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SURA Reports Findings from Data Management Pilot

Thu, 01/09/2014 - 1:06pm
Greg Kubiak, Southeastern Universities Research Association

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After 11 months of review, SURA announced the findings of a collaborative project to explore the capabilities of an open source application that assists with publishing, referencing, extracting and analyzing research data; the Dataverse Network. This pilot implementation of the Dataverse Network software was conducted as part of SURA's larger Research Data Management (RDM) initiative, an on-going collaboration between SURA member library and IT professionals.

"This project has been an excellent example of how collaborative efforts between institutions and groups of library and IT professionals can provide significant value to the SURA membership," said Gary Crane, SURA's Director of IT Initiatives. "This is particularly true for this project given our members' needs to find new ways to manage the explosion of research data in times of constrained resources and increased requirements for sharing that data."

The Dataverse Network (DVN) emerged within the social sciences data community, where it has received widespread adoption. More recently, some organizations have explored the use of DVN as a data repository environment to address data management and data sharing needs in other research domains. This limited test of the DVN software by participating institutions was made possible through the participation of the University of North Carolina's Odum Institute. Odum hosted a shared implementation of the DVN software for this project and provided technical support for the pilot participants.

Recognizing that advances in research data management would greatly benefit from collaboration between institutional research officers, library staff and central IT organizations, SURA teamed with the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASERL) to host a meeting in Spring 2012. That collaboration led to research, IT and library leaders coming together to explore issues and possible solutions to the rapidly increasing demands for improving management of research data.

Months later, a SURA working group produced an institutional "Step-By-Step Guide to Data Management," which identified gaps in existing RDM processes. The group also built a discipline specific metadata scheme directory to assist researchers in finding existing metadata models for their research data. Materials associated with the work of this group are available on the ASERL/SURA RDM WiKi: http://www.lib.ua.edu/wiki/sura/

The effort was originally driven by new requirements from funding agencies and the research communities' needs to effectively manage the ever-increasing size of its data sets. The National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other research sponsors now require a comprehensive data management plan as part of all new funding proposals. Other factors include:

  • Ensuring research integrity and replication and the accuracy and reliability of data and records.
  • Increasing research efficiency.
  • Enhancing data security and minimizing the risk of data loss.
  • Preventing duplication of effort by enabling others to use data.
  • Complying with practices conducted in industry and commerce.

The SURA DVN Pilot Participants included: Florida Institute of Technology; North Carolina State University, University of Alabama, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Florida, George Mason University and Emory University.

This Research Data Management Project is but one of SURA's many scientific and educational collaborations among its member institutions, other leading research universities, and government agencies.

A copy of the 18-page DVN Pilot Project Report is at: http://www.sura.org/news/docs/DVNPilot.pdf

A copy of the guide can be found at: http://sura.org/news/docs/RDMStepGuide101512.pdf

The Dataverse Network is at: http://thedata.org/

For more information visit http://www.sura.org.

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