Regional Report 2008-2009: Canada

IASSIST Regional Report 2008-2009 Canada
Bo Wandschneider
University of Guelph
May 16, 2009

This will be my last regional report for a while. I look forward to passing this on to the capable hands of Marilyn Andrews. As stated last year it is a challenge to try and capture what is happening from such a broad and engaged community, I can only imagine the challenges for other regions. I thank all those who helped provide content and I apologize if I missed something. These are in no specific order.

National Initiatives

CISTI (Canadian Institute for Scientific and Technical Information)

Research Data Canada, part of CISTI, which is Canada’s national science library, has established a new working group around a Research Data Strategy. This is: “a collaborative effort to address the challenges and issues surrounding the access and preservation of data arising from Canadian research. This multi-disciplinary group of universities, institutes, libraries, granting agencies, and individual researchers are bonded by a shared recognition of the pressing need to deal with Canadian data management issues. Together, they will focus on the necessary actions, next steps and leadership roles that researchers and institutions can take to ensure Canada’s research data is accessible and usable for current and future generations of researchers."

One of the outcomes from December 2008, is a report called Stewardship of Research Data in Canada: Gap Analysis. This is an excellent document outlining the current state of research data stewardship in Canada. It identifies gaps between the current state and an ideal state, looking at such aspects as policy, funding, roles and responsibilities, TDR’s, standards, skills and training, reward and recognition, accessibility and preservation. There are several working groups tackling research data management, training, rewards and recognition, policy and technical infrastructure? IASSIST members are closely involved in these groups.

CARL (Canadian Association of Research Libraries)

The Data Management Working Group in CARL has prepared a document entitled, Data Management Awareness Toolkit, to be distributed in May, 2009. This is a briefing document to provide directors of Canadian research libraries with background information about data stewardship.


Statistics Canada has been reviewing the creation of PUMF’s to gauge their usefulness and determine if there have been any changes in availability and quality over time. A report to the DLI External Advisory Committee in April 2009 indicates that the right questions are being asked and the true value of the PUMF’s has been recognized. A recent reorganization in Statistics Canada has resulted in a new Division dedicated to Microdata Access. There is a chance of locating a centre of expertise in this new Division that specializes in the production and dissemination of PUMF’s. We will be keeping a close eye on these developments over the next year. The review is now focusing on making the PUMF’s more useful with more content.

RDC Network

Breckenhill Inc, a Canadian software developer, is heading up an international consortium of developers that, through a competitive bid, was awarded the contract to create a suite of tools for producing DDI 3 metadata. The resulting tools will be available to the international research community through an open source license. A Research Metadata Centre was opened recently in Gatineau, Quebec to produce DDI metadata for the confidential data files now housed in the RDC Network. Furthermore, a project is underway to connect all centres and branches in the Canadian RDC Network through a lighpath articulate private network over Canada’s high-speed optical research network. Previous to this, all facilities have operated their own internal local area networks, completely isolated from one another. A testbed of four centres is operational now. Eighteen other facilities will be connected over the next eight months.


DLI is continuing to mark up data in DDI and making the metadata available to all via the web. This markup is fully bilingual (English/French) and the resulting metadata are available to all via

Statistics Canada is contemplating opening access to PUMFs to groups outside the DLI. A proposal is being prepared aiming at giving access to various organizations within or outside Canada based on a subscription fee which also needs to be determined. There is also some discussions with some colleges and universities who would like to join the DLI. Presently, we now have 74 members but this number could increase again in the next few months.

A Training the Trainers session is being prepared. The last one was held a few years ago and was quite successful in insuring new people as trainers or as training coordinators. The DLI is counting on that initiative to bring on board new people in view of replacing some other people who will be retiring in the near future.


On March 20, 2009 CAPDU held its first virtual AGM. One of the main outcomes of this meeting was the revival and renewal of several committees. Members of one committee, the Metadata committee will be assessing DDI uptake in Canada and working towards a developing a National DDI presence. We are excited about new ventures coming from CAPDU over the next year.

Provincial Initiatives

Ontario Data Extraction System and Infrastructure

After several years of planning, meeting, volunteering, strategising, creating, and regularly revisiting and improving, <odesi> has reached maturity and is graduating to the position of full-fledged service at Scholar’s Portal. This was accomplished through the Ontario University community’s astonishing level of grass-roots engagement in the project. Committed volunteers have worked to enhance the collection, create training modules, mark up French data, and contributed to the design and vision of a new and sophisticated search interface, which renders ‘s search capacity incredibly powerful. Developed at Scholar’s Portal using a Mark Logic front end the new search leverages the DDI XML files to allow for a fast and feature rich search of the collection. We are also extremely proud of ‘s new French, search interface to access our growing French metadata collection. The search tools in are open to anyone.

The collection has grown at a staggering rate. We’ve imported the DDI metadata from important and diverse collections such as CORA and ICPSR, allowing the user to search for multiple variables, in multiple collections, with a single search through ‘s sophisticated interface. Our collection of public opinion polls has also grown to include the likes of Leger, Ipsos Ried, Gallup… now hosts the records for more than 280,000 variables.

Last but not least, the DDI Best Practices Document has evolved, garnering input and feedback from the both the national and international DDI community. The BPD is proving a core document in the construction of what will be a forward-thinking, collaborative, data-sharing community.


Maxine Tedesco (University of Lethbridge) has been coordinating the Table-to-Data (T2D) project over the past year while on a research leave. She has searched the literature about possible linkages between publications and primary data. Her findings corroborate that little work has been done in the digital preservation and publishing realm that align with the T2D project. Maxine has developed a bibliography on T2D-related topics. While there has been a lot of development around marking up tables for display and special mark-up for the visually impaired, very little has been published about marking up content within tables to facilitate better searching or linking with primary data.

Chuck Humphrey and Maxine spoke in late February about tangible next steps in testing table mark-up. Maxine will create a list of highlights from the bibliography she has compiled and place this summary on the T2D wiki. She will also identify a typical table found in Tablebaseā„¢, describing the metadata they provide. Based on this example, members of the working group will be asked to critique the utility of these metadata for discovery and linkage purposes. The outcomes of this discussion will be used to draft better metadata elements and to develop ways of marking up this information. The working group will also be asked to find exemplary tables that would benefit from enhanced mark-up and then to comment on what this enhancement will entail.

OCUL (Ontario Council of University Libraries) Map Group

The OCUL map group is developing a proposal to create a Geospatial Data Portal. It is the vision of the proposal to establish a shared infrastructure, operated as part of OCUL Scholars Portal services for storing and delivering geospatial data to students, faculty, staff, and researchers affiliated with Ontario’s 19 universities. This infrastructure will enable the development of a shared interface for search, discovery and access to geospatial data and new models for acquiring and licensing geospatial data through consortium purchasing.

The project has recently received provincial funding and is currently in the process of establishing it’s governance structure and hiring project staff. More to come.

That’s all for this year.