc Services Ltd (JSL) for the following Lots:
  • Lot 2: Repository Interfaces
  • Lot 3: Data Exchange Interface
  • Lot 6: Research Data Preservation Tools Development
  • Lot 8: User Experience Enhancements
  • A total of 390 staff and postgraduates attended RDM courses and workshops during this quarter.
  • A total of 3,649 learners enrolled for the 5-week RDMS MOOC rolling course from March through July, 2016 and a total of 461 people completed the course in the same time frame.
  • There were 5,198 MANTRA sessions recorded from May to July with 58 to 60 percent identified as new users.
  • Set up an RDM Forum in collaboration with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Research Officer and Research Outputs Co-ordinator. The first RDM forum is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 September 2016.

Data Management Planning highlights

We currently hold sample data management plans for grant applications submitted to the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

 Active Data Infrastructure highlights

DataStore

An additional 1.5PB has been procured for general capacity expansions. This capacity will primarily be deployed to the College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine (CMVM) and the College of Science & Engineering (CSE).

MRC Institute of Genetics & Molecular Medicine (IGMM) has purchased an additional 1.2PB of capacity, and this is now deployed in their dedicated file system.

Data Stewardship highlights

DataShare

The large data sharing investigation was completed for DataShare and reported previously. Upload release (2.1) went live on 23 May 2016. Download release planned following ‘embargo release’ and ShareGeo spatial data migration.

Data Vault

There was a soft release of Data Vault in February 2016, with the Roslin Institute depositing 16 datasets during this quarter.

PURE

There are now 334 dataset records in PURE, an increase of 124 records from the last reporting period (February to April 2016).

Research Data Discovery Service (RDDS)

Two PhD interns are working on School engagement activities (dataset records into PURE / datasets into DataShare) for Divinity & Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine; contracts end 16 September 2016. One PhD intern retrospectively added DataShare metadata to PURE for data deposits prior to PURE Data Catalogue functionality; contract to end 16 September 2016. A fourth PhD intern (to work with School of Informatics) is awaiting for approval.

Data Management Support highlights

A total of 390 staff and postgraduates attended RDM courses and workshops during this quarter.

Other related research data management support activities to highlight

  • Working with sensitive data in research’ guide was written for research staff and students in social sciences.
  • Another guide is being written on ‘Sharing and retaining data’ for research staff and students in social sciences.
  • Set up an RDM Forum in collaboration with College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) Research Officer and Research Outputs Co-ordinator. The first RDM forum is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 September 2016.

Other activities to highlight

The outcome of Jisc RDM Shared Services bid that was submitted in March 2016

The Procurement Panel has recommended University of Edinburgh as a preferred supplier on the Framework for the Research Data Management Shared Services for Jisc Services Ltd (JSL) for the following Lots:

  • Lot 2: Repository Interfaces
  • Lot 3: Data Exchange Interface
  • Lot 6: Research Data Preservation Tools Development
  • Lot 8: User Experience Enhancements

Unfortunately, the Procurement Panel has decided not to recommend University of Edinburgh for the following Lots:

  • Lot 1: Research Data Repository
  • Lot 4: Research Information and Administration Systems Integrations

National and International Engagement Activities

From May to June

Çuna Ekmekcioglu gave a talk on ”Understanding and overcoming challenges to sharing personal and sensitive dataat the Recon: Research Communication & Data Visualisation Conference, 24th June 2016, The Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI).

Stuart MacDonald and Rocio von Jungenfeld ran three workshops for the IS Innovation Fund project, Data-X: Pioneering Research Data Exhibition, with PhD students from across the University. Introduction to Data-X: Pioneering Research Data Exhibition.

In June

Stuart MacDonald presented peer-reviewed presentation to IASSIST conference, Bergen: Supporting the development of a national Research Data Discovery Service – a Pilot Project.

Robin Rice presented a poster at Open Repositories 2016, Dublin: Data Curation Lifecycle Management at the University of Edinburgh.

Pauline Ward presented a lightning talk at Open Repositories 2016, Dublin:  Growing Open Data: Making the sharing of XXL-sized research data files online a reality, using Edinburgh DataShare.

Stuart MacDonald was an invited speaker at NFAIS (National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services) Fostering Open Science Virtual Seminar: NFAIS Fostering Open Science Virtual Seminar.

In July

Robin Rice gave two presentations (invited and peer-reviewed) at LIBER 2016, Helsinki: University of Edinburgh RDM Training: MANTRA & beyond; Designing and delivering an international MOOC on Research Data Management and Sharing.

Robin Rice filled in for Stuart Lewis as invited speaker for JISC-CNI 2016, London: Managing active research in the University of Edinburgh.

This is the last quarterly report as the Research Data Management (RDM) Roadmap Project (August 2012 to July 2016) came to a close on 31 July 2016.

There will be discussions with the RDM Steering Group to decide how future reporting will be conducted. These reports will be released on the Research Data Blog as well.

Tony Mathys
Research Data Management Service Co-ordinator

 

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