CODATA meeting notes

By San | August 3, 2005

The US National Committee for CODATA and its subgroup on Permanent Access to Scientific Data met on July 13 and 14 at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. I [Gretchen Gano] was invited to participate as a guest. Below are links, a background on the committee, and some meeting highlights from my perspective with proposed follow-on IASSIST activities. I will forward a list of the proposed activities to the conference-planning list!



CODATA is an interdisciplinary Scientific Committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which works to improve the quality, reliability, management and accessibility of data of importance to all fields of science and technology. Its mandate includes all types of data resulting from experimental measurements, observations and calculations in every field of science and technology, including the physical sciences, biology, geology, astronomy, engineering, environmental science, ecology and others. Particular emphasis is given to data management problems common to different disciplines and to data used outside the field in which they were generated.

The U.S. National Committee (USNC) for the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) functions as a bridge between the scientific and technical community in the United States and the international CODATA on data issues addressed in the natural sciences.

Meeting highlights with notes about proposed IASSIST follow-up activities:

Notes from Archiving subgroup meeting:

  1. CODATA/ICSTI Portal on Permanent Access The planned portal will provide information on data archiving specifically targeted toward those in developing nations. PROPOSED IASSIST ACTIVITY – Dr. Anderson, chair of the archiving subgroup, could be invited to make a presentation on CODATA initiatives and the CODATA/ICSTI Portal on Permanent Access.
  2. The archiving group is planning two workshops for the coming year – one in Southern Africa (Sept 5-7, 2005) and one in Latin America in the spring of 2006.

Notes from the Main Committee Meeting:

  1. The next CODATA conference will be held in Beijing, Oct 23-25, 2006. Organizers would like to expand the attendance by including ancillary workshops. PROPOSED IASSIST ACTIVITY – IASSIST could organize an ancillary workshop for the Beijing, China, CODATA meeting in the fall of 2006 on archiving in the social sciences.

  2. Update on World Summit on the Information Society WSIS-related CODATA activities and USNC/CODATA support

    Paul Uhlir, Director, U.S. National Committee for CODATA, is conducting an inventory of US activities related to WSIS goals. The intent is to provide concrete evidence of activities that support WSIS goals in the United States. The inventory will become an on-line resource at WSIS on-line.

    PROPOSED IASSIST ACTIVITY – An on-line form for submitting descriptions of activities for the inventory is being developed at the National Academies. I will forward a link to the survey to the IASSIST list when it is ready. IASSIST members are encouraged to report on relevant activities at their home institutions.

  3. There was a report from the Russian national CODATA committee and a discussion about collaborating with USNC CODATA in upcoming activities in Eastern Europe.

  4. The committee meeting included a forum on NSB report on Long-Lived Digital Data Collections [pdf].

    Select points from the discussion:

    • There should be a cross-agency review to establish policy and articulate level of commitment toward data preservation at US agencies.
    • Data management proposals should address data lifecycle concerns. Proposal evaluation should be based on lifecycle considerations.
    • Data management plans should be evaluated by qualified reviewers and should represent a higher priority in the overall proposal review process.
    • Data preservation proposals should not have to compete with proposals to fund new research. Funding agencies should encourage new research that utilizes and synthesizes existing data collections – building complex models and devising new uses for existing data.
    • There should be a discussion in the library community and at academic institutions about how to support data archiving across the sciences. Funding agencies should offer incentives to advance this discussion.
    • Data centers should have a resident data scientist and should be able to secure support for original research. Funding agencies should help create career paths for people in digital data centers.
    • NSF could consider mandating data management training for all researchers just as NIH requires human subjects training for grantees.
    • There should be a study of how the new requirements at NIH have impacted data archiving. Costs models and process should be documented to produce an analysis of costs and benefits.

Submitted by Gretchen Gano