Research Data Workshop Series 2019

Over the spring of 2019 the Research Data Service (RDS) is holding a series of workshops with the aim of gathering feedback and requirements from our researchers on a number of important Research Data topics.

Each workshop will consist of a small number of short presentations from researchers and research support staff who have experience of the topic. These will then be followed by guided discussions so that the RDS can gather your input on the tools we currently provide, the gaps in our services, and how you go about addressing the challenges and issues raised in the talks.
The workshops for 2019 are:

Electronic Notebooks 1
14th March at King’s Buildings (Fully Booked)

DataVault
1200-1400, 10th April at 6301 JCMB, King’s Buildings, Map
Booking Link – https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34308
The DataVault was developed to offer UoE staff a long-term retention solution for research data collected by research projects that are at the completion stage. Each ‘Vault’ can contain multiple files associated with a research project that will be securely stored for an identified period, such as ten years. It is designed to fill in gaps left by existing research data services such as DataStore (active data storage platform) and DataShare (open access online data repository). The service enables you to comply with funder and University requirements to preserve research data for the long-term, and to confidently store your data for retrieval at a future date. This workshop is intended to gather the views of researchers and support staff in schools to explore the utility of the new service and discuss potential practicalities around its roll-out and long-term sustainability.

Sensitive Data Challenges and Solutions
1200-1430, 16th April in Seminar Room 2, Chancellors Building, Bioquarter, Map
Booking Link – https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34321
Researchers face a number of technical, ethical and legal challenges in creating, analysing and managing research data, including pressure to increase transparency and conduct research openly. But for those who have collected or are re-using sensitive or confidential data, these challenges can be particularly taxing. Tools and services can help to alleviate some of the problems of using sensitive data in research. But cloud-based tools are not necessarily trustworthy, and services are not necessarily geared for highly sensitive data. Those that are may not be very user-friendly or efficient for researchers, and often restrict the types of analysis that can be done. Researchers attending this workshop will have the opportunity to hear from experienced researchers on related topics.

Electronic Notebooks 2
1200-1430, 9th May at Training & Skills Room, ECCI, Central Area, Map
Booking Link – https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34287
Electronic Notebooks, both computational and lab-based, are gaining ground as productivity tools for researchers and their collaborators. Electronic notebooks can help facilitate reproducibility, longevity and controlled sharing of information. There are many different notebook options available, either commercially or free. Each application has different features and will have different advantages depending on researchers or lab’s requirements. Jupyter Notebook, RSpace, and Benchling are some of the platforms that are used at the University and all will be represented by researchers who use them on a daily basis.

Data, Software, Reproducibility and Open Research
1100-1430, 21st May at G03, Bayes Centre Central Area, Map
Booking Link – https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34309
In this workshop we will examine real-life use cases wherein datasets combine with software and/or notebooks to provide a richer, more reusable and long-lived record of Edinburgh’s research. We will also discuss user needs and wants, capturing requirements for future development of the University’s central research support infrastructure in line with (e.g.) the LERU Roadmap for Open Science, which the Library Research Support team has sought to map its existing and planned provision against, and domain-oriented Open Research strategies within the Colleges.

Kerry Miller
Research Data Support Officer
Library & University Collections

Share

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

Share

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.

Share

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.

Share