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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

White Paper Urges New Approaches to Assure Access to Scientific Data

Press release posted on behalf of Mark Thompson-Kolar, ICPSR.

12/12/2013:  (Ann Arbor, MI)—More than two dozen data repositories serving the social, natural, and physical sciences today released a white paper recommending new approaches to funding sharing and preservation of scientific data. The document emphasizes the need for sustainable funding of domain repositories—data archives with ties to specific scientific communities.

“Sustaining Domain Repositories for Digital Data: A White Paper,” is an outcome of a meeting convened June 24-25, 2013, in Ann Arbor. The meeting, organized by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, was attended by representatives of 22 data repositories from a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines.

Domain repositories accelerate intellectual discovery by facilitating data reuse and reproducibility. They leverage in-depth subject knowledge as well as expertise in data curation to make data accessible and meaningful to specific scientific communities. However, domain repositories face an uncertain financial future in the United States, as funding remains unpredictable and inadequate. Unlike our European competitors who support data archiving as necessary scientific infrastructure, the US does not assure the long-term viability of data archives.

“This white paper aims to start a conversation with funding agencies about how secure and sustainable funding can be provided for domain repositories,” said ICPSR Director George Alter. “We’re suggesting ways that modifications in US funding agencies’ policies can help domain repositories to achieve their mission.”

Five recommendations are offered to encourage data stewardship and support sustainable repositories: 

  •  Commit to sustaining institutions that assure the long-term preservation and viability of research data
  • Promote cooperation among funding agencies, universities, domain repositories, journals, and other stakeholders 
  •  Support the human and organizational infrastructure for data stewardship as well as the hardware
  •  Establish review criteria appropriate for data repositories
  • Incentivize Principal Investigators (PIs) to archive data

While a single funding model may not fit all disciplines, new approaches are urgently needed, the paper says.

“What’s really remarkable about this effort—the meeting and the resulting white paper—has been the consensus across disciplines from astronomy to archaeology to proteomics,” Alter said. “More than two dozen domain repositories from so many disciplines are saying the same thing: Data sharing can produce more science, but data stewards must know the needs of their scientific communities.”

This white paper is a must read for anyone who wants to understand the role of scientific domain repositories and their critical role in the advancement of science. It can be downloaded at http://datacommunity.icpsr.umich.edu

 

The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), based in Ann Arbor, MI, is the largest archive of behavioral and social science research data in the world. It advances research by acquiring, curating, preserving, and distributing original research data. www.icpsr.umich.edu

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grantmaking institution based in New York City. Established in 1934, the Foundation makes grants in support of original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance. www.sloan.org

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IASSIST 2014 Conference Submission Deadline EXTENDED to December 20

By popular request (and due to the tight holiday schedule this year), the IASSIST 2014 Conference Programme Committee has extended the conference submission deadline!

Submissions for all formats are now due December 20, 2013.

Thank you for all of your submissions to date, we look forward to the review.

Please let us know if you have any questions - email.

Best,

Program Chairs

Jen Green
Johan Fihn
Chuck Humphrey

(And in case this is new to you...)

The theme of the conference  is "Aligning Data and Research Infrastructure" and the meeting will be held in Toronto, Canada 3-6 June 2014.  The conference program emphasizes three tracks:  Research Data Management, Professional Development, and Data Developers and Tools.  Participants may propose individual papers, complete sessions, poster/demonstrations, Pecha Kucha, roundtable discussions, and workshops.

Conference overview: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/iassist/
Call for Papers: http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/iassist/call-for-papers/
Online submissions: http://staff.lib.muohio.edu/~sekyerk/iassist14/
Workshop proposals: email Workshop Coordinator Lynda Kellam

Please spread the word about the impending submission deadline and IASSIST's exciting 40th Anniversary conference!

IASSIST Fellows Program 2013-14

The IASSIST Fellows Program is pleased to announce that it is now accepting applications for financial support to attend the IASSIST 2014 conference in Toronto [http://www.library.yorku.ca/cms/iassist/], from data professionals who are developing, supporting and managing data infrastructures at their home institutions.

Please be aware that funding is not intended to cover the entire cost of attending the conference. The applicant’s home institution must provide some level of financial support to supplement an IASSIST Fellow award. Strong preference will be given to first time participants and applicants from those countries currently with insufficient representation at IASSIST. Only fully completed applications will be considered. Applicants submitting a paper for the conference will be given priority consideration for funding.

You may apply for funding via this form.The deadline for applications is the 31st of January 2014.

For more information, to apply for funding or nominate a person for a Fellowship, please send an email to the Fellows Committee chairs, Luis Martínez-Uribe (
lmartinez@march.es) and Stuart Macdonald (srm262@cornell.edu).

IASSIST 2014 Call for Papers

ALIGNING DATA AND RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURE
IASSIST 2014 Annual Conference Call for Paper and Session Proposals

This year’s conference theme touches upon the international and interdisciplinary requirements of aligning data and research infrastructure. The 2013 OECD Global Science Forum report on New Data for Understanding the Human Condition identifies key challenges for international data collaboration that beg for new solutions. Among these challenges is the mounting pressure for new forms of social science data. In today’s abundance of personal data, new methods are being sought to combine traditional social science data (administrative, survey, and census data) with new forms of personal data (social networking, biomarkers or transaction data) or with data from other domains. Similarly, the need for open data, archiving, and long-term curation infrastructures has been identified for research data in the natural, physical, and life sciences. Funders in all areas are pushing to enable the replication and/or reuse of research data. What alignments are needed between data and research infrastructure to enable these possibilities?

The international research community is in the midst of building a global data ecosystem that consists of a mixture of domain data repositories, data archives, data libraries, and data services and that seeks ways to facilitate data discovery, integration, access, and preservation. Evidence of this transformation is found in the recently established ICSU World Data System and in the Research Data Alliance. Like IASSIST, these organisations are contributing to the development of a global data ecosystem. Alignment or unification of strategies must take place at many levels to achieve this. How do we proceed? What advancements are needed in research data management, research infrastructure, and the development of new expertise?

Conference Tracks

We welcome submissions on the theme outlined above and encourage conference participants to propose papers and sessions that will be of interest to a diverse audience. To facilitate the organisation and scheduling of sessions, three distinct tracks have been established. If you are unsure which track your submission belongs or you feel that it applies to more than one track, submit your proposal and if accepted, the Programme Committee will find an appropriate fit.

Track 1: Research Data Management

  • New data types and their management
  • Challenges in exchanging research data across disciplines
  • Using social science data with data from other domains
  • Data linkage in the creation of new social science data
  • Data management within the global research data ecosystem
  • Data archives and repositories in the global data ecosystem
  • Best practices in the global data ecosystem
  • Metadata enabling the interoperability of research data
  • Application of DDI, SDMX, other metadata schema, taxonomies or ontologies in research data management
  • Data management policies and workflow systems
  • Data attribution and citation systems

Track 2: Professional Development

  • Training challenges given the growing number of professional positions within the global data ecosystem, which includes data curators, data scientists, data librarians, data archivists, etc.
  • Teaching end-users to work with research data
  • Data and statistical literacy
  • Data collection development in libraries and other institutions
  • Explorations of data across subject areas and geographic regions
  • Copyright clearance, privacy and confidential data
  • Working with ethics review boards and research service offices
  • Interdisciplinarity – promoting the cross-use of data
  • Training researchers about research data management planning
  • Liaison librarians’ roles in research data

Track 3: Data Developers and Tools

  • New infrastructure requirements in the global data ecosystem
  • Infrastructure supporting Data Without Borders
  • Tools to develop and support new social science data
  • Crowdsourcing applications in producing new social science data
  • Data dives or hackathons
  • API development supporting research data management
  • Open data web services
  • Applications of research data visualisation in the social sciences
  • Preservation tools for research data
  • Tools for data mining
  • Data technology platforms: cloud computing and open stack storage
Conference Formats

The Programme Committee welcomes submissions employing any of the following formats:

Individual proposal
This format consists of a 15 to 20 minute talk that is typically accompanied with a written paper. If your individual proposal is accepted, you will be grouped into an appropriate session with similarly themed presentations.
Session proposal
Session proposals consist of an identified set of presenters and their topics. Such proposals can suggest a variety of formats, e.g. a set of three to four presentations, a discussion panel, a discussion with the audience, etc. If accepted, the person who proposed the session becomes the session organiser and is responsible for securing speakers/participants and a chair/moderator (if not standing in that role him/herself).
Pecha Kucha proposal
A proposal for this programme event consists of a presentation of 20 slides shown for 20 seconds each, with heavy emphasis on visual content. Presentations in this event are timed and speakers are restricted to seven minutes.
Poster or demonstrations proposal
Proposals in this category should identify the message being conveyed in a poster or the nature of the demonstration being made.
Round table discussion proposal
Round table discussions typically take place during lunch and have limited seating. Please indicate how you plan to share the output of your round table discussion with all of IASSIST.

Session formats are not limited to the ideas above and session organisers are welcome to suggest other formats.

All submissions should include the proposed title and an abstract no longer than 200 words (note: longer abstracts will be returned to be shortened before being considered). Please note that all presenters are required to register and pay the registration fee for the conference. Registration for individual days will be available.

Please use this online submission form to submit your proposal. If you are unsure which track your submission fits or if you feel it belongs in more than one track, the Program Committee will find an appropriate place.

We also welcome workshop proposals around the same themes. Successful proposals will blend lecture and active learning techniques. The conference planning committee will provide the necessary classroom space and computing supplies for workshops. For previous examples of IASSIST workshops, please see the descriptions of 2011 workshops and 2013 workshops. Typically workshops are half-day with 2-hour and 3-hour options.

  • Deadline for submission: December 9, 2013 (2013.12.09)
  • Notification of acceptance: February 7, 2014 (2014.02.07).
Program Chairs
  • Johan Fihn
  • Jen Green
  • Chuck Humphrey

re3data.org and OpenAIRE sign MoU during Open Access Week; new re3data.org features

Last month, OpenAIRE (Open Access Infrastructure for Research in Europe) and re3data.org signed a Memorandum of Agreement to “work jointly to facilitate research data registration, discovery, access and re-use” in support of open science.  OpenAIRE is an infrastructure for open access that works to track and measure research output (originally designed to monitor EU funding activities).  re3data.org is an online listing of research data repositories.

re3data.org and OpenAIRE will exchange metadata in order for OpenAIRE to “integrate data repositories indexed in the re3data.org registry and in turn return information about usage statistics for datasets and inferred links between data and publications.”

For more information, see the OpenAIRE press release on the MoU.

In addition, re3data.org is now mentioned in Nature's Scientific data's deposition policy, which encourages the registration of repositories with the service, as well as a collaboration with BioSharing.

In addition, re3data.org has made other recent enhancements, including:

Now users can browse re3data.org repositories by:

  1. subject
  2. content type
  3. country

Furthermore, a re-designed the repository record now groups information into the categories of: general, institutions, terms, and standards.  They have added many more repositories in the past few months, so check it out!

Announcing the Release of the CRDCN Dataset Builder

The Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN) is pleased to announce the release of the CRDCN Dataset Builder.

In collaboration with Statistics Canada and Metadata Technology North America, the Dataset Builder allows researchers working (or intending to work) in a Canadian RDC the ability to browse, search for and select variables in the Statistics Canada surveys currently housed in the RDCs. 

Utilizing DDI Lifecycle metadata, the Dataset Builder allows researchers to find and select variables, as well as produce SAS, SPSS or Stata syntax to help read in and format the variables, and produce customized documentation (Layout and Codebooks) for the dataset they create using the app. 

 A one-page installation, setup and use guide can be found at this link, with a link to more descriptive documentation if necessary: https://docs.google.com/document/d/135Eq2fwVRtlMdENpQjmZe5Zjm1OFGImCxtyWeV_7sdI [docs.google.com]

The application is open-source software, so please contact Metadata Technology NA if you're interested in contracting them to customize this application for your own organization.

Please contact Dave Haans (dave.haans@utoronto.ca) for more information.

  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications 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

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    Resources

    A space for IASSIST members to share professional resources useful to them in their daily work. Also the IASSIST Jobs Repository for an archive of data-related position descriptions. more...

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    Find out what IASSISTers are doing in the field and explore other avenues of presentation, communication and discussion via social networking and related online social spaces. more...