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Data report challenges IR managers

Data organisationsNobody has asked the question – perhaps it doesn’t need asking after KeepIt course 1 – but why did a course on digital preservation start with organisational issues? Recently a new report was published by the Digital Curation Centre, and I will pick out one section that answers that question:

Data Dimensions: Disciplinary Differences in Research Data Sharing, Reuse and Long term Viability: A comparative review based on sixteen case studies

“In the UK the majority of higher education institutions now have repositories in place, though their use for digital research data curation is very limited at present. The benefit of this route to data curation is that the risk of datasets disappearing over time through lack of care or resources is spread across a whole institution and is, therefore, diminished. Looking after the data outputs of their research community is a key strategic challenge for institutional managers and repository administrators, one that is likely to involve changes in organisational structure and culture. Whether the will, skills and resources necessary exist to meet this considerable challenge within individual institutions remains to be seen, but two initiatives are helping to light the path ahead: JISC’s Digital Preservation and Records Management Programme is funding research projects in this field”

It was noted in discussion during the module 1 that some repositories have scoped and defined coverage. So this is not about prescription, but about keeping an open mind about the relation between the repository and the institution, and how to understand, manage and anticipate that complex and changing axis.

I should also point to Dorothea Salo’s blog on this report, which noted: “It also contains throwaway gems like “It is worth noting that researchers expected their own institutions to be able to provide affordable managed storage, technical support and a preservation facility – but few institutions appear to be able to offer such services at this point.” (p. 10)

We will be coming to those issues later in the course.

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  1. Debra Morris says

    The University of Southampton Library has just started a series of seminars for its own staff on a range of research topics linked to people here at the University. Yesterday (Thursday 11 February 2010), we enjoyed a presentation from Kenji Takeda, Project Lead on the JISC-funded Institutional Data Management Blueprint Project, see:
    The University Library is making a considerable contribution to the Project, benefitting from the partnership working developed between academic groups and liaison librarians in recent years.
    The precise focus of the IDMB Project is the growing concern expressed in Dorothea Salo’s blog posting that few institutions are able to match researchers’ expectations for “managed storage, technical support and a preservation facility”.
    During his talk, Kenji spoke about the IDMB Project’s model of the institution as the rock in the stream – the enduring and consistent entity of the University itself in the context of the rapid change, transformation, not to say turbulence, of the external environment. So, indeed, why wouldn’t researchers turn to their institutional base, for reassurance, security, and preservation?
    There’s a 10 year timeline on the IDMB website: , it shows the evolution over the past 10 years of the EPrints-based activities here at Southampton, so it’s especially pleasing that we are working on data storage and preservation projects here simultaneously.
    Kenji told us yesterday that for IDMB’s training work package, they are working on identifying effective ways to collaborate with scheduled discipline-based training events in the University to support data management with early career researchers and new postgraduates…..maybe we can explore ways to link with our KeepIt course modules as well.

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