I was struck by a comment in the panel abstract and want to pick up on that over the next few minutes - The pressure on academics to manage, document, share and preserve their data is not balanced by incentives, support or mechanisms for them to do so. I’ll highlight some of those requirements and then look at what’s starting to emerge in terms of infrastructure and support for data management, ending on the questions this raises about what we need to do next.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (a forum of mainly EU democracies) issued some guidelines and principles on access to publicly-funded research data in 2007. The essence is that as this research is funded by the public purse, it should be accessible to and benefit the public. Codes of good research conduct (like that by Research Councils UK) make statements that data should be preserved and for how long. Many funders have data archiving and data sharing policies, noting the requirement to plan for data management, share data and curate it in the longer-term. The Sherpa Juliet registry and DCC work note these. Many other groups are advocating for data management, sharing and open data… and are driving this change
One of the main requirements from UK Research Funders is the submission of data management and sharing plans at the grant proposal stage. They typically want to know five things (see above). Important as it’s bringing data management to the fore (the start of the lifecycle) and also because this is taking on significance in other countries too - National Science Foundation in US recently brought in a DMP requirement.
What’s happening at the coalface? Here are 3 quotes from researchers that raise questions about the feasibility of implementing the policies… Don’t know what to do – what is best practice? Data sharing good in principle but how do you overcome the emotional investment. Policies need to show some appreciation of the human side to all this. Researchers don’t necessarily want to manage data, they want to do research, so policies need to take this into account – define who’s responsible and ensure they’re equipped to undertake that work.
So, the flip side – what support is there to help researchers meet all these requirements? There is some support and advocacy through data centres, national libraries, universities, representative bodies and community initiatives, but... Much of this is funded on a project basis (predominantly JISC in the UK, EU does a lot through FP programmes (currently FP7) supporting projects like DL.Org and Planets) but the support and infrastructure needs to be co-ordinated and sustainable – how do we achieve this on short-term funding? More question marks around incentives – much still to be developed. Will you get promoted, get more funding or get recognition…
Finding the right balance Sarah Jones [email_address] Funded by: This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 UK: Scotland License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.5/scotland/ ; or, (b) send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Pressure to manage and share data OECD declaration data are a public good and should be openly available RCUK code of good research conduct data should be preserved and accessible for 10 years + E Funders’ data policies E Advocacy
Researchers’ reactions… “ I feel like I’m winging it at present… you don’t quite know what’s really required: it’s not just making data available - to be public it has to be in the right format and annotated.” “ It’s hard to overcome your personal investment… it’s like giving away your baby” “ People bring in sticks with four gigabytes of data on that simply no longer work – and nothing can be done to retrieve it.”
Support for data management data centres and national archives / libraries representative bodies / co-ordination university repositories, advisory bodies, community initiatives… funded projects and incentives? £ promotion ? ? ? ?