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Data-related webinars available

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The North Carolina Library Association's Government Resources Section runs a webinar series. In addition to having some data-related webinars on YouTube, our upcoming August webinar may be of interest to IASSIST members.

Help! I’m an Accidental Government Information Librarian presents ... Accessing Datasets for the Data Curious

The Government Resources Section of the North Carolina Library Association welcomes you to a series of webinars designed to help us increase our familiarity with government information. All are welcome because government information wants to be free.

Directing patrons to subscription repositories of data like ICPSR and Roper is a useful service that any reference librarian can learn to do. But can the generalist take data-seeking patrons just a little bit further before referring to the data librarian? This webinar will help the generalist or subject librarian learn ways to help patrons download data successfully, use documentation to explore the relevance of a dataset to answer a question, and alert patrons to common pitfalls and patterns. Participants will learn strategies to apply their librarian expertise for finding and accessing information to the rarified realm of datasets.

Presenter Kristin Partlo is the Reference & Instruction Librarian for Social Science and Data at Carleton College in Minnesota. She has been helping undergraduates find and evaluate data for over ten years and especially enjoys looking for connections between research data services and other areas of librarianship. Her MA of LIS is from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

We will meet for Session #49, online on Wednesday, August 12 from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Eastern). Please RSVP for the session by August 12 at 10:00 am using this link:

Technical requirements: We will be using collaborative software called Blackboard Collaborate. It requires that you be able to download Java onto your computer, but you do not need any special software. After you RSVP, we will send you a link that you can use to test the software. If you have any questions, please contact Lynda Kellam ( You do not need a microphone as a chat system is available in the software, but you do need speakers or headphones.

We make recordings available on our website ( and our YouTube channel (

Linda Kellam

Looking Back/Moving Forward - Reflections on the First Ten Years of Open Repositories

Open Repositories conference celebrated its first decade by having four full days of exciting workshops, keynotes, sessions, 24/7 talks, and development track and repository interest group sessions in Indianapolis, USA. All the fun took place in the second week of June. The OR2015 conference was themed "Looking Back/Moving Forward: Open Repositories at the Crossroads" and it brought over 400 repository developers and managers, librarians and library IT professionals, service providers and other experts to hot and humid Indy.

Like with IDCC earlier this year, IASSIST was officially a supporter of OR2015. In my opinion, it was a worthy investment given the topics covered, depth and quality of presentations, and attendee profile. Plus I got to do what I love - talk about IASSIST and invite people to attend or present in our own conference.

While there may not be extremely striking overlap with IASSIST and OR conferences, I think there are sound reasons to keep building linkages between these two. Iassisters could certainly provide beneficial insight on various RDM questions and also for instance on researchers' needs, scholarly communication, reusing repository content, research data resources and access, or data archiving and preservation challenges. We could take advantage of the passion and dedication the repository community shows in making repositories and their building blocks perfect. It's quite clear that there is a lot more to be achieved when repository developers and users meet and address problems and opportunities with creativity and commitment.


While IASSIST2015 had a plenary speaker from Facebook, OR had keynote speakers from Mozilla Science Lab and Google Scholar. Mozilla's Kaitlin Thaney skyped a very interesting opening keynote (that is what you resort to when thunderstorms prevent your keynote speaker from arriving!) on how to leverage the power of the web for research. Distributed and collaborative approach to research, public sharing and transparency, new models of discovery and freedom to innovate and prototype, and peer-to-peer professional development were among the powers of web-enabled open science.
Anurag Acharya from Google gave a stimulating talk on pitfalls and best practices on indexing repositories. His points were primarily aimed at repository managers fine-tuning their repository platforms to be as easily harvestable as possible. However, many of his remarks are worth taking into account when building data portals or data rich web services. On the other, hand it can be asked if it is our job (as repository or data managers) to make things easy for Google Scholar, or do we have other obligations that put our needs and our users first. Often these two are not conflicting though. What is more notable from my point of view was Acharya's statement that Google Scholar does not index other research outputs (data, appendixes, abstracts, code…) than articles from the repositories. But should it not? His answer was that it would be lovely, but it cannot be done efficiently because these resources are not comprehensive enough, and it would not possible for example to properly and accurately link users to actual datasets from the index. I'd like to think this is something for IASSIST community to contemplate.

Open Researcher and Contributor ID (ORCID) had a very strong presence in OR2015. ORCID provides an open persistent identifier that distinguishes a researcher from every other researcher, and through their API interfaces that ID can be connected to organisational and inter-organisational research information systems, helping to associate researchers and their research activities. In addition to a workshop on ORCID APIs there were many presentations about ORCID integrations. It seems that ORCID is getting close to reaching a critical mass of users and members, allowing it to take big leaps in developing its services. However, it still remains to be seen how widely it will be adopted. For research data archiving purposes having a persistent identifier provides obvious advantages as researchers are known to move from one organisation to another, work cross-nationally, and collaborate across disciplines.

Many presentations at least partly addressed familiar but ever challenging research data service questions on deposits, providing data services for the researcher community and overcoming ethical, legal or institutional barriers, or providing and managing a trustworthy digital service with somewhat limited resources. Check for example Andrew Gordon's terrific presentation on Databrary, a research-centered repository for video data. Metadata harmonisation, ontologies, putting emphasis on high quality metadata and ensuring repurposing of metadata were among the common topics as well, alongside a focus on complying with standards - both metadata and technical.

I see there would be a good opportunity and considerable common ground for shared learning here, for example DDI and other metadata experts to work with repository developers and IASSIST's data librarians and archivists to provide training and take part in projects which concentrate on repository development in libraries or archives.

Keynotes and a number of other sessions were live streamed and recorded for later viewing. Videos of keynotes and some other talks and most presentation slides are available already, rest of the videos will be available in the coming weeks.

RDA Congratulates IASSIST on Successful Conference


RDA Congratulates IASSIST on Successful Conference

Earlier this month, several members of the Research Data Alliance had the pleasure of attending and participating in the 41st IASSIST Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  With the theme “Bridging the Data Divide: Data in the International Context,” the conference provided an ideal venue for us to exchange perspectives with attendees on numerous data-related challenges and trends as well as share recent accomplishments of the RDA.

We were intrigued by the presentation of Steven Ruggles, Director of the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, which covered the U.S. Census’ role in data innovation and the Minnesota Population Center’s project to connect census data. Curtiss Cobb, manager at Facebook, was impressive during his discussion detailing Facebook’s approach in evaluating and aggregating publicly available data to conduct in-depth analyses. In the presentation covering the implementation of an open data policy in Minneapolis, Andrew Johnson, city councilor, clearly demonstrated the importance of government’s role in ensuring the accessibility of data to the public.

RDA’s two panel sessions titled “First Products of the RDA” were also well received.   Several of our members introduced RDA’s recently released products, which include:

•    A terminology query tool, already adopted by DataFed and CLARIN, which ensures researchers use common terminology when referring to data.
•    A data type model and registry that provides machine-readable and researcher-accessible registries of data types that support the accurate use of data.  
•    Machine-actionable policies and templates to enable best practices in data management and interchange between communities
•    A Prototype Metadata Standards Directory describing hundreds of metadata standards in an editable and transparent system with full version control.  

For more information on these and other RDA products, view RDA’s brochure titled “Research Data Alliance Outputs.”
Overall, with an agenda encompassing plenaries, workshops and various meetings, the IASSIST conference did an excellent job in covering numerous data-related topics that impact the social sciences as well as numerous other disciplines. We look forward to participating in future IASSIST events and working with the organization to continue to raise awareness on the importance of data sharing and exchange.

Yolanda Meleco, RDA-US Communications Manager
Mary Vardigan, Chair, RDA DSA-WDS Partnership Working Group on Repository Certification

Brief IASSIST conference wrap up


These are my brief notes from the sessions I was able to attend and take notes (a few times I was unable to stay in a session because of questions elsewhere). I would suggest looking at the twitter feed if you are interested. We had a new member taking sketch notes during the conference, which were quite popular. Also Laurence Horton from LSE took very detailed Google Doc notes and wrote a great blog post.

Day 1 kicked off with a fantastic plenary by Steve Ruggles from the conference host, Minnesota Population Center (MPC). His talk focused on the development of the Census over time. His main argument was that the Census Bureau (CB) played a tremendous role in developing innovative technology and data collection methods during the early years through the mid-twentieth century, but that the more recent Census years have seen stagnation and a loss in the CB's leadership. While depressing at points, Ruggles highlighted a few collaborations between the CB and the MPC that are promising such as the Census Longitudinal Infrastructure Project (CLIP).

I chaired a session entitled Training Data Users. King-Hele discussed training efforts at the UK Data Archive. Primarily they have concentrated on in-person workshops, but they have also started creating webinars and training guides/videos. I'm looking forward to checking some of these out during my summer! Katharin Peter at the Univ of Southern California talked about supporting data-related assignments. Her univ had a competitive grant program for faculty to encourage the creation of these assignments in conjunction with instructional designers and Katharin as the data librarian. Although USC was able to offer significant grant amounts, I think faculty could be encouraged with much lower amounts at other schools. Another incentive could be the creation of communities of practice where faculty can share and learn. They will eventually create a repository of data assignments but that is in the early stages. Finally Kristin Eschenfelder and her team from Univ of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) closed out our session.  They used the IASSIST journal, IQ, to analyze connections between Social Science Data Archives over time. Using historical network analysis they were able to track the interactions between the different archives and funding agencies. It is a really interesting project and I can't wait to see where they go with more data. They were also part of our new paper track and were required to submit a paper in advance, which anyone can access. They also won the first paper award prize.

The plenary for day 2 was a bit controversial, but we meant it that way. We had Curtiss Cobb, head of the Population and Survey Sciences Team at Facebook, talk about Facebook's interest in the digital divide in the developing world and its initiative They have also been acquiring third party data to inform their research, so Curtiss discussed his evaluative framework for acquiring data. Again, Laurence has more notes on the specifics of the talk. While there were questions about Facebook's "altruistic" intentions, I enjoyed having an outside perspective on social science data and its use.

I also attended a fabulous session with the Minnesota Population Center on their various data programs. So much goodness in this one. They talked about their products from the old standbys like IPUMS-USA and IPUMS-International to newer products like Terra Populus, which integrates environmental and population data. The one I am really excited about for my history graduate work and haven't used much is the North Atlantic Population Project. With our Atlantic World focus at UNCG, it seems that this could be popular.

One of my favorite sessions brought together geospatial data and qualitative data specialists, two areas that are increasingly popular in libraries. Andy Rutkowski formerly of USC talked about combining GIS methods with qualitative data especially archival information. It was a really nice discussion of the more theoretical aspects of these techniques. In addition, Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh talked about her analysis of job postings related to qualitative data support in libraries. She found that it is an under-supported area. You can read more about her project soon in the edited volume Databrarianship: The Academic Data Librarian In Theory And Practice, coming to a library near you in Fall(ish) 2015.

The last session I could attend was Training Data Users II David Fearon and Jennifer Darragh from Johns Hopkins talked about training for de-identifying human subjects in data sets. This is a really cool and extremely specialized service, but one that I am sure lots of faculty would welcome with the new sharing requirements. They developed their workshop information from a training session offered by ICPSR. They have some handouts, but I couldn't get the URL down in time. I will add when it is available.

Finally, we closed out with a plenary talk by Andrew Johnson (no, not that Andrew Johnson) on Politics of Open Data. He is a city council ward representative for Minneapolis and was one of the creators of What We Pay For, a website that tracks federal government spending and connects your salary to actual government expenditures. He talked about his interest in providing open data access and the political roadblocks he encountered along the way. Great way to end a conference all about data!

The presentation, poster, and pecha kucha PowerPoints are being collected now. We will make them available as possible, but unfortunately there may be a delay. If you are interested in any particular presentation, get in touch with me and I can send you more information. Overall it was definitely the best IASSIST ever.

iassist 2015: the conference song!


Here it is, at long last - the words to the 2015 IASSIST conference song! Thanks to: Melanie Wright for her excellent guitar work, singing, and help with lyrics; Lisa Neidert, for lyric ideas; and the self-proclaimed Data-ettes (Daniel Edelstein, Joanne Webb, Kakia Chatsiou, Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh, Victoria Mitchell), for their enthusiasm and wonderful work singing the choruses. A link to a video will be added once someone informs me of its existence!

WE ARE IASSIST (to the tune of "Little Red Corvette", by Prince)

I guess we should have known,
The Minnesota crew would always put on a show
The theme for this year's conference
Bridging the data divide
Would tell where we'd go

Tweets were coming out now, workshops were so great,
They told us what we should know
Then it was Tuesday night, beginning IASSIST right
We said "Now it was time to go"

(And then we all say)

We're at IASSIST!
It will go much too fast
Now it's IASSIST!
Data nerds will make it last

Wednesday sessions started,
The rain began as well and it never seemed to stop;
Census nerds heard stories, goats & sheep were heard too,
The quality never dropped.

At the business meeting,
Tuomas was our new prez; we saw the donut chart;
Then it was poster session time, and more discussion time,
Food & drink to make us smart.

(Now we all say)

More of IASSIST!
Bill and Bo see the Stones
It's still IASSIST!
Tweets make us feel we're not alone.

Facebook’s maximising profit or altruistic bridging
the divide in the Internet?
Challenges for training, ideas for curation
Constructive arrogance and more yet.

Using web cam data, lying metadata authors
Pechachkas were the best
Wine data, pie, it’s always better with cats,
Bergen surprised with trolls and metal death.

(We say)

Banquet time IASSIST!
Celebrate on the right bank;
Dancing at IASSIST!
That page was purposely left blank ...

Friday's protein breakfast
Coffee, cake, and Danish, the day was then in our hands;
Training data users, challenges of linking,
Using data management plans

Our plenary speaker told us
Open Data Geeks have unfair advantages
More sessions make us wise, now it’s closing wrap-up time,
What an amazing conference it was!


That was IASSIST!
It was the best one ever,
Next year's IASSIST
See you all in Bergen next year!

IASSIST 2015: Blog Post from a Data Librarian in Minneapolis


“Hey Charlie I'm pregnant and living on 9th Street”. Wait. I don’t know anyone called Charlie. I’m not pregnant and this isn’t 9th Street. I’m living in a dorm room at University of Minnesota contemplating how I managed to end up back in dorm living before succumbing to assisted living. The reason? IASSIST 2015.

What follows is my take on this Aquarian Explosion: 3 Days of Data & Music.

By the time we got to Minnesota we were a couple of hundred strong. Stardust, golden and superbly organised by the Minnesota Population Centre (MPC), who managed to book a little remembered British R&B combo called the Rolling Stones to perform during the conference.

MPC can be faulted only for their failure to prevent a thunderstorm on Wednesday afternoon.

Lynda Kellem and Sam Spencer did a great job managing the conference programme, as did workshop, poster, and Petcha Kutcha coordinators, giving IASSIST 2015 legitimate claim to be the best ever.

Plenary sessions

The conference, entitled “Bridging the data divide”, was orientated around three challenging plenary sessions, which covered the destruction or construction of metaphorical bridges between data creators and users.

Steven Ruggles (MPC) outlined the downfall of the United States Census from the world’s leading innovator in data gathering, analysis, and dissemination to one hampered by policies of contracting out government services.

Curtiss Cobb from facebook presented a view we rarely get at academic conferences, a commercial company that needs and uses data and wasn’t actually trying to sell their creation at the conference (no need really as the person in front of me spent an hour utilising Mr Cobb’s product regardless). Whatever your view of that company, or speculations on the motives behind their stated aims, their needs embrace IASSIST’s organisational goals of supporting high quality meaningful data.

Andrew Johnson, Minneapolis city councillor and assuredly not the 17th President of the United States, recounted his campaign platform of using open data in government -- another bridge built, and one I hope connects governments to electorates and - ultimately - better governance. Cllr. Johnson’s session also revealed a set of cultural challenges familiar to anyone who’s interviewed researchers on data sharing: “[It] will be used to make us look bad”, “people could do anything with it”, and one I haven’t seen yet in data sharing excuses bingo: “Geeks will have an unfair advantage”.

Concurrent sessions

My first session produced three good presentations on RDM services.

Jungwon Yan’s research at University of Michigan indicated knowledge of RDM may vary across discipline and a stakeholder analysis may be helpful to understand the kind of RDM service needed.

Mayu Ishida (University of Manitoba) and Sarah Williams (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) claimed libraries are responding to funding agencies data mandates and developing research data services to include different types of data, domains, and needs.

Two Amies, Neeser and West (University of Minnesota), ended on a positive note for those of us struggling to deliver RDM support: it takes a long time, no one else is better/faster/more, and there is no “done”.

Kelly Chatain (ICPSR) began the session on “Integrating Principles, Practices, and Programs to support Research Data Management” by mentioning outreach to build goodwill.

Lizzy Rolando (Georgia Tech) highlighted the distinctions between data services and archives, which have implications for service provision.

Bethany Anderson (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign) emphasised the importance of documentation for reuse, reproducibility, and replicability, urging us to take whole-lifecycle view into mind and think of preserving scientific memory as without context, data has no historical value.

Session C3 on “Data Sharing Behaviour and Policy” featured your friend and humble narrator going on about UK Higher Education Institution Research Data Policies.

After the audience had recovered, Amy Pienta (ICPSR) presented on the differences in data sharing attitudes between disciplines even if there is no apparent explanation in the data for those differences.

Alexia Katsinidou (GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences) offered preliminary survey analysis on non-compliance in data sharing that suggests surprising counter-intuitive reasons for not sharing.

D1 featured “Data Professionals”.

IASSIST 2015 fellow Adetoun Oyelude, (University of Ibadan) talked about her interviews with data specialists in Nigeria and the considerable financial and working culture challenges they face doing their job.

A. Michelle Edwards (Cornell) mapped the data lifecycle we all know and love into an approach for starting a new job.

The session then ended with Line Pouchard (Purdue) outlining differences between regulatory environments in United States and United Kingdom on video feeds in the CAM2 project, stating existing regulations were written before “Big Data” came, and subsequently they make sharing difficult.

Restricted-Use Data Support in Academic Libraries” found a “catalogue” (suggestions for a better collective noun are welcomed) of US based librarians speaking about attempts to facilitate sensitive data access in their institution.

It seems this is often on a basis of the librarian having prior knowledge and experience in these areas.

Reasons a secure data room was requested are essentially a) graduate students do not have their own space in which to work with sensitive data, and b) the supplier's request data only be provided with a consummate level of security provided.

Researchers need help with restricted data: facilities to ensure data security, and a professional to mediate applying for, receiving, and handling data, advice on complying with restricted data controls.

The final session I attended featured librarians working in the Data Management Plans as A Research Tool (DART) project.

This project uses NSF and NIH DMPs as a means to develop research data services at academic libraries thorough a standardised review process.

The findings are that DMPs are getting better over time, but there is a need for better, clearer “boilerplate” language to manage researcher expectations and halt their misinterpretation of what data services can offer.

Pecha Kucha

Doing the Pecha Kucha session justice in this blog post is impossible for a writer of my ability, and someone conscious of an already lengthy word count. You had to be there for the experience as IASSISTers unleashed their comedic and creative talents for six minute 40 second takes on a range of data (and wine) related topics.

Thanks to this year’s session, attendees are now aware of what it takes to draw an owl.

Poster session

The poster session was also full of good presentations. A few singled out for relevance to me included University of Toronto on RDM training, The UK’s new Administrative Data Research Network, and the simple, but effective, idea of collecting RDM stories.


I’m sure they were great. I just didn’t go to one.

And finally…

Amy West did the data viz job in capturing #iassist15 tweets While Kristin Briney’s session notes became a work of art*.

Slowly, surely, presentations will start to appear on the conference or IASSIST website. And of course in the end there was a song.

What’s next?

Next year we move the show to Bergen, Norway. Oil, fish, Black Metal, and data. Join us!

* Briney, Kristin (2015): IASSIST 2015 - Whole Notebook of Sketchnotes. figshare. Retrieved 10:55, Jun 11, 2015 (GMT)

New IQ now available!

Editor notes: 

Data, the whole Data, and nothing but the Data … and the Metadata, and the Access to Data

Welcome to the third issue of volume 38 of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ 38:3, 2014). This issue is unquestionably about data. There are three papers on projects for improving delivery of data to users.

The first paper is ‘Distributing Access to Data, not Data’ by David Schiller from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) at Nuremberg (Germany) and Richard Welpton at UK Data Archive, University of Essex (UK). They focus on the problem that access to European microdata for researchers is restricted by national borders and the barriers for performing comparative analyses between the member states. The ‘Data without Boundaries’ project now has an initiative to build a ‘European Remote Access Network’ (EuRAN). The problem is that prevention of identifying respondents in the microdata conflicts with the importance for modern research methods of access to detailed data. Some control is necessary and the paper describes remote access as the appropriate answer in the forms of job submission, remote execution, and remote desktop. As an example, one version of secure remote desktop access encrypts pictures of the desktop screens to make secure the transport over the Internet. The authors reference a set of principles for access, e.g., that it is not desirable to physically move data and that access should come through a single point that can access multiple sources of data. The researchers’ need to analyse the data is supported by a ‘Virtual Research Environment’ that includes software for generating and presenting results through the EuRAN project.

The next paper presents a two-year metadata project based upon two well-known series of studies: the American National Election Study (ANES) and the US General Social Survey (GSS). The goal is to improve their metadata and build demonstration tools to illustrate the value of structured, machine-actionable metadata as reported in ‘Creating Rich, Structured Metadata: Lessons Learned in the Metadata Portal Project’. The authors are Mary Vardigan (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)), Darrell Donakowski (American National Election Studies (ANES), University of Michigan), Pascal Heus (Metadata Technology North America (MTNA)), Sanda Ionescu (ICPSR), and Julia Rotondo (NORC at University of Chicago). The article reports on their experiences, and also includes recommendations. The National Science Foundation funded the project under the ‘Metadata for Long-standing Large-Scale Social Science Surveys’ (META-SSS) program. ICPSR and ANES are co-distributors of most of the ANES studies while the GSS is co-distributed by NORC, the Roper Center, and ICPSR. In the project metadata tools revealed small differences between supposed identical datasets, for instance in study titles, variable names, etc. The project also decided which types of content to include. Both of the the series are huge collections - as the 58 ANES surveys contain 79,521 variables and the cumulative GSS has 5,558 variables. Marking up this legacy documentation is laborious and time-intensive and the future naturally lies in capturing the metadata at the source. In conclusion, the project learned a great deal about converting legacy documentation and identified several steps for documentation development, including the areas of paradata and versions of datasets. The concept of versions of datasets relates to the solution described in the first paper of not bringing data but access to data to the users.

The third paper demonstrates further work in the project described above. In the paper ‘Mapping the General Social Survey to the Generic Statistical Business Process Model: NORC’s Experience’ the three authors - Scot Ausborn, Julia Rotondo, and Tim Mulcahy – all from NORC at the University of Chicago - present how they carried out the mapping of the GSS workflow to the Generic Statistical Business Process Model (GSBPM). An analysis of the business processes for the production of survey data was carried out with the intention of direct capture of survey cycle DDI-based metadata, thus avoiding the need to generate it retroactively. The work is based upon an internal survey of GSS staff, asking them to explicate their respective roles on the survey in terms of the GSBPM. Connecting aspects of the GSS workflow to elements of the GSBPM produced a comprehensive and integrative view of the individual efforts that together produce the survey. Of the lessons learned, I noticed that they later found that it may have been more fruitful to have held a workshop in which GSS staff could discuss the workflow processes together, rather than having a survey with each person providing his or her input in isolation. They mention that they think an expert in GSBPM could have conducted the mapping of the workflow; however they did identify points for improvement in the workflow relating to both metadata and paradata.

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

Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:

Authors can also contact me via e-mail: 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
March 2015

Winner announced for first IASSIST Paper Competition

Dear IASSIST Members,

In our call for this year's conference we included a new Paper Track that would require members to submit a full paper in advance of the conference. We also created a best paper competition as an incentive to submit. I have the pleasure to announce a winner of our first IASSIST Paper Competition!

The winning paper was "Sustainability of Social Science Data Archives: A Historical Network Perspective” by Kristin R. Eschenfelder, Morgaine Gilchrist Scott, Kalpana Shankar, Ellen LeClere, Rebecca Lin, and Greg Downey. Kristin as lead author will receive a free registration for a future IASSIST conference, and the entire team will be recognized at the IASSIST Business Meeting on Wednesday, June 3 at 4:45-5:15. The paper stood out for its fit with the conference theme, relevance to IASSIST Quarterly, and research design.

We have all submitted conference papers available on our website as a way to encourage feedback from attendees ( Every paper will be considered for publication in IQ.

A big IASSIST thanks to our authors for helping us kick off a potentially new tradition. Also, thank you to the sub-committee members (Karen Hogenboom, Thomas Lindsay, Sara Holder, Michelle Edwards, and Berenica Vejvoda) for the hard work to select a winner.

They are helping to make IASSIST 2015 the best conference ever!  See you all soon!

Lynda & Sam
Program Committee Co-Chairs

Lynda M. Kellam Data Services & Government Information Librarian Adjunct Lecturer in Political Science University of NC at Greensboro

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." Notes from RDMF13: Preparing Data for Deposit

The Digital Curation Centre’s most recent Research Data Management Forum took place last week in London.

UK Data Service’s Louise Corti began the day with an overview of their acquisitions process. The Service (under various names) is almost 50 years old that gives it experience and perspective many institutions do not have. Lessons from those years include the importance of a collections development policy that’s allowed to evolve. The Archive evaluates on a basis of teaching and re-use for validation and replication. They have learnt from past mistakes and now keep access licences to three options: open, safeguarded (requiring registration), and controlled (locked-down access). Common problems persist however. Poor file names, weak description of methods and contextual documentation, limited metadata, and unexplained missing data files. The UK Data Service play a number of roles as a data service, from hand-holders and evangelical preachers, to being the Economic and Social Research Council’s police officer for non-compliance on data sharing.

Suzanne Embury made a valuable point in her presentation. Of course, the one thing we know is we don’t know how other people will re-use data in the future. But we can reasonably guess what they will want to do is discover, integrate, and aggregate it. To this end, simple things can help – check spellings, aim for standardised vocabularies, avoid acronyms. Finally, apply a domain expert test to see if people in the discipline can independently understand the data. With that, echoes of Gary King’s replication standard came to mind.

A presentation on meeting the RDM challenge focused on the University of Loughborough who have adopted a data preservation and sharing solution based on figshare and Arkivum support. Loughborough desire making depositing data as easy as possible for researchers by taking care of as much of back end stuff as possible. But at what cost, in both finances and quality? At the last IASSIST we learnt RDM takes a village, but Loughborough acknowledged the contribution of 61 people in setting up their service, so maybe it really takes a small metropolitan statistical area.

IASSIST’s own web editor Robin Rice directed us through data deposit at the University of Edinburgh guided by former IASSIST president Peter Burnhill’s refrain of "helping researchers to do the right thing". Edinburgh provide support throughout the data lifecycle with strong training resources (Research Data MANTRA), plus face-to-face sessions on managing data, creating DMP, good practice, handling data in SPSS, working with personal and sensitive research data. Like the UK Data Service, they recognise the value in keeping things simple and offering good incentives. Licence options, for example. Their repository only accepts open data (CC-BY 4.0) but depositing is based on five required metadata fields. In return, depositors get their data available quickly with open download stats for every item.

The afternoon sessions split into three discussion groups. Emerging from them were thoughts on keeping metadata requirements as simple as possible, recognising the concentrate on different aspects depending on the discipline; some disciplines require precision while others do not require so much. An acknowledgement that data discovery is often undertaken through google. Also, while there inevitably is a range of people providing a service, there needs to be or a person connecting existing resources in a university. Finally, raising awareness is a problem, demand related to institutional awareness.

Presentations from the event are available from the DCC, and tweets with the hashtag #rdmf13. The DCC will be blogging about the discussion group sessions.

IASSIST election results, 2015

Hello IASSISTers!

Here are the official results of the 2015 IASSIST elections.  There was a 61% voter turnout.  The winning candidates are:

President: Tuomas Alaterä

Vice President: Jen Green

Secretary: Ryan Womack

Africa Regional Secretary: Lynn Woolfrey

Asia-Pacific Regional  Secretary: Sam Spencer

Canada Regional Secretary: Carol Perry

Europe Regional Secretary: David Schiller

USA Regional Secretary: San Cannon

AC Member, Canada: Berenica Vejvoda

AC Members, Europe: Oliver Watteler and Arne Wolters

AC Members, USA: Kate McNeill, Jen Darragh, and Ashley Jester

Many, many thanks to all candidates who agreed to stand, and congratulations to our new officers.  Newly elected officers’ terms officially begin at the end of the Annual Business Meeting of the Association at the 41st Annual IASSIST conference in Minneapolis, but they are welcome to attend the Administrative Committee meeting preceding the conference as observers if they so wish.

Melanie Wright

Chair, IASSIST Nominations and Elections Committee

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