Curtin Library Rocking the (meta)data (abstract)
ANDS Major Open Data Collection Project
Rocks – get tiny bit of physical sample embedded in resin boxes with QR codes on the side (instead of just writing the label on). Scanner gives you a grain-by-grain analysis of all the minerals in a pinhead-sized bit of rock. Data put onto a desk and gets taken away – while interested researchers have no access. So a goal is to make data open and discoverable – metadata is the key to discovery.
[Some lovely complex diagrams illustrating flow of data and metadata in the project.]
Metadata – both about the scan and about the original rock sample. There isn’t a single “data” vs “metadata” – there’s lots of different kinds of data.
Role of the library in this project included:
- project management – got a compliment that had never been involved in such a tightly run project
- communication and teamwork
- cataloguing, complex data, discovery
- metadata hub
- metadata control
- longterm view. Important to ANDS – researchers tend to look towards paper, project, contract, tenure while libraries look longterm
New library skillsets to learn:
- data management and data publication as servers
- linked data and RIF-CS (schema to describe data)
- geoscientific data (up to a point)
Would probably have similar learning curve for every new project (because from different fields with different types/standards) so need to not be frightened of stuff that we don’t know how to handle.
Software solutions included:
- ReDBox as metadata hub (linked to ANDS Research Data Australia and to ANDS Cite My Data so can produce DOIs
- Bika as laboratory information management system (LIMS)
- web server for data access
“Projects finish and life goes on.” If you don’t have data flowing (eg in a project) then you don’t get to develop the skills. One of the aims of the project was to develop capability.
Great Research Data Scavenger Hunt: small teams whose job it is to find Curtin datasets in the wild but not necessarily being stored longterm or discoverable in Research Data Australia. Team need to trace back to owners and “make an offer they can’t refuse” to get it into the Curtin system.
Carrot for data management plan was you have to develop it if you want to store it on central servers. [I wonder how well this would work esp for small datasets: researchers might decide easier to just buy a thumbdrive / 1TB harddrive, which exacerbates the problems of not knowing what datasets the university has. Simple storage space wouldn’t be enough, needs more features, see question below.]
Q: Any pushback from researchers?
A: No. Pushback would be if they don’t want it described/released: “It’s mine, I haven’t sucked it dry, so you can’t have it.” Started with stuff that was already/wanted to be open, but will probably have holdback if not pushback over time. Helps that funding agencies and editorial boards pushing for open.
Q: Tips for encouraging researchers to write data management plans?
A: Storage space allowed secure collaboration, mapped as a network drive. Also helped that many need to produce for funding requests and ethics approval.