Research data management issues for data centres
Research is producing ever larger and more complex data to be handled. Research infrastructure providers have an important role in helping data to be effectively managed and shared in order to get the maximum benefit of this valuable and unique property.
The best way to ensure sharing and re-use of data is to create ways and services to help researchers easily publish, access, archive and use the data. All this development should be done in close co-operation with data producers and owners in order to meet the needs of the research community.
The permanent access to research data is a challenge and therefore archiving data in a sustained manner and long-term preservation are important issues for infrastructure providers. Many infrastructure providers offer training and advice to ensure more efficient research and use of the built infrastructures.
Progress to date
Several infrastructure providers in different countries are aiming to support good research data management practices by promoting a culture of sharing, increased access and visibility of research data.
Data Archiving and Networked Srvices (DANS) is a Dutch infrastructure provider that encourages researchers to archive and reuse data in a sustained manner through the online archiving system EASY. To ensure that archived data can still be found, accessed and used in the future, DANS has developed the Data Seal of Approval. For more information please visit the website www.datasealofapproval.org.
The National Research Data Project (TTA) in Finland was launched by the Ministry of Education and Culture to set up a service solution for research data storage (IDA), to support the production of metadata by creating a shared data catalogue/search engine, and to work towards a long-term preservation solution together with the National Digital Library. The research data services are built by CSC – IT Center for Science and will be part of a national research infrastructure service package for researchers.
ANDS aims to enable Australia's research data to be transformed by creating partnerships with research and data producing agencies through funded projects and collaborative engagements, delivering national services such as Research Data Australia and Cite My Data, providing guides, building communities of practice and building the Australian Research Data Commons.
German GESIS offers a unique package of services to accompany the entire research data cycle. The goal of re3data.org is to create a global registry of research data repositories. The registry will cover research data repositories from different academic disciplines. re3data.org is funded by the German Data Foundation DFG.
The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) provides expert advice and practical help to anyone in UK higher education and research who wants to store, manage, protect and share digital research data. The DCC has produced a how-to guide and series of case studies on developing Research Data Management services.
SIM4RDM Guidance and Resources
As part of its evidence gathering work package, SIM4RDM produced a landscape study of interventions for improving data management skills, support and capacity. One section of the online survey that informed the study targeted national bodies with research data management responsibilities. A total of 18 organizations took part in the survey.
Nearly 40% of the respondents reported that their country has a national body for coordinating research data management activities. In 70% of cases, they are financed by government. Other sources of funding mentioned are research institutes and research funders of private companies. Most of the national bodies are project organisations.
The most important tasks of national bodies are coordinating access to tools and materials, the long-term preservation of research data, sharing practices, supporting research funder policies, and creating data infrastructures.
The study recommends that national bodies:
Take the lead in drafting Codes of Conduct outlining responsibilities and good practice. Codes of Conduct may guide the decisions or procedures followed by individual researchers or research institutions in the area of data management. They could also initiate or structure debates about adequate practices and models in a broader European context;
Suggest and supply appropriate tools and best practices. Appropriate tools that already exist in some European countries could be adapted to prevent national bodies from re-inventing the wheel;
Play an active role in standardising regulations and procedures and defining conventions for data citation;
Are established with clearly defined tasks regarding the co-ordination of research data management activities at national level. When the creation of national bodies is not possible, clear processes for liaising with pan-European research data management organizations should be in place.