First objective of the JISC-supported Sonex initiative was to identify and analyse deposit opportunities (use cases) for ingest of research papers (and potentially other scholarly work) into repositories. Later on, the project scope widened to include identification and dissemination of various projects being developed at institutions in relation to the deposit usecases previously analyzed. Finally, Sonex was recently asked to extend its analysis of deposit opportunities to research data.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Thematic parallel session on metadata - actions to be taken

  On Day II of the JISC MRD Programme 2011-13 launch event in Nottingham, last Dec 2nd, specific subject-based discussion sessions were held among the different JISCMRD02 Projects for research data management in order to promote synergies and joint work on common issues. This is a brief report on the outcomes of such discussions at the parallel session on metadata - some other were simultaneously held for Institutional, Life Sciences, Engineering or Archaeology MRD projects, whose discussions have been reported elsewhere (and there are also other posts summarizing talks for this one too).

It was really hard for some of us to pick a single of those groups, since many projects actually belonged to several strands (some lucky ones had also two representatives at the event, it should be noted). The session on metadata was attended, among others, by:

- Anna Clements (U St Andrews)
- Simon Kerridge (U Sunderland)
- Kevin Ginty (U Sunderland)
- Charlotte Pascoe (British Atmospheric Data Centre)
- Pablo de Castro (SONEX Workgroup)
- Simon Hodson (JISC MRD Programme manager)
- David Shotton (U Oxford)
- Louise Corti (UK Data Archive)
- Marco Fabiani (Queen Mary U London)


Metadata standards were repeatedly discussed along the session - there was a joint (and unsuccessful) attempt to recall whether anyone knew about a metadata standard registry available for different disciplines. Representatives from CERIF4Datasets Project, University of Sunderland, mentioned they were using the MEDIN metadata standard for their work in marine sciences data management. The Core Scientific Metadata Model (CSMD) standard, developed at STFC for the I2S2 Project was also mentioned as an interesting approach to multi-disciplinary metadata standard for structural sciences such as Chemistry, Materials Sciences, Earth Sciences or Biochemistry. Finally, the PIMMS Project (BADC/U Reading), mentioned Metafor as a Climate Science metadata standard and their goal of using PIMMS software tool to generate CIM-based content.

At some point the idea catched up that metadata standards should perhaps be mandated by publishers in order to harmonise discipline-specific data description procedures. Publishers are actually involved in several very successful international RDM projects, such as Dryad, but -save for REWARD- are significantly missing in JISCMRD02 projects.

Having previously developed the Semantic Publishing and Referencing (SPAR) Ontologies, David Shotton said he was now working on their extension to CERIF-based metadata description of datasets, which is closely linked to dataset CERIFication work being carried out at the CERIF4Datasets Project.


The following actions were proposed for improving the chances of metadata standard harmonisation - hence enhancing dataset discoverability:

  • Trying to locate (or otherwise collect) an already existing registry of metadata standards for different disciplines, in order to offer researchers from a given discipline an already tested metadata schema they can re-use,

  • Mapping metadata standards to each other aiming to produce a minimum-sufficient-information metadata set that may be widely applicable accross disciplines,

  • Taking steps towards organising a workshop in order to have metadata issues discussed among relevant stakeholders. ANDS Metadata Workshop in 2010 might be a potential source of inspiration for this with all those discipline-based approaches to metadata standards. Proposed dates for this Metadata WS were spring-summer 2012.

Finally, there was a wrap-up by different subject-based project groups which showed strong possibilites for a more stable cooperation among them (Biomedical/Healthcare projects even discussed the possibiity of building a common wiki). Some cooperation frameworks (googlegroups, mailing lists) might be set for promoting this disciplinar trans-project collaboration. Regarding the metadata strand, it should be noted it was also an issue in discussions held at most subject-specific workgroups, so it would potentially allow contributions from all of them.

Friday, 2 December 2011

The dawn of a new JISC MRD programme - Day I

  After a successful first stage of the JISC Managing Research Data (MRD) Programme (2009-2011), a second phase of JISC MRD was launched yesterday at the NCSL Conference Centre in Nottingham, along a 2-day event that will continue today. JISC MRD02 Programme includes 27 projects classified in three different strands:

Strand A. Research Data Management Infrastructure: 17 projects, to be completed from Mar to Jul 2013, comprising Institutional Pilot projects, Institutional Embedding and Transition to Service projects, Disciplinary projects for creative arts and archaeology, and a Metadata project,

Strand B. RDM Planning: 8 projects running until Mar 2012, aiming to design and implement data management plans and supporting services for researchers,

Strand C. Enhancing DMPOnline projects: 2 projects, aiming to customize and enhance the DCC DMPOnline Tool to improve its interaction with institutional/ disciplinary information systems).

It is worth noting that a number of funded RDM projects along this 2nd programme stage are building upon previous pilot work (projects carried out along JISC MRD programme 2007-2011) in order to for instance extend and embed data management services accross the whole institution.

On describing the research data management programme, Simon Hodson, JISC MRD programme manager mentioned there will be two further JISC MRD calls as early as Jan 2012, dealing with:

- Research data publications, aiming to build partnerships among involved stakeholders and encouraging data citation and publication,

- RDM Train, aiming to design and implement data management training strategies for specific disciplines and support roles (including librarians), to be performed by linking to professional bodies.

Emphasis will also be made along this 2nd JISC MRD programme stage on evidence gahering for project benefits and impact. A session devoted to these issues will be held on Dec 2nd, with practical work with both the Benefits Framework Tool and the Value Chain Impacts Tool. Developing metrics for measuring project impact is a specific programme goal along this 2nd implementation stage.

Project blogging

Another JISCMRD02 main objective -and closely related to impact measurement- is promotion of project dissemination and interaction among themselves and with the broader community via blogging. A specific presentation on 'blogging practices to support project work' was delivered for the purpose by Brian Kelly, UKOLN. The presentation highlighted the relevance of publishing project blogposts as an alternative means of expression to writing research papers or code, and engaged the audience in finding shared views regarding potential benefits blogging may bring to RDM projects, also providing some useful technical advice along the way.

Subsequent discussion focused on pros and cons of blogging as a communication technique (both from regular bloggers' and researchers' viewpoint), as well as on potential advantages of JISCMRD project blog aggregation, with a common RSS feed embedded back into the JISC site.

Parallel sessions and poster-session networking

Two parallel sessions came afterwards, dealing with two principal RDM issues: a first one on DCC Tools, introducing Data Asset Framework (DAF), DMPOnline and CARDIO, and summarized by Paul Stainthorp, U Lincoln, on his JISCMRD02 Day I blogpost.

The 2nd parallel session dealt with UMF Tools and related RDM projects. This 2nd session featured presentations by John Milner on JANET Brokerage and Andy Powell on Eduserv Cloud Pilot, along which the strategy for Academic Cloud service implementation was described - based on the "work with the willing" driving line. The Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) -originally developed for utilities such as water or light- will be re-used as purchasing framework for cloud-related services. Regarding Eduserv, a 2-month 'introductory tier' will be available (just for institutions) along the service gradual implementation (storage being currently single-site, with no backups at this pilot stage, though there are plans for offering tape backup for part of the stored infrastructure).

After an interesting Q&A time, in which backup was suggested to be an absolute requirement for the success of the initiative and there were questions on various Eduserv use mode details (such as the possibility of using departmental orders/purchase order instead of credit cards for academic use), five projects from the UMF strand were briefly presented which are already working either based on a SaaS approach or in the cloud, or both: these were BRISSkit (Jonathan Tedds, U Leicester), DataFlow (David Shotton, U Oxford), Smart Research Framework (or ELB software as a service, Tim Parkinson, U Southampton), VIDaaS and YouShare Projects. Slides for these presentations will shortly be available and will be linked from here.

Finally, Day I official programme ended with a poster session and networking event, which meant a really good opportunity for RDM projects to interact with each other and with 'fellow travellers'. Synergies among projects became quite evident when having all them displayed together on a set of panels, and having their representatives available and willing to discuss each project aims, challenges and similarities to others offered a very good chance to get the general picture along with the details, as well as for establishing inter-project liasons that went well over closure time.