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Data Visualization Support Roles

Hello IASSISTers,

Since our last entry, the Data Visualization Working Group (DVIG) has been connecting through email to gather information and share knowledge about data visualization tools, best practices, teaching, and events of interest. A major theme of conversation has been open source programming frameworks like R statistical packages to conduct visualization.  Many other non-programming tools have also been discussed and shared. The question of tools is not an easy one, and there are a lot out there!

For a list of tools (not comprehensive) see: DVIG Tool list (opens in Pearl Trees)

What are we doing with visualization?

Some members are considering licensing software for their institutions, including licensed software such as Tableau (http://www.tableausoftware.com/). Others are considering adding visualization features to existing data repositories or portals, while others are considering these for upcoming data collections and repository development. A discussion about the creation of a blog series related to experiences with different repository software has been mentioned, as well as, a list of criteria for discerning between licensed software and repository systems. Many are concerned about the scalability of tools and are interested in the application of visualization techniques across disciplines and groups.

Now, there are a lot of ways to visualize data. The following diagram describes the process of creating and making sense of visualizations, and might be helpful for our discussions and understanding.

Process – Information Workflow

 

Taken from: Aisch, Gregory. Using Data Visualization to Find Insights in Data. Data Journalism Handbook, Open Knowledge Foundation. http://datajournalismhandbook.org/1.0/en/understanding_data_7.html . 2014-07-11.

Regardless of where we are at, we are all in agreement that data visualization is COOL! And it needs support. Unfortunately the skills needed to perform data visualization and “data wrangling” projects are not taught widely in higher education, however, some institutions have made strides to develop these core skills and training and others are now developing curriculum. 

Here is a short list of current courses and teaching materials:

University of Washington, Data Visualization (winter 2014)

New York University, Certificate in Data Visualization

Columbia University, Data Visualization

University of Kansas, Managing Research Data in the Social Sciences (incl data wrangling) (summer 2014)

University of British Columbia, Information Visualization

University of Toronto, Big Data Analytics (fall 2014)

A major theme at this past IASSIST Conference was data support roles. Data visualization topics such as R programming package, developing library support services, teaching tools and undergraduate pedagogy, current research, were very well attended. The IASSIST community is engaged in Data Visualization at almost all stages of the process workflow (see above).

Libraries can play an important role in supporting researchers…

Libraries serve as an ideal place on campus to support visualization for a number of reasons. Data visualization is a truly interdisciplinary activity seeing a growing importance in a wide variety of fields. Even the techniques involved draw on diverse fields from statistics to computer science to design. As such an interdisciplinary field and on that benefits so many diverse fields, visualization has a natural home in the library. Rather than individual disciplines developing support, knowledge and tools for visualization these advances can be shared across campus by making the library a central point of visualization activities.

Furthermore, providing support for data visualization in the library can amplify other data related activities. As libraries increasingly move to collecting, managing and preserving complex datasets offering services that can assist in making sense of that data will make it all the more valuable. Moreover, visualization services provide additional opportunities to inform researchers of support for research and data within libraries.

Data Viz at University of Michigan Libraries

At the University of Michigan we are in the process of developing our services to support visualization. Historically our support for data visualization has developed in two different parts of the library. Both our 3D Lab (part of our Digital Media Commons group) and our Spatial and Numeric Data Services (SAND – Part of the Clark Library for Maps, Government Information and Data Services) have supported and continue to support various types of data visualization, mapping and working with complex types of data. In SAND, where I am located, we focus primarily on helping researchers, students and faculty through consultations where we teach people techniques and how to use appropriate software rather than producing finished products. While we all have our favorite pieces of software we attempt to balance our patron’s familiarity and the most effective software for their goals. We also offer open workshops and course instruction on various data visualization and mapping topics.

While we would ideally like to be able to support the entire spectrum of data visualization activities, one of the most challenging aspects of supporting visualization is providing a scalable service or at least supporting a variety of scales to best benefit one’s campus. Providing consultations around producing graphs and charts for presentations and publications seems easily within the scope and scale of traditional library consultations, but providing production services and assisting with large scale projects such as the creation of interactive web environments or visualizing terabytes of data often requires more time and effort that we usually have to devote to individual projects. Still, libraries, in providing a space for whatever assistance is possible and helping researchers and students understand the resources required for a given project, can offer an invaluable service to our campus communities.

Supported projects at the University of Michigan:

19th Century Acts - http://19thcenturyacts.com/

Mapping Moby Dick - http://record.umich.edu/articles/technology-meets-literature-students-map-classic-novel

 

Many thanks for all the collaboration on the DVIG list, 

Amber Leahey (University of Toronto) & Justin Joque (University of Michigan)

IASSIST 2014 conference song

Topic:

Sung to the tune of Gordon Lightfoot's  "If You Could Read My Mind"; thanks to San, Paula, Bill, and Vince for their suggestions, and Vince, Dan and Kate for helping to drown out my own voice :) If anyone has a video version of this, send me the link, so I can add it here:


If you could read my data
What a tale these points would tell
At Toronto's IASSIST 40
Data folk began to dwell
At the hockey game
We began to meet
With colleagues and old friends
These meetings never end
Aligning data with infrastructure of research is what it's all about

If you were at this IASSIST
Many fantastic talks you heard
All of the sexy specialists
Seemed to tweet on what they heard
When you reached the talk 'bout the data dude
The seating was all gone
The tweeting would go on
We don't want the talks to end
Because excitement's just too hard to fake

Chuck walked away with the plenary
When the speaker didn't show
Improv -- way to go!
IASSIST's big tent will cover everyone who works with data now
We will show them how
The Steam Whistle banquet was great
Where we could get more beer with tickets
Myron's talk went slightly wrong, his script was gone but he managed to get it back

If you could read my hashtag
You'd have seen some tweets galore
How Justin Hayes raps data
Declare variables not war
Robin's free at last, 'cause her session's done
And Bit Rot Bitter's cool
The tweeting never ends
If you read the twitter feed
You soon will see the many things we do
The talent's always there
We always seem to feel this way
And we've got to say that we really get it
The only thing that seems so wrong
Is the long time before we meet again.


IASSIST SIGDMC Annual Report 2013-2014

By Carol Perry & Stefan Kramer, co-chairs
Last updated: 2014-05-29 by CP

  • The major activity of the Data Management & Curation Interest Group (SIGDMC) in the last year was the conceptualization, organization, submission, and offering of the June 2, 2014, morning workshop Data Management & Curation: Lessons from Government, Academia, and Research. It features seven invited presenters, and session and breakout group moderators from the SIGDMC membership, which also provided input on the breakout group topics.
  • As of May 26, 2014 SIGDMC membership is at just under 70, having been fairly steady over the year in terms of Google Group membership.  
  • The Data Management and Curation Resources page on the IASSIST website has been reviewed and updated. The list now contains 59 resources;  9 new resources were added since May 2013. Minglu Wang, Limor Peer and Wendy Mann are responsible for this resource. 
  • Progress was made in keeping the IASSIST blog active, however, we did not quite meet our goal of one blog per month. 
  • The members who attend the annual IASSIST conference in Toronto have been invited to participate in an in-person meeting on June 4, where the election outcome of the successor of Carol Perry as co-chair will first be announced, and future goals for the group be discussed.

Research Data Management Issues Across Environments

Lots of conversations going on these days in different venues where people are asking many of the same questions:  how do we teach researchers about data management with limited staff, and what data management services should we offer?  How do we find sustainable ways to manage data that leverage the efforts of many different repositories, those in government, institutions and disciplinary ones?  How do we coalesce standard practice and reasonable but effective policies at at least the national level and preferably on a global scale?  What roles should governments play?  How much can we as data professionals accomplish on our own?  The Data Management and Curation SIG will host a workshop to talk about these and other issues across different countries and environments next Tuesday. Our speakers will include:

  • Dan Gillman, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • Marcel Hebing, DIW Berlin
  • Chuck Humphrey, University of Alberta
  • Steven McEachern, Australian Data Archive
  • Barry Radler, Institute on Aging, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Robin Rice, EDINA and Data Library at the University of Edinburgh
  • Kathleen Shearer, Confederation of Open Access Repositories and Research Data Canada

Looking forward to seeing many of you in Toronto!

Michele Hayslett, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill & Stefan Kramer, American University

One week to IASSIST 2014!

Topic:

It’s a week to go until IASSIST 2014 begins! (If you haven’t registered yet, better get to it!) Here are a few things you might like to know before you get here:

  • If you haven’t looked at them yet, please peruse the “How to get here” and “Local information” pages on the conference website
  • under ‘Visitors’ on the top menu (where you can find a map-based guide to Toronto attractions);

    • How to get here” lists ways to get to the downtown core from the airport;
    • Local information” has links to maps, information on how to get around Toronto, links to weather information from Environment Canada, plus links to guides to restaurants and drinking establishments in and around town.
    • If you’re a baseball fan, the Toronto Blue Jays are playing home games on June 1, 6, and 7; see the June schedule for details.
    • if, at any point, you want to pick up some groceries, there's a huge grocery store -- right next to the Mattamy Centre (site of the Tuesday reception) -- known as Loblaws at Maple Leaf Gardens; check out the 'Wall of Cheese"!
    • if your taste runs to reading, there's an Indigo store (Canada's major bookstore chain) about 10 min from the conference hotel by foot, on Yonge St.

As far as food and drink go, the variety you'll find in the city, even restricted to the downtown area, is nothing short of remarkable; there's even a multicultural food court just down the street from the conference venue. Later this week we'll be adding to the above links a personal guide to eating and drinking establishments prepared by one of our volunteers.

Your Local Arrangements Committee and volunteers will do our best to ensure you have a pleasant and productive stay in Toronto. Please let us now if you have any specific questions. We look forward to greeting you next week for IASSIST 2014!

New 'Special Issue' IQ now available!

Editor’s notes

Special issue: A pioneer data librarian

Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect papers relating to the work of Sue A. Dodd. Margaret Adams (Peggy) acted as the guest editor and the background and content of this volume is described in her preface to this volume on the following page. As editor I want to especially thank Peggy and Libbie for pursuing and finalizing their excellent idea. I also want to thank all the authors that contributed to produce this volume. As one of the authors I can witness that Peggy did a great job.

Articles for the IASSIST Quarterly are always very welcome. They can be papers from IASSIST conferences or other conferences and workshops, from local presentations or papers especially written for the IQ. When you are preparing a presentation, give a thought to turning your one-time presentation into a lasting contribution to continuing development. As an author you are permitted “deep links” where you link directly to your paper published in the IQ. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is also much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the session participants, and will be readily available on the IASSIST website at http://www.iassistdata.org.

Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:
http://iassistdata.org/iq/instructions-authors

Authors can also contact me via e-mail: kbr@sam.sdu.dk. Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor(s) I will also be delighted to hear from you.

 

Karsten Boye Rasmussen

April 2014

Editor

IASSIST Africa Regional Report 2013-2014

Freeing African Data

Two regional developments have the potential to get African government data into the public domain. Putting their disaggregated data out there can benefit African governance through ensuring transparency and allowing feedback from policy analysis to support better government planning. The World Bank’s Central microdata catalog has been around since 2012 and continues to expand its listing of data sources. This is currently the only comprehensive online source for microdata produced by African official data producers, as a listing of country datasets is not available on most African government websites.

While the World Bank project supports improve data discovery, a second donor project aims for more Open Government Data. The Accelerated Data Program is an OECD project to make African government data more accessible. This project works to install data dissemination software with government data producers such as ministries and statistics offices. Currently data is available from statistics offices in several countries which are using this platform. These include Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Tunisia.

The ADP also trains data managers in African National Statistics Offices. While data expertise is necessary to leverage national data resources data curation training projects are scarce in African countries. In 2013-2014 the ADP ran data management training workshops in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, and ADP trainers teamed up with staff from the University of Cape Town’s Data Service to conduct data curation training workshops in Botswana, Lesotho, and Rwanda.

Another move towards Openness is the establishment of a Research Data Centre at the University of the Cape Coast in Ghana.  This will make Ghanaian data more widely available to local researchers and to the wider research community. Currently Ghanaian data can be purchased from the government data producer, which may keep out researchers from poorly-resourced institutions. The University of Cape Town in South Africa and the University of Michigan in the US are working with University of Cape Coast staff to support data curation best practice at the new centre, with funding from University of Michigan’s African Social Research Initiative.

African Universities Managing their Data Assets

The University of Cape Town in South Africa has been engaged Research Data Management policymaking in 2013-2014. IASSIST member Lynn Woolfrey and a team from the University Library undertook a University data needs survey and a scoping study of policies of other universities and completed a report and draft policy document which will be built on by Stakeholders at the University to produce a university-wide policy for managing research data into the future. The policy will ensure the University is in forefront of what will become standard practice at universities in the future.

African Data Conferences

5th African Conference for Digital Scholarship and Curation was held in Durban, South Africa, in June 2013.  The Conference brought together data experts from African countries under the theme of Research data in the advance of education, research, and innovation. IASSIST’s Lynn Woolfrey gave a presentation on data curation best practice at a post-conference workshop organised by South Africa’s Network of Data and Information Curation Communities (NeDiCC).

The first Isibalo data users’ conference was organised by Statistics South Africa at the University of Stellenbosch in Stellenbosch, South Africa, in July 2013. The Conference was an opportunity for feedback on the relevance of South African data for academia and local government decision makers and augers well for future producer-user interactions around data quality issues.

The annual eResearch Africa Conference was held in Cape Town, South Africa in October 2013. Under the banner ICT Enabling Research presenters from Australia, the UK, and African countries discussed eResearch projects and brain-stormed future e-Research strategies. IASSIST member Lynn Woolfrey presented research undertaken on data accessibility for research on Africa.

IASSIST Fellows 2014

The IASSIST Fellows Committee is glad to announce through this post the four recipients of the 2014 IASSIST Fellowship award. We are extremely excited to have such a diverse and interesting group with different backgrounds and experience and encourage IASSISTers to welcome them at our conference in Toronto, Canada.
Please find below their names, countries and brief bios:

Antonin Benoit, Head Librarian at the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning. Dakar, Senegal.

"As the head Librarian I am the manager of our Online Database called IDEP document server (http://www.unidep.org/library). We provide via this tool an access to bibliographical and textual references. In another hand I am the a focal point of IDEP to work with African Centre of Statistics (ACS) to compile an Inventory of all existing data resources in my Institute. The ACS is a division of UNECA and it is located in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). I am then devoted to provide data used for statistical analysis and publications in the Existing Data Resources of UNECA (http://ecastats.uneca.org/cdsr/). I am also very familar with metadata standards like MarcXML and Dublin Core that I use frequently in my job through our Document server. My main objective is to make our Institute the first African Library catalog to enter the Open Linked Data project. So, attending the IASSIST conference could improve my capacities on data management, because my initial professional background is Librarianship and I still have some weaknesses on data management"

Fei Yu, Acting Manager of Research Data Collections  at the University of Queensland Library. Brisbane, Australia.

"Fei has gained a wide range of experience in academic libraries including bibliometrics and research data management.  She was recently successful in being appointed as Manager, Research Data Collections.  This has involved drafting  the Research Data Management Procedures which will underpin the University of Queensland Research Data Management Policy that was approved at the end of 2013.  She is involved in promoting best practice in data management for all of UQ and has established a wide range of Data Information Literacy training courses for UQ researchers and ensuring that their research data collection metadata is accurate and available on the institutional repository - UQ eSpace.  She is presently rolling out the online data management tool (based on the UK Digital Curation Center (DCC) tool) university wide to ensure that all university researchers and research students have an easy and accessible tool to create their data management plans.  The Research Data Collections team lead by Fei created the Research Data Management Guide  - a one stop shop – containing detailed information on all aspects of data management.  Fei also works collaboratively with the University's Research Computing Centres and the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure to ensure that staff are aware of the many data storage options. "

Aileen O'Carroll, Policy Manager of the Digital Repository at the Digital Repository of Ireland. Dublin, Ireland.

"I am currently Policy Manager of the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI). DRI is a newly established national organisation (the project was established in September 2011) whose remit is to link together and preserve the rich and varied cultural, historical, and qualitative social science data held by Irish Institutions. It will be a central access point to this digital data and provide multimedia tools to research and interact with archived data. My role requires me to have a thorough understanding of international best practice in licensing frameworks, digitisation policy, archival management, and an understanding of the different needs and perspectives of a wide range of stalk-holders and users. It is of key importance that this emerging national infrastructure is aligned both with European and International best practice along with practice and policy already in place in a diverse field of Irish cultural, educational and social scientific organisations."

Winny Nekesa, Senior Library and Documentation Officer at the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority. Kampala, Uganda.

"Winny Nekesa Akullo obtained a Bachelors degree in Library and Information Science in 2003, Postgraduate Diploma in Demography in 2014 from Makerere University and finalized her thesis for the  Masters Degree in Information Science. Before joining the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority as a Senior Library and Documentation Officer in 2014, she worked as an Information Officer/Librarian at Uganda Bureau of Statistics where she was in charge of information management and data dissemination and was spearheading the establishment of a UBOS Digital Library and a School Senior Librarian. She has international training and exposure in establishing digital libraries, preservation and construction and application of information systems. She is the Country Coordinator of the International Librarians’ Network, Publicity Secretary, Uganda Library and Information Association and the General Secretary, Uganda Textbook-Academic and Non-Fiction Authors’ Association.  Her area of expertise is digital preservation and data dissemination. Currently her main research interests are information retrieval, digital preservation and open access repositories. She presented at the 2013 IASSIST Conference “Establishing a National Statistical Information Repository in Uganda; Challenges and Opportunities”  she got a lot of exposure, and new ideas about data and information management. This year, I hope to gain more information which I can apply to my new institution especially in the area of data management which is still virgin."

New IASSIST Quarterly now available!

Editor’s notes

Special issue: The organizational dimension of  digital preservation

Welcome to the special double issue 3 & 4 of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ) volume 36 (2012). This special issue addresses the organizational dimension of digital preservation as it was presented and discussed at the IASSIST conference in May 2013 in Cologne, Germany.

The two guest editors Astrid Recker and Natascha Schumann from the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne have earned special thanks. If you find their names familiar it is because they co-wrote a paper in the IQ 36-2. They are concerned with data preservation and curation at the Data Archive for the Social Sciences, and as a member of the Archive and Data Management Training Center, Astrid also trains others in these areas. Furthermore, they co-chaired the  panel on ‘Beyond Bits and Bytes: the Organizational Dimension of Digital Preservation’ at IASSIST 2013, both also participating as panelists in the session. They have now persuaded the other panelists to contribute to this combined special issue. Thanks also therefore to Michelle Lindlar, Stefan Strathmann and Achim Oßwald, and Yvonne Friese.

Articles for the IASSIST Quarterly are always very welcome. They can be papers from IASSIST conferences or other conferences and workshops, from local presentations or papers especially written for the IQ. Authors are permitted “deep links” where you link directly to your paper published in the IQ. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is also much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the session participants, and will be readily available on the IASSIST website at http://www.iassistdata.org.

Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:http://iassistdata.org/iq/instructions-authors.
Authors can also contact me via e-mail: kbr@sam.sdu.dk.

Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor(s) I will also be delighted to hear from you.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen

January 2014

Editor

Feedback on Data Storage

I posted the following question to the listserv:

"I'm in the early days of exploring what I and our library can do for our faculty and grad students. In my case I'm particularity interested in the social sciences.

It seems there are three main choices:

1. ICPSR(or other domain-specific site)

2. Dataverse with my own school's branding

3. Local, campus funded storage through an Institutional Repository or something else that can handle larger amounts of data.


Our university is kind of in the vast middle
as far as flagship state universities go in budgets and research activity.

What are the pros and cons of these archiving choices? What would best suit a non-wealthy institution? Which requires more training and expertise?"

From the very informative feedback I received from my IASSIST colleagues, I concluded that it is best to keep open to all kinds of possibilities. I was probably naïve in my initial hope that there would be one solution on which I could train my energies. However that is not the case. Different solutions may be best for different factors, including the data in question, local staff skills,  and library budgets.

There were many voices that supported the domain-specific repository idea represented by ICPSR. Researchers can get exposure to colleagues in their areas of expertise. There is no need to reinvent the wheel if the expertise and the longevity that ICPSR can provide are out there. In addition, ICPSR is launching “openICPSR,” a new open access repository for researchers and institutions that need to comply with Federal requirements to make data publicly available.  Data deposited in "openICPSR" will be discoverable in the ICPSR catalog, but not restricted to ICPSR members -- anyone will be able to download.  ICPSR staff will edit the metadata appearing in the catalog, and depositors can commission full curation of their collections (e.g. full codebooks, variable-level metadata for searching) by ICPSR staff. In addition to accepting individual projects, openICPSR will also offer packages to meet institutional needs.  They are planning at least two options: 1) A multiple deposit option whereby an entity can purchase several project deposits (fees will be discounted for member institutions), and 2) A branded repository page that will list datasets under an institution's own logo and color scheme.

Many others outlined the Dataverse picture. If you can get a good match between what your campus needs and what Dataverse can provide, this can be a crucial part of an overall solution.  Dataverse has ease of entry through a self-service deposit structure, not to mention that the price is right (free)! Many institutions are starting with pilot projects in order to assess the labor impact on the library. A few librarians noted that there are issues of long-term storage, sustainability, and metadata uniformity that can arise with Dataverse.

Some respondents hastened to add that Dataverse will be offering improved services.  Dataverse is extending support for additional metadata standards in various scientific domains including biomedical ontologies, astronomy and updating to DDI codebook 2.5 (in the future, support for DDI Lifecycle). They are also extending the search, data exploration and analysis for tabular datasets (with histograms, cross-tabs, enhance descriptive stats, model selection). In addition they are also extending Data/Metadata API and data deposit API, and rich ingest for additional data types. 

Local solutions, including formal Institutional Repositories (IRs) and other storage services through a variety of campus resources did not emerge as a popular topic in the posts I received. One librarian commented on the resources in personnel and money that may be needed in IRs to deliver strong service for larger deposits.

Steve McGinty

Social Sciences Librarian

University of Massachusetts - Amherst

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