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Conference Presentations 2005

  • IASSIST 2005-Evidence and Enlightenment, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
    Host Institution: EDINA National Data Cente and Edinburgh University Data Library

C3 : New Insights in Providing Data Services: A Variety of Evidence (Wed, 2005-05-25)
Chair:Boye Rasmussen, Karsten

  • Data libraries: the view from the other side
    Margaret Law (University of Alberta Library)


    Data libraries frequently exist within larger institutions, such as universities, government agencies and research institutes. As a consequence, management decisions about planning, funding, staffing and services are made by managers of the parent institution, rather than data librarians. Lack of management understanding about the nature and contributions of data libraries and their staff may result in difficulties in acquiring necessary resources. How can this situation be improved?

    This paper presents the view from a library manager’s perspective, and outlines an advocacy agenda and tools for increasing the visibility of the data library within the parent institution. Examples are drawn from both the library and advocacy literature and will propose strategies for getting on the administration’s agenda. It addresses the conference theme through demonstrating the value of enlightening decision-makers about the value of data libraries.

  • Data archiving at the US Central Bank
    Linda Powell (Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)


    As the central bank of the United States of America, the Federal Reserve System consumes vast quantities of economic, financial, and organization structural data. These data are used for making monetary policy, conducting banking supervision, performing economic research, and implementing consumer protection policies. The focus of this paper is on micro data archived at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The paper discusses the types of data used by the central bank, how data are collected and edited, data documentation and metadata, and data purchased from commercial vendors. The paper discusses the challenges faced by archiving a diverse pool of data including communication and coordination, user access across various computer platforms, and meeting the diverse needs of a variety of end users. Finally, the paper discusses some of the solutions to the challenges faced and how technology is facilitating the growth of data archiving.

D1: Data Shaping the Neighbourhood: Localised Insight (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Bayley, Alison

  • Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics and the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation
    Tracey Stead (Office of the Chief Statistician, Scottish Executive)
    John Fraser (Office of the Chief Statistician, Scottish Executive)
    Robert Williams (Office of the Chief Statistician, Scottish Executive)


    Scottish Neighbourhood Statistics (SNS) is the Scottish Executive's on-going programme to improve the availability, consistency and accessibility of small area statistics. SNS has developed a wide range of socio-economic data sets on a new consistent statistical geography called data zones.

    SNS is being used to inform the Executive's approach to improving the quality of life for people living in Scotland and especially in the most disadvantaged areas.

    The information is invaluable to Community Planning Partnerships (there are 32 such partnerships across Scotland) where the availability of quality information is crucial to the way in which services are developed and delivered and issues of local concern are addressed.

    The presentation will cover background, data development, use of data and geography in policy, particularly illustrated by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) 2004.

  • Barriers and opportunities for remote access to farm business and farm household data
    Philip Friend (Economic Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture)


    The Agriculture Resource Management Survey (ARMS) is an annual survey of U.S. farm and ranch operators and it is a primary data resource for a huge array of economic analyses. The Economic Research Service (ERS), collaborating with the National Agricultural and Statistics Service, two Agencies of the United States Federal Government, has attempted to respond to increasing demand for access to this data. However, the survey is conducted under a pledge of confidentiality that allows use of the data only for the purpose of statistical analysis. This raises significant barriers to allowing remote access to the ARMS data. Presented with this conflict, ERS sought to use new technologies to enable the Agency to provide easier access to the data while ensuring its confidentiality. The restricted access extranet application that the ARMS team developed was deployed in September, 2004, and a public version of the tool was deployed less than a month later. This paper will describe both the tool and the process by which it was successfully developed.

  • Characterizing rural England using GIS
    Anne Owen (University of York)
    Steve Cinderby (University of York)
    Meg Huby (University of York)


    This paper draws on experiences gained during the production of a spatial dataset characterizing rural England in terms of both socio-economic and environmental features. The base units of analysis are lower level Super Output Areas (SOAs) that are relatively consistent in terms of population size and allow the release of socio-economic data unavailable at smaller output area levels. Other advantages include boundary stability over time and the ability to nest SOAs within key administrative boundaries.

    SOAs are, however, specifically designed for social census data. Environmental data are more often collected in 1km or 100km grid squares or at points. This paper concerns the challenges arising from the integration of data from the social and natural sciences. Problems of boundary intersections, scale effects, geographic and statistical errors, data holes and the implications of the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) for the resulting dataset are discussed in detail and the importance of metadata for the rural typologies is outlined.


D2: Enriching Metadata: the Lifecycle Perspective (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Green, Ann

  • Survey metadata documentation
    Sue Ellen Hansen (Institution for Social Research, University of Michigan)


    There are many reasons to capture metadata about the survey life cycle, including to facilitate replication, reduce incorrect use of data and facilitate secondary analysis, reduce administrative burden, meet contractual obligations, and ease archiving of survey information and materials. There are an equal number of obstacles to capturing metadata, including time and cost constraints, the complexity of computer assisted survey systems and instruments, and the lack of adequate tools for documenting the survey life cycle. ISR at the University of Michigan and ZUMA have collaborated on the development of a web-based Survey Metadata Documentation System (SMDS) designed to facilitate documentation of a survey's lifecycle, from initial design through data collection, and post-survey processing and archiving. This paper will describe the design and structure of SMDS, which has eleven data entry modules. Modules can be completed in any order and by multiple users, allowing the person most knowledgable about each particular phase of the survey to enter the data. The use of such systems to standardize metadata capture and develop comparative survey documentation (across countries, languages, survey waves, etc.) will be discussed.

  • Providing context for understanding: the data life cycle
    Elizabeth Hamilton (University of New Brunswick)


    The identification and capture of products generated over the data life course are critical to documenting the history of a survey. During the stages from identification of a data gap through to data analysis and interpretation, large surveys generate many different products relating to the design, data capture, and processing of the data. Training manuals, for example, provide information on the conduct of an interviewer and, in some cases, that knowledge is critical to the interpretation of the survey results. Reports with recommendations arising from the field testing of survey methodologies and instruments highlight limitations of a survey methodology in more detail than are normally present in the user manual. Using the examples of recent Statistics Canada surveys, such as the National Population
    Health Survey and the Canadian Community Health Survey, this paper will examine some of the products of the data life course. In archiving, documenting, and using survey data, IASSIST members should be searching out these products to permit a more meaningful understanding of the data.

  • Fitting the life course of the General Social Survey Cycle 17 in the Data Documentation Initiative
    Irene Wong (University of Alberta)


    A Canadian Research Data Centre pilot project was conducted to evaluate the use of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) standard with the confidential data file of the Canadian General Social Survey, Cycle 17. Among the objectives of this study was to assess how well DDI captured the life cycle of the creation and management of metadata within a major survey, including the initial planning stages all the way through to official announcements of products. This study sought to identify the variety of metadata tools used by Cycle 17's author division within Statistics Canada and to map the relationship between these documentation systems and the elements in the DDI standard. This paper reports on the findings of this pilot project.

  • The Xtensible Past: XML as a means for easy access to historical research data and a strategy for digital preservation
    Annelies G.C.W. van Nispen (Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI))
    Rutger Kramer (Netherlands Institute for Scientific Information Services (NIWI))


    This paper reports on the X-past project carried out by the Netherlands Historical Data Archive (NHDA). The main goal of the project is to investigate how the XML data format can improve the durability and access of historical datasets. The assumptions upon which XML is considered as durable are covered. The formatting of datasets in XML format is described. The X-past project investigated the possibilities to provide access to historical datasets by means of the ¹ÄúOpen Archives Initiative ¹ÄìProtocol for Metadata Harvesting¹Äù (OIA-PMH). This protocol uses the XML data format to express the syntax of verbs. Within the framework of the X-past project a prototype information system is developed as a proof of concept, based on which further system requirements have been defined. This paper will present the results of the X-past project and also look forward to its follow-up, Xara.


D3: Tools to Support Data Services: New Approaches (Thu, 2005-05-26)
Chair:Desai, Tanvi

  • The SDA online analysis system - recent enhancements
    Tom Piazza (University of California, Berkeley)


    The SDA system (Survey Documentation and Analysis) is used by many data archives to enable researchers to analyze datasets online. Enhancements to the system are being developed on a regular basis, and the current presentation will summarize recent work. The main topics to be covered by the presentation will be the following: a.. Charts for crosstabulated data and for other output b.. Calculation of confidence intervals for complex samples c.. Simplified user interfaces, as provided by the Quick Tables facility The session will also allow users the opportunity to ask questions about development plans and to make suggestions for future development of the system.

  • 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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