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Data Reuse Experiences within Digital vs. Physical Zoological Collections
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Data Reuse Experiences within Digital vs. Physical Zoological Collections

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This presentation draws from 27 interviews and 11 observations with zoologists who reuse data and specimens that other people collect. The zoologists were interviewed about recent data reuse …

This presentation draws from 27 interviews and 11 observations with zoologists who reuse data and specimens that other people collect. The zoologists were interviewed about recent data reuse experiences and were observed reusing specimens in a museum setting. Findings from the interviews and observations are presented, including a discussion of how researchers discover and select data for reuse, how researchers know that they can trust data, how researchers prepare to visit a museum, and the ways that researchers interact with museum staff. We find that even in this global age of online databases, people still need to see the actual specimens, and that the condition and depth of a collection is an important factor in selecting specimens for reuse. This study is part of the Dissemination Information Packages for Information Reuse (DIPIR) project. DIPIR is three year Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded project that is examining data reuse in three academic disciplines – quantitative social science, zoology, and archaeology. One of the project’s major objectives is to understand how the context of data production that supports data reuse can best be curated and preserved.

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  • 1. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology (UMMZ), February 20, 2014 Data Reuse Experiences within Digital vs. Physical Zoological Collections Ixchel M. Faniel, Ph.D. Elizabeth Yakel, Ph.D. OCLC Research University of Michigan fanieli@oclc.org yakel@umich.edu The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 2. • Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funded project led by Drs. Ixchel Faniel (PI) & Elizabeth Yakel (co-PI) • Studying the intersection between data reuse and digital preservation in three academic disciplines to identify how contextual information about the data that supports reuse can best be created and preserved. • Focuses on research data produced and used by quantitative social scientists, archaeologists, and zoologists. • The intended audiences of this project are researchers who use secondary data and the digital curators, digital repository managers, data center staff, and others who collect, manage, and store digital information. For more information, please visit http://www.dipir.org The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 3. Research Motivations & Questions 1. What are the significant properties of quantitative social science, archaeological, and zoological data that facilitate reuse? 2. How can these significant properties be expressed as representation information to ensure the preservation of meaning and enable data reuse? The world’s libraries. Connected. Faniel & Yakel 2011
  • 4. The Research Team Nancy McGovern ICPSR/MIT Elizabeth Yakel University of Michigan (Co-PI) William Fink UM Museum of Zoology The world’s libraries. Connected. DIPIR Project Ixchel Faniel OCLC Research (PI) Eric Kansa Open Context
  • 5. The Research Team Nancy McGovern ICPSR/MIT Elizabeth Yakel University of Michigan (Co-PI) William Fink UM Museum of Zoology The world’s libraries. Connected. DIPIR Project Ixchel Faniel OCLC Research (PI) Eric Kansa Open Context
  • 6. Research Methodology ICPSR Open Context UMMZ Phase 1: Project Start up Interviews Staff 10  Winter 2011 4  Winter 2011 10  Spring 2011 Phase 2: Collecting and analyzing user data Interviews data consumers 44  Winter 2012 Survey data consumers Over 1,600  Summer 2012 Web analytics data consumers Observations data consumers 22  Winter 2012 27  Fall 2012 Server logs Ongoing 11 ✓Fall 2013 Phase 3: Mapping significant properties as representation information The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 7. Research Methodology ICPSR Open Context UMMZ Phase 1: Project Start up Interviews Staff 10  Winter 2011 4  Winter 2011 10  Spring 2011 Phase 2: Collecting and analyzing user data Interviews data consumers 44  Winter 2012 Survey data consumers Over 1,600  Summer 2012 Web analytics data consumers Observations data consumers 22  Winter 2012 27  Fall 2012 Server logs Ongoing 11 ✓Fall 2013 Phase 3: Mapping significant properties as representation information The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 8. Agenda • Snapshot of Users • Interviews • Observations • Discussion Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 9. A Snapshot Of 40 Data Reusers 90% 95% reuse data from online repositories and websites reuse data from museums and archives 65% 35% study ecological trends 20% 27.5% are systematists reuse data from journal articles The world’s libraries. Connected. reuse data directly from colleagues
  • 10. The Discovery Process “I am a graduate student at [university], in Zoology and one of my committee members is an adjunct professor here, [name], so she noticed that I had genetic data for the same individuals that U of M has skull data for.” (CAU39) “… we started from that [author] paper and then added to it from other people’s work…So mostly from…reading other people’s papers.” (CAU22) “I knew from prior experience which museums had large collections of material from the part of the world I was interested in.” (CAU19) “…that [aggregator repository] targets so many different collections that once you have access you know pretty much…You can identify very quickly what you need.” (CAU13) The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 11. Selection Criteria Condition of specimen Data coverage Geographic precision Physical variation of the species Results of pre-analysis Matches another dataset Availability of voucher specimen Sequence has been published Location of repository Manner in which the specimen is preserved Availability of metadata Relevant taxonomically Time period specimen collected The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 12. Interviews Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 13. Digital Data Selection Based On Locality …that’s the first filter…looking for specific species. And then for me, yeah, it’s been mostly about the geographic precision of the data, to say whether or not I can use that record for something. (CAU26). Image: Microsoft Clipart …often when it doesn’t meet my needs the most obvious reasons would be there’s just not enough data or it doesn’t cover…Like geographically it doesn’t cover the area I’m interested in well enough (CAU03). The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 14. Digital Data Selection Based On Other Datasets …we decide, okay, these Georeferences have an error that Is probably higher than, let’s say, five kilometers but our climate data is the resolution, the pixel size,…is may be 4.5 kilometers. So, anything that is above that Image: Microsoft Clipart size of pixel that we have, we actually cannot use. (CAU14) I include it [the sequence] in my dataset, do the analyses I’m going to do and then based on the results of those analysis look to see how those data match with the data that I’ve collected. (CAU05) The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 15. Trusting Digital Data “I can sort of qualitatively assess what the quality of taxonomic data might be just by it being, having some mention of the museum record. I know [a] …museum worker who is often... I don't know about an expert in say, my group, but at least has access to the relevant literature to make good taxonomic decisions about those fishes from which they took the tissue.” (CAU02) “I would go back to the literature to look at the paper it came from. I guess there is also to some degree the particular researchers’ that actually produced that sequence; I might actually know their reputations or what they kind of work on and trust it more or less.” (CAU12) The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 16. Trusting Digital Data “A lot of times, it's just a matter of looking at what the Latin name is that they supply because I can't really make a decision based on the information that I'm given. If I had a picture, I could use that when I'm taking into account their ability to identify something. But the main way that I do it is by looking at the geography of where they claim a specimen is located.” (CAU17) “Well, if there's a voucher specimen available then I can request that specimen from the museum where it's housed, re-examine it, confirm or deny that it is that particular species. If the voucher's there and it's the right species, then I have to go with it. If the voucher is not there, and I really question the identification…Because it's unreliable in my mind.” (CAU20) The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 17. Observations Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 18. Specimen Selection Based On Condition “It needs to be intact right? The skull needs to be intact. That isn't in the records usually, and I've gotten used to the idea that you just go and hope for the best, and figure that if they say they have 20, you might find six you could use. That would be a helpful thing to know.” (CAU34) Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 19. Specimen Selection Based On Holotypes For Comparison “[Many] holotypes from the past [are] deposited here in this collection. And then it's really useful to me, and important to make a comparison with those specimens that was the original description when the species already occur in the country. But to do that in the best comparisons, we need to compare morphological data with the new specimens that we already collected in the recent years.” (CAU29) The world’s libraries. Connected. Image: DIPIR Team
  • 20. Deciding To Visit UMMZ “And it's a good-sized collection. Especially in terms of university's collections, there are a lot of specimens here, good taxonomic diversity, and it's also close for us . . . I'm going to the Smithsonian next week, but that's a lot more expensive, a lot more time consuming.” (CAU36) “I think it’s because I was a student here so I know, I knew what was here But I have to say, I worked on my dissertation in the same area, I worked on skull morphology, and so I learned as a graduate student that you go and find the museums that are most likely to have the specimens that you need.” (CAU34) The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 21. How Researchers Prepare For Their Visit To UMMZ “Well, the crucial thing there is getting a copy of the data associated with the specimens that are here…an Excel spreadsheet that gave all the information about the tissues that are held here and the morphological specimens. Using that database, I was able to then select which species we need to study.” (CAU32) Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 22. Interaction With Repository Staff “In this case, I was fortunate to have [UMMZ staff], who took the initiative to go through the collections and find the most well-preserved specimens that he could . . . So, actually looking through the collection that was done by [UMMZ staff] and he brought out the specimens for me to use. So, that aspect was alleviated by the fact that he gave me a lot of help.” (CAU33) Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 23. Discussion Image: DIPIR Team The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 24. Discussion • In global age of online databases people still need to see the actual specimens • Condition and depth of the collection is important • Aggregators vs. museum website vs. inventory system • Having data accessible online is great, but at times it just is not sufficient The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 25. Discussion • The discovery processes are similar but selection criteria are specific to research objectives • Gaining trust in data about the specimen from a distance The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 26. Acknowledgements • Institute of Museum and Library Services • Partners: Nancy McGovern, Ph.D. (MIT), Eric Kansa, Ph.D. (Open Context), William Fink, Ph.D. (University of Michigan Museum of Zoology) • OCLC Fellow: Julianna Barrera-Gomez • Doctoral Students: Rebecca Frank, Adam Kriesberg, Morgan Daniels, Ayoung Yoon • Master’s Students: Jessica Schaengold, Gavin Strassel, Michele DeLia, Kathleen Fear, Mallory Hood, Annelise Doll, Monique Lowe • Undergraduates: Molly Haig The world’s libraries. Connected.
  • 27. Ixchel Faniel fanieli@oclc.org Beth Yakel yakel@umich.edu Questions? http://www.dipir.org The world’s libraries. Connected.