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IASSIST 2015

RDA Congratulates IASSIST on Successful Conference

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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

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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 Internet.org. 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!

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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!

(because)

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

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“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.

Workshops

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. http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1439792 Retrieved 10:55, Jun 11, 2015 (GMT)

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