July 2014

Science and Innovation: ESDS Impact study is 1 of 3 Stand-Out Studies Internationally

Our ESDS Impact Study was selected in a recent BIS report as one of just three studies internationally considered to “stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts”.

In case readers haven’t seen it (or like us have a large “to read pile”), we are flagging up the “Big Science and Innovation” report undertaken for the UK Government Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) that was published in October last year (Technopolis 2013 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/big-science-and-innovation–2 ).

The report presents the findings of a study to explore the impact of large research facilities on innovation and the economy. It is a reference document, providing advice about approaches to the evaluation of innovation outcomes alongside a review and bibliography of around 100 past evaluations internationally.

The report mentions our impact study of the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) for the ESRC on pages 31-32, 36, 37 and appendix E on p87. They discuss our strengths and weaknesses on p91 (note our Archaeology Data Service and British Atmospheric Data Centre impact studies were underway but had not reported when this report was being written). They noted the element of the counter factual in our approaches (the only study they found to do so), but do not really mention that we did address the issue of representativeness through weighting the results, and had innovation impacts (highly and implicitly) in the return on investment model.

They identified 18 published reports that had measured the economic benefits made possible by specific research infrastructures, and which they considered to be of sufficient quality to be instructive to BIS and colleagues. John and I were very pleased to be selected and highlighted to BIS as one of just three studies which they considered to stand out as being particularly good examples of good practice in the measurement of economic impacts from all the international studies they reviewed. The three good practice studies were:

  • The economic impact study for the Berkeley Lab (by CBRE Consulting, 2010)
  • The study of the economic impact of the Human Genome Project (by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, 2011)
  • The economic impact evaluation of the Economic and Social Data Service (carried out by Charles Beagrie Ltd and The Centre for Strategic Economic Studies (CSES) University of Victoria, 2012)

On completion of the ESDS, ADS and BADC impact studies, we authored a synthesis to summarise and reflect on the combined findings. This was published by Jisc earlier this year see The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation: A synthesis of three recent studies of UK research data centres. If you are interested in our ESDS impact study and the methods, issues, and findings, we would recommend the synthesis for a short overview and summary of our work. Alternatively, the full report of the ESDS study is available from the ESRC website.

Neil Beagrie and John Houghton

Digital Preservation Technology Watch Reports pass 72,000 Downloads

Last month the new series of Digital Preservation Coalition Technology Watch Reports passed the 72,000 downloads mark: these are downloads by real users excluding robots etc.

The new series was launched publicly in February 2012 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 20,000 downloads (but has been available for longest), followed by Preserving Moving Picture and Sound with over 12,000, and Digital Forensics and Preservation with over 11,000.

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 peer-reviewed 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

Trending: The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation

A colleague has pointed out that our synthesis report for Jisc on the Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation has had over 3,900 downloads since April 2014. You can see the stats and access the report here on the Jisc Repository.

It is great to see that there is a very high level of interest in the topic and report. I’m not sure how that figure compares, but if you have done work for Jisc you should now be able to search or browse the Jisc repository and see the download stats for your own work. Potentially, access to the Jisc repository stats is going to be very useful for those involved in REF or needing to demonstrate their  impact to their institutions and other stakeholders.

Public release of new ‘Preserving eBooks’ Technology Watch Report

We are pleased to announce the publication of Preserving eBooks, the latest in the series of Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) Technology Watch Reports. Written by Portico’s Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey, and published in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd as managing editors, the report discusses the current developments and issues with which public, national and higher education libraries, publishers, aggregators and preservation institutions must contend to ensure long-term access to eBook content.

Archive Services Product Manager for Portico in the USA, Amy explains that “an increasingly ‘digital native’ population with new expectations such as efficient automated search, retrieval and re-use of information, as well as cost pressures on the production and storage of new publications, have made the eBook as a mode of publication a fact on the ground for the foreseeable future.”

With this in mind, the report examines legal questions about the use, re-use, sharing and preservation of eBook objects; format issues, including the sometimes tight coupling of eBook content with particular hardware platforms; the embedding of digital rights management artefacts in eBook files to restrict access to them; and the diverse business ecosystem of eBook publication, with its associated complexities of communities of use and, ultimately, expectations for preservation.

Sheila adds that “while large-scale digitization of print books has created valuable and widely used digital surrogates for those books that are being put to uses impossible with print books, it has also introduced certain quality assurances issues, and has also embroiled institutions in legal entanglements arising from both the eBook’s similarity to, and difference from, its print source.”

Collections Management Officer at the University of North Carolina, Luke Swindler, admires the way the report “sketches the salient issues at levels and in terms that its varied audiences can understand,” and goes on to observe that “a major strength of the report is the recognition of and close attention to the coupling of e-book content with its corresponding software (including intellectual property and digital rights management restrictions) and the hardware/platform envelope.”

While Preserving eBooks will be well received by libraries, scholars and publishers, the report also includes generic lessons in this field of interest for the wider digital preservation community, covering relevant legal, economic and service issues.

You can read Amy Kirchhoff and Sheila Morrissey’s report Preserving eBooks by downloading it from the DPC website here.