All entries for July 2012
July 26, 2012
Writing about web page http://or2012.ed.ac.uk/
The second day started early with my final workshop, the Place of Software in Data Repositories, this workshop focused on work that had been done by the Software Sustainability Institute on the role of software in the research process. Again illustrating the slow move away from the rewards for researchers being tied to traditional publications and an acknowledgment that research now is a diverse process and involve a huge array of skills. But for researchers to gain the rewards for their work there needs to be a systematic way of storing and making these things available. The host of the workshop, Neil Chue Hong from the University of Edinburgh, spoke briefly on a new idea of the 'software metapaper' as a way to cite all the different parts of a project. The 'metapaper' is a neat idea to get around one of the problems that has been discussed in terms of citing datasets, the fact that some journals limit the number of references you can use (which seems anti-intuitive to me but that's another blog post!). The 'metapaper' will include create a complete record of a project, citing within it any publications, methodology, datasets or software objects that might all be published in different places into a single citable object. The first journal of this kind, the Journal of Open Research Software is due to launch soon. The issue of the long term preservations of software arising form JISC funded projects was also mentioned as an issue that JISC is beginning to grapple with now.
Breakout groups were centred around the range of factors that needed to be considered when making software available in a repository. Which brought up many of the main issues that we had been discussing in relation to datasets, issues of versioning, external dependencies (software is not PERL code alone), drivers to deposit and trust issues can up again. Key amongst these challenges was the issue of sustainability and also of reuse of the software by the software customers. Much of the discussion centred around what exactly it was that you needed to archive for the curation of software, just the text document containing the code? Or would you need to host executable files and the associated virtual machine interfaces as well? What does a trusted repository look like? One interesting issue that also came out of this was the issue of needing to store malicious software, for training purposes and testing, but needing to make these items really clear in an open repository for fear of range of problems! This morning was a great eye opener on the range of questions specialist types of material can raise for repositories making it ever more clear that generalist repositories, like our institutional repository, may not be suitable to try and store everything.
The main conference started in the afternoon with a fantastic keynote opening by Cameron Neylon, the new director of advocacy at the Public Library of Science (PLoS). I had so much to say about this, it has it's own post (to follow)!
Following the Keynote was the 'Poster Minute Madness', a brilliant idea for presenting posters at a conference and a way to get people excited about the content of the posters. A surprisingly nerve-wracking experience for presenters despite being only 60 sections long! (Our poster can be found in WRAP, self-archived on the way to the conference.) As before when I last saw this at OR10 in Madrid, I was blown away by the range of activities being undertaken by repositories around the world and the exciting projects people are thinking up! Highlights for me were:
- Brian Kelly and Jen Delasalle on social networks and repositories
- Chris Awre and others on history data management plans
- Helen Kenna and Karen Bates on Salford's digital archives
- QUT's poster on enhanced usage stats (very much our ideal situation)
But all of the posters were well worth the time taken to read them, I was just disappointed that I didn't get more time talking to people about my poster or talking to others about theirs! The poster reception followed the last events of the day at the stunning Playfair Library.
From here the conference started the parallel sessions, which as usual reminded me of being at a music festival where three of the bands you want to see are all playing at the same time on different stages! (Here I'll add a huge thank you to the organizers for videoing all the presentations so I could watch the ones I missed!) In the end I plumped for the sessions on the development of shared services, which gave an interesting view of a number of countries who are using national shared services as the base of their repository infrastructure. For every advantage of this kind of service I think of I'm reminded of the really rich, heterogeneous environment we have in the UK where every repository works a little differently for different people and I think it's worth the frustrations that always arise when you try to make the systems talk to each other! It was good to hear about the progress of the UK Repository Net+ project that looks like it has the potential to do a lot of good for repositories in the UK and the news from the World Bank of their aggressive Open Access policies is also really encouraging!
July 19, 2012
Follow the link above to see my blog over on the main Library Research Support blogon metadata, what it is, what it's used for and why you should care!
It's all about dissemination.
July 16, 2012
Writing about web page http://or2012.ed.ac.uk/
This is the first of a series of blog posts on my reflections on the 7th International Conference on Open Repositories. I've split the post by the days of the conference mainly to avoid this being the longest blog post ever and to make it easier to refer to later.
Day one was taken up with half day workshops, a fantastic idea and allowed a level of interaction that some of the later sessions couldn't. All the workshops seemed to feature great discussions on relevant topics and a great comparison of different practises in different countries and institutions. My day one workshops were:
- ISL1: Islandora - Getting Started
- DCC: Institutional Repositories & Data - Roles and Responsibilities
- And an optional evening workshop on EDINA's Repository Junction Broker project.
The Islandora workshop was fascinating! I'd not seen very much of the software or it potential before and the workshop was a great introduction to everything about the software, from the architecture and underlying metadata to the different Drupal options for customising the front end. Their system of 'solution packs', Drupal modules that allow you to drop in functionality for different functionality and content types into the system is a great idea and allows the system a degree of flexibility not found in other systems yet (although the EPrints Bazaar might get there soon). They demo-ed a books solution pack for paged content as well as discussing forthcoming solution packs for institutional repository (IR) functionality and Digital Humanities projects. Islandora maintain a web-based sandbox environment to allow people to experiment which is wiped clean each evening which I'm looking forward to playing with as we scope new software for future projects. I also like the fact that the software is completely open source, following the replacement of Abbyy OCR software with the open source equivalent Tesseract. Islandora as the 'new' player in the market is managing to provide the same functionality that the other systems do with a collection of exciting add-ons, however I do see that as you add the extra functionality you are having to maintain a number of additional modules as well as the core software which could have resource implications down the line.
The afternoon workshop run by the Digital Curation Centrewas a nice mix of presentations on the current thinking of a number of projects from around the world and group debate on the weeks 'hot button' topic of Research Data Management (RDM). This topic was to come up time and again in the week as most of the talks and discussions touched on it at least a little. As the title suggested the main thrust of the discussion was around who was responsible for what! Discussions covered a range of topics and some of the messages that came out most strongly for me where:
- Use the discipline data centres as much as possible, no IR (data or otherwise) can, or should, do everything.
- Knowing where the other data centres are is essential.
- Try not to get bogged down trying to 'fix' everything first time, fix what you can and work on the rest later or you could end up doing nothing.
- Interesting point from Chris Awre at Hull, use the IR as a starting point for discussions to move the researcher's thinking from what you have to what they need.
- Try to get into the researchers workflows as early as possible as it makes creating the metadata easier for the researcher, which in turn helps the archive.
- Are repositories qualified to appraise the data deposited with them?
I'll admit that the whole area of RDM is a scary one but it was good to realise that there are both a, a lot of people out there feeling the same and b, a lot of assistance there for when its needed. The idea of just getting something in place and fixing the rest later feels a bit anti-intuitive to me but, on the other hand, it's what I've been doing with WRAP's development of the last two years, it's just that someone else had to take the first step!
The final workshop of the day was an informal one in the evening discussing the development of the EDINA's Repository Junction Broker project which is going to form part of the services offered by the UK Repository Net+. This discussions centred around the development of the extension of the middleware tool developed by EDINA to allow publishers to feed deposits directly into repositories as a service to researchers. As ever this sound like a fantastic idea and the debate was active and enthusiastic as the various stakeholders discussed how to make this work for both repositories and publishers. Certain as far as WRAP is concerned if what we need to do is get our SWORD2 endpoint up and running that that is what we have to do, the service offered by the Repository Junction are far too good to miss out on! I'll be watching this develop with interest....
More on day two soon....
July 09, 2012
Writing about web page http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/stratpolprog/digi/datasets/workshoparchive/archive.html
Last Friday saw the second DataCite event, jointly hosted by JISC and the British Library, this one focussing on metadata for datasets. This is an area of interest for me not just because of the developments in research data management (RDM) that are starting to impact repositories but also because of my background in metadata. The organisers warned us that they were starting with the basics and getting increasingly complicated as the day went on, this was certainly true!
The sessions started with a very good introduction, from Alex Ball of the DCC, on some of the essential metadata needed for both data citation and also data discovery. As he put it the different between, known item searching (data citation) and speculative searching (data discovery). The needs of users undertaking both of these activities are fundamentally different but do have overlap. Through analysis of 15 schemas being used by data centres at the moment he highlighted 16 common metadata fields that appear in the majority of the schemas. None of these fields will come as much of a surprise to people creating and using metadata, but might be unfamiliar to the researchers who may have to create this metadata.
Elizabeth Newbold, from the British Library, spoke about the development of the DataCite schema, listing the essential/mandatory fields that they expect people to provide DataCite with in return for minting the DOIs. These fields mostly represent the fields for data citation as mentioned by Alex but DataCite is hoping that data centres will supply them with some of the additional metadata for discovery as well. This is key to the BLs other presentation from Rachel Kotarski who spoke about developments at the BL in transforming the DataCite metadata into MARC records for use in the main BL catalogue. Rachel spoke about a pilot project run to add the dataset metadata into a trial instance of Primo as a 'proof of concept' to assess whether users were looking for this kind of material and if so what kind of metadata did they want when trying to discover it. At least one JISC RDM project in the room now plans to send much more of their metadata to DataCite to allow better harvesting by the BL and it's certainly something we need to bear in mind when developing Warwick's services in this area.
David Boyd from the data.bris project laid out in detail how they are building on the new capacity for data storage at Bristol to build integrated services around data registration, publishing and discovery. This was an excellent insight into how one University has conceived the whole data model and highlighted some key areas of integration with other services that is possible with joined up processes. I particularly took away the details of the range of ways in which they are thinking about automating metadata creation to remove some of the burden on researchers. Michael Charno from the Archaeology Data Service gave some insight from one of the existing Data Centres, who have been in the game at lot longer than most, in a fascinating talk entitled '2000 years in the making, 2 weeks to record, 2 days to archive, too difficult to cite?'. The ADS model charges data creators/projects to host their data and presents the data free at point of access to the user. Currently one of their challenges is persuading users to reuse data and data loss, archaeology is inherently a destructive process so the records of the excavation are often the only evidence remaining at the end of the project. Michael pointed us all towards a set of guidance documents and toolkits used by the ADS to advise researchers on creating metadata but admitted they didn't have any evidence on the amount of use these tools got. Another area of work discussed was looking at the mappings between the current schema, developed in house for the ADS compares to the new DataCite schema.
The final two talks highlighted issues of interoperability with Steve Donegan from the STFC speaking about the difficulties of reconciling the variety of different schemas used by different environmental sciences as part of developing the NERC Data Centre. He highlighted the different metadata needs of scientists who want the raw data and government agencies who want the data at one level of analysis higher for policy decisions. Steve finished by discussing in some technical depth the challenge of making the NERC data complient to the INSPIRE, European standard. Finally David Shotton of the University of Oxford spoke on a range of projects at Oxford looking at the DataCite metadata. Firstly he has worked on a schema to make DataCite metadata available in RDF (new mapping, DataCite2RDF available in draft form http://bit.ly/N3VKsx) using a range of SPAR ontologies. He also spoke about a colleagues project to create a we form to help researchers generate DataCite metadata in an easily exportable XML format and finally on the importance of citing data in the reference list as well as in the text, allowing it to be picked up by services like Scopus and Web of Knowledge.
Discussions at the end of the day was centred around versioning and DOIs for subsets if datasets as well as the importance of keeping things machine readable as well as human readable! Overall the was a fascinating day that provided a little of everything, from clear guidance on the basics and essential metadata required for the basic functions to very complex topics showing how far good metadata can take you. Lots of food for thought for the development of our own services!