PrePARe: What is 'data'?
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PrePARe: What is 'data'?

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A short presentation to introduce the idea of research data and why looking after data is important. ...

A short presentation to introduce the idea of research data and why looking after data is important.

Notes to accompany the slides will be made available via www.lib.cam.ac.uk/dataman.

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  • [A series of questions for discussion in groups.]
  • One of the first things to consider is what is data?Typically, definitions vary, and may depend on what is being studied. But from when considering data management it is good to take a broad definition. Most people think of ‘things involving numbers’ as data (such as spreadsheets, numerical experimental outputs), but data is far from being limited to just numbers. Examples can include:EmailsVideosAudio files (eg oral history, interviews, focus groups)Websites (including all sorts of sites such as social media sites, as well as established academic sources)Computer source codeIt doesn’t matter what your area of research is, you will be dealing with data in one form or another.
  • That’s why the ‘any information you use in your research’ definition works well for thinking about data management – it makes sure you don’t miss out something important!
  • Digital data are fragile – and can be much more so than physical data such as paper.
  • Digital data are fragile – and can be much more so than physical data such as paper.
  • Losing crucial research material is the stuff of nightmares… but nightmares come true sometimes. This is a genuine poster from a pub in Cambridge [I have only altered the picture to straighten it, change the contrast to make it easier to read, and remove some of the details, eg the address of the pub and the person’s contact information]You might think ‘Ah, but I would take more care of my laptop/external hard-drive/back up disks’ …
  • Losing crucial research material is the stuff of nightmares… but nightmares come true sometimes. This is a genuine poster from a pub in Cambridge [I have only altered the picture to straighten it, change the contrast to make it easier to read, and remove some of the details, eg the address of the pub and the person’s contact information]You might think ‘Ah, but I would take more care of my laptop/external hard-drive/back up disks’ …
  • …but sometimes things are out of your control. Fires in university departments and buildings seem to occur every couple of years (there have been at least two so far this year). If you do most of your work at home, or in a library, then fire, flood or other catastrophe are still risks, and can take a long time to sort out. While you’re busy salvaging what you can and cleaning up, you don’t want to have to worry about whether you’ve lost significant amounts of work and the underlying data for your research. Thinking about good information management will help with this.
  • Data can also be hard to find again when you need them, just because you’re not sure where they are. Having a system in place to look after your data is another way of looking after them.
  • Data can also be hard to find again when you need them, just because you’re not sure where they are. Having a system in place to look after your data is another way of looking after them.
  • When you finish a project, others may want to build on the work that you’ve done. If you’re doing a PhD, maybe a project student or another PhD student will want to reproduce some of your work to learn techniques and then be able to develop them further. Or you might carry on the work as a post-doc. Researchers from different groups, different institutions, or different disciplines, may also be interested in making use of your data. This is something that can enhance your reputation – and it’s much easier to make a good impression when you information is well managed.Which is why you’re here!
  • Looking after your data gives them a life when you’ve finished using them for your own research. This might be something that you want to do, or something that you need to do to fit with requirements posed by your department, university or funding body. Another way to think of it is that the future doesn’t have to be very far away – it could be you looking at earlier research a few months or years after you created it. So you can get tangible personal benefits (if you’re not in an altruistic mood!)

PrePARe: What is 'data'? PrePARe: What is 'data'? Presentation Transcript

  • WHAT IS DATA?(And why you should care)
  • What is ‘data’?• How do you define „data‟?• Does it matter how „data‟ is defined?• What is your data? From „C3PO vs. Data‟ by JD Hancock on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/4617759902/
  • What is ‘data’?“A reinterpretable representation of information in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing.” Digital Curation Centre View slide
  • What is ‘data’?Any information you use in your research View slide
  • Why you should care Reason 1:Data are fragile and easy to lose
  • „data garbage‟ by steffenz on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steffenz/336512756/
  • Storage media are fragile„data garbage by steffenz on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steffenz/336512756/
  • http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2011/08/01/why-you-need-a-data-management-plan/
  • http://blogs.ch.cam.ac.uk/pmr/2011/08/01/why-you-need-a-data-management-plan/
  • What would happen to your data if there was a fire in your office, department or home?“Fire” by andrewmalone via flickr.: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrewmalone/2032844649/
  • „books in a stack (a stack of books)‟ by austinevan on flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/1225274637/
  • Can you find things you know you have when you need them?„books in a stack (a stack of books)‟ by austinevan on flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/austinevan/1225274637/
  • Why you should care Reason 2:Data are part of your (research) legacy
  • „The Eduardo Paolozzi sculpture of Newton at the British Library‟ by dumbledad on flickr : http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumbledad/3372398044/ CC-BY-2.0Send your research into the future!
  • Open Access Teaching Materials for Digital Preservation Produced by Anna Collins (Cambridge University Library) for the JISC-funded PrePARe project (2012)This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.