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Better data, better decisions

I first thought that this was my fourth RDA Plenary, but I think it was my fifth, from Göteborg, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, now to Montreal.

RDA is not a normal conference, with a division between plenary lectures and parallel sessions in blocks of thematic topics. No, it is all about birds-of-a-feather sessions, interest groups or working groups, depending on the status (approved of) and maturity of the group. You need to select what groups or sessions to attend, surely if you are not personally involved in one of these groups.

Is open science starting a revolution? I went to the museum of fine arts to see what happened in the sixties.

That is why the morning session of the second day (I missed the first day because of the DataCite Board Meeting, and a meet-up with Stephanie Gagnon from University of Montreal) was useful for me. It was a quick overview of working groups, being in the middle or at the end of their 18-month period. I bring a few things home to @tudelftlibrary colleagues, e.g.

  • Datacubes, dataarrays – is that something we are working with? For me these were new words, but I am of course not a datalibrarian.
  • Take a look at
    http://www.typeregistry.org.
  • Materials Resource Registries (to make it easier to find and share resources about materials science). Examples at
    NIST
    and
    ChiMaD.
    Note that the software can easily be used for other disciplines. Of course this draws my interest, being a materials science engineer myself.
  • David Wilcox with his research data repository interoperability group is looking for adopters.
  • Anne E Thessen is improving the metadata schema so that curation history can easily be found, and curators can get credit, and valuable work does not need to be repeated (but can be found).

After the Library session (where I presented our RISE self-assessment on behalf of our own Library Research Data Services group), I attended the Make Data Count BOF session. A lot of our colleagues from DataCite were there. Interesting and useful work, i.e., to develop a hub for all data level metrics, so that usage tracking is made easier, throughout all research communities. The first draft COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data has been created and is open for comments. I invite everybody to give their input to this valuable work.

On the third and last day I attended the interest group on education and training for research data handling. There was an overview of available courses and training for support staff on research data handling, or for engaging or guiding the researchers. It was obvious by the eight or some brief talks that there is so much out there, that our own proposal (from Ellen Verbakel @tudelftlibrary together with Irina Kuchina @EIFL) to create a data supporter curriculum, that is based on the research life cycle, seems wise. We want to define the learning goals and competences for the data supporter. The idea is to develop a more unified education, where all the current and present education and training on handling of research data is taken into account. And by the way a tip for ourselves, we should not bypass the Library Carpentry efforts, because here real hands-on work is being stimulated. After reviewing the content of existing courses, we would like to identify and describe the modules missing in these courses. After that we will need to define what modules are mandatory in a course for data supporters. We will also consider the thought of bringing in different levels, a question asked at the workshop. Perhaps I should consider doing a Library carpenter training myself!?

The theme of the conference was “better data, better decisions”. 100% true of course, the better we describe and maintain the data we preserve, the better findable, interoperable and reusable they are, and by doing so every user, also the data producer, can make better decisions.
I mentioned my meeting with Stephanie Gagnon. Talking about better data and better decisions. I read about the big deal cancellations in this blog, and our license manager Marina Lebedeva contacted Stephanie. Being in Montreal was too much of a coincidence, and it was very nice to talk to her. Going through her presentation says it all. From downloads, citations and mentions you can end up with essential journals per discipline for your institute, and that should be the basis of your negotiations. We promised to stay in touch, to enter open access in the equation in Canada/Montreal. Montreal has a good press at the moment in relation to open science, so I am pretty hopeful we will be able to join forces.

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