December 2013

New Study Shows Availability of Research Data Declines Rapidly with Article Age

A Nature news item “Scientists losing data at a rapid rate“ reports and provides a valuable commentary on, a research article by Timothy Vines et al published today in Current Biology that looked at the availability of research data for Ecology articles over 2-22 years.

The researchers had requested data sets from a relatively homogenous set of 516 Ecology articles published between 2 and 22 years ago, and found that availability of the underlying data was strongly affected by article age. For papers where the authors gave the status of their data, the odds of a data set being extant fell by 17% per year over that period. Availability dropped to as little as 20% for research data from the early 1990s. In addition, the odds that they could find a working e-mail address for the first, last, or corresponding author fell by 7% per year.

Although solely focussed on Ecology, this is an interesting addition to a growing body of research on data sharing and availability, and to the case for archiving initiatives such as Dryad, Figshare, and institutional data repositories when no international or disciplinary archive exists.

Measuring the Value and Impact of Research Data Curation and Sharing

My colleague John Houghton gave an excellent 20 minute Presentation at the October 2013 Open Access Research Conference in Brisbane on recent studies conducted by Charles Beagrie Ltd and Victoria University covering the value and impact of sharing research data via three UK research data centres. I highly recommend it as an accessible, concise, overview. The video of the presentation is now available at https://vimeo.com/82043019

It summarises recent studies exploring the impact and value of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). The aim of the studies was to both assess the costs, benefits, value and impacts of the data centres, and to test a range of economic methods in order to ascertain which methods might work across three very different fields, with very different data production and use practices, and very different user communities. The presentation focuses on the methods used and lessons learned, as well as the headline findings.

As blogged previously the three reports for the ESDS, ADS, and BADC are all available now as individual open-access publications. A short synthesis of all three reports is being published by Jisc in the New Year.

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 50,000 Downloads

Yesterday the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed the 50,000 downloads mark for the first time: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in 2011 with Preserving Email by Chris Prom and there are now 8 titles published since that date. All have proved very popular: Preserving Email still heads the group with over 13,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 9,000, and Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 8,000.

The new series was chosen by the Library of Congress as one of its Top 10 Digital Preservation Developments of 2012.

The reports are published by the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as editors and Neil Beagrie as Principal Investigator and managing editor of the series. The series is intended as an advanced introduction to specific issues for those charged with establishing or running services for long term access.  They identify and track developments in IT, standards and tools which are critical to digital preservation activities. All are released as open-access publications after a preview period of exclusive access to DPC members.

The DPC Technology Watch Report Series publications are freely available online from the DPC website at: http://www.dpconline.org/advice/technology-watch-reports

New services page and website updates

Sharp-eyed regular visitors may have noticed we have made a number of changes and some re-design to the website in recent months.

One major addition has been the Services webpage providing examples of some of the broad areas of work  we undertake and providing a different view of selected projects from our Clients  page.

A batch of updates have also been added to most other sections of the website, including in publications several new reports and book chapters released since the summer.

The re-design changes are quite subtle, so you might need to compare it to an old version in a Web Archive to see them  - perhaps compare with the UK Web Archive April 2012 version. More significant (but “under the hood”) was the move over the summer to a new server and to using Django, a high-level Python Web framework for the coding. Hopefully this was so seamless you will not have noticed the transition.

All comments and feedback welcome!

The Value and Impact of The Archaeology Data Service: findings released on research data sharing and curation

Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd and Professor John Houghton of the Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) are pleased to announce the release of their final report from the Jisc study which examined the value and impact of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS). The aim of this study is to explore and attempt to measure the value and impact of the ADS. A range of economic approaches were used to analyses data gathered through online surveys, and user and depositor statistics, to supplement and extend other non-economic perceptions of value.

The study reveals the benefits of integrating qualitative approaches exploring user perceptions and non-economic dimensions of value with quantitative economic approaches to measuring the value and impacts of research data services. Such a mix of methods is important in capturing and presenting the full range and dimensions of value. The approaches are complementary and mutually reinforcing, with stakeholder perceptions matching the economic findings. For example, both qualitative and quantitative analysis highlights the important contribution of ADS data and services to research efficiency.

The study has changed stakeholder perceptions, increasing recognition of the value of the ADS and digital archiving and data sharing generally. Most stakeholders already valued ADS highly, but felt the study had extended their understanding of the scope of that value, and the degree of its value to other stakeholders. They were positive about seeing value expressed in economic terms, as this was something they had not previously considered or seen presented,

The report is available for download as a PDF file at: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/5509/1/ADSReport_final.pdf

This report forms part of a series of independent studies produced by the authors on the value and impact of three UK research data centres. The other data centres already reported upon are the Economic and Social Research Data Service (ESDS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). To summarise and facilitate dissemination of the key findings from all three data centre studies a separate synthesis is currently being prepared by Jisc.