e-Research

New Resources page on Charles Beagrie Website

We have produced a new resources pages on our website describing all the outputs we have produced which are publicly available and accessible on open access to students and practitioners interested in our work. Areas described include Cost/Benefit, Impact, Technology Watch, Digital Preservation Policies and Strategies. Conference presentations, and other digital preservation resources. These are linked either to outputs on our website or on the websites of clients and partners. An extract of the page is shown below.

Breaking News: Digital Preservation Handbook Update October 2015

Originally published in 2001 as a paper edition, ‘Preservation and Management of Digital Materials: a Handbook’ was the first attempt in the UK to synthesise the diverse and burgeoning sources of advice on digital preservation. Demand was so great that in 2002, a free online edition of the Handbook was published by the newly established Digital Preservation Coalition.

After more than a decade, in which digital preservation has been transformed, the Handbook remains among the most heavily used area of the DPC website.

Funders and organisations are collaborating on re-designing, expanding and updating the Handbook so it can continue to grow as a major open-access resource for digital preservation. The DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd have been engaged on a major re-working of the Digital Preservation Handbook for release as a new edition over 2015/2016. The National Archives (our Gold Sponsor) working together with other stakeholders including Jisc, the British Library, and The Archives and Records Association (our Bronze sponsors), is supporting the Digital Preservation Coalition in updating and revamping the Handbook. Many individuals and organisations are also contributing to this work through book sprints, peer review, project and advisory boards.

The revision, guided by the user feedback and consultation (see Report on the Preparatory User Consultation on the 2nd Edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook), is modular and being undertaken over a two year period to March 2016.

We have provided updates at regular intervals to inform the community on progress with the project and with this October update we are delighted to announce a number of key developments.

Publication Schedule

We are pleased to share the news that a critical mass of content has been prepared and peer reviewed and the project board has agreed we should release a majority of the Handbook.  DPC members have already seen the emerging revised 2nd Edition of the Handbook on the members’ private area and this has been switched to the public side of the DPC website. This partial release will be further enhanced by additional functionality when a new platform for the website focused on ‘responsive design’ is brought on stream by the DPC early in 2016. This will provide an updated design and improved user experience on mobile and tablet devices, compared to the current site templates that are optimised for viewing on a desktop screen. We will also add the facility to generate PDFs. We hope to complete remaining sections of the Handbook for a formal full publication release of the Handbook by March 2016. In the interim some functionality and content will remain “works in progress” but the community will gain early access to a significant new resource.

ARA joins funding group

The Digital Preservation Coalition was delighted to announce in September that The Archives and Records Association (ARA) had come on board as a ‘Bronze Sponsor’ for the eagerly anticipated second edition of the ‘Digital Preservation Handbook’. As of Oct 2015, with the addition of the ARA we have raised 87% of estimated funding required for the Handbook revision and continue working to complete it.

Section Illustrations and icons

We are using graphics available from digitalbevaring.dk (http://digitalbevaring.dk/about-us/) for main sections of the Handbook. They have kindly worked in collaboration with us to develop new illustrations when we have identified topics in the Handbook requiring new graphics for illustrations or icons.

New resources icon designs were received over the summer from digitalbevaring.dk  and the interim versions have been replaced in the Handbook. These are the new set:            

 

They are embedded now in all the Resources and Case Studies sections of the Handbook. It means there is now a consistent style to the Handbook with the icons and section heading illustrations sharing the same design, something we all felt was desirable. We are very pleased with the results and overall look that is now in place, and with the collaboration with digitalbevaring.dk that has added a lot to the visual appeal of the Handbook.

Multi-media

Multi-media resources where relevant have been selected and embedded in the Handbook. Selection has focussed on short, high-quality videos that can add significant value to experience and content.

Handbook Workshop at DCDC15

A workshop on the Digital Preservation Handbook was run at the DCDC15 conference in early October. Powerpoint slides from the Handbook presentation are now available on Slideshare. They provide a detailed overview of the new edition Handbook and work in progress.

 

20 years in DP: eScience and Digital Preservation 2004

eScience and Digital Preservation, presentation to Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIST) conference November 2004, Rhode Island USA, available now on Slideshare is the sixth of 12 presentations I’ve selected to mark 20 years in Digital Preservation. The remainder will be published at monthly intervals over 2015.

It is closely related to the previous slideshare for May on the Jisc continuing access and digital preservation strategy but focuses just on the science component.

This is one I wasn’t able to present in person but it was kindly delivered by Gail Hodge.

My brief for the presentation was “thoughts or citations you have for the impact of e-science, particularly the GRID, on information management, particularly archiving, preservation and long-term access.”

It is a short presentation of 15 slides covering collection-based science, the Grid, data publishing, and the background and rationale for the Digital Curation Centre (just launched two weeks before in the UK).

It is a snapshot in time and of key issues in 2004 – interesting to contrast with what one would write 10 years on and ponder on progress made.

Survey results and the contents outline for new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook just published

A big thank-you from Neil Beagrie and William Kilbride to everyone who contributed to the recent audience research survey or who  commented on the potential contents outline for the new edition of the Digital Preservation Handbook.

Following that work, the DPC and Charles Beagrie Ltd are delighted to announce the release two important documents which will form the foundations of the new edition of the DPC Digital Preservation Handbook: the results of a major survey into audience needs, an the first full outline of content.

‘We are very keen to make sure that the new edition of the handbook fits with people’s actual needs so we were very encouraged by the substantial response to the consultation document which we sent out before summer’ explained Neil Beagrie who is editor and lead author of the new edition of the handbook. ‘We estimate that the digital preservation community represented on the JiscMail list numbers around 1500 people in total: and there were 285 responses to the survey.’

‘It a very large sample of the community but it’s also re-assuringly diverse.  There’s a strong representation from higher education and public sector agencies but there’s also a sizeable group from industry, from charities as well as museums and community interest groups.  When asked if they would use the handbook, not a single respondent said no.’

‘The survey has directly informed the contents of the new handbook’, explained William Kilbride, Execuitve Director of the DPC.  ‘We started with an idea of the gaps and the many parts that had become outdated since the original handbook was published.  So we invited users to tell us what they wanted and how they wanted it – both in terms of content and presentation.  The project team has responded thoughtfully to these requests so I am confident that the resulting list of content is tailored to people’s needs. But we remain open to suggestions and comments’

‘This will help ensure that the handbook remains relevant for many years to come.’

The two documents are available as follows:

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

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.

New Research: The value and impact of data curation and sharing

Substantial resources are being invested in the development and provision of services for the curation and long-term preservation of research data. It is a high priority area for many stakeholders, and there is strong interest in establishing the value and sustainability of these investments.

A 24 page synthesis report published today aims to summarise and reflect on the findings from a series of recent studies, conducted by Neil Beagrie of Charles Beagrie Ltd. and Prof. John Houghton of Victoria University, into the value and impact of three well established research data centres – the Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS), the Archaeology Data Service (ADS), and the British Atmospheric Data Centre (BADC). It provides a summary of the key findings from new research and reflects on: the methods that can be used to collect data for such studies; the analytical methods that can be used to explore value, impacts, costs and benefits; and the lessons learnt and recommendations arising from the series of studies as a whole.

The data centre studies combined quantitative and qualitative approaches in order to quantify value in economic terms and present other, non-economic, impacts and benefits. Uniquely, the studies cover both users and depositors of data, and we believe the surveys of depositors undertaken are the first of their kind. All three studies show a similar pattern of findings, with data sharing via the data centres having a large measurable impact on research efficiency and on return on investment in the data and services. These findings are important for funders, both for making the economic case for investment in data curation and sharing and research data infrastructure, and for ensuring the sustainability of such research data centres.

The quantitative economic analysis indicates that:

  • The value to users exceeds the investment made in data sharing and curation via the centres in all three cases – with the benefits from 2.2 to 2.7 times the costs;
  • Very significant increases in work efficiency are realised by users as a result of their use of the data centres – with efficiency gains from 2 to 20 times the costs; and
  • By facilitating additional use, the data centres significantly increase the returns on investment in the creation/collection of the data hosted – with increases in returns from 2 to 12 times the costs.

The qualitative analysis indicates that:

  • Academic users report that the centres are very or extremely important for their research, with between 53% and 61% of respondents across the three surveys reporting that it would have a major or severe impact on their work if they could not access the data and services; and
  • For depositors, having the data preserved for the long-term and its dissemination being targeted to the academic community are seen as the most beneficial aspects of depositing data with the centres.

An important aim of the studies was to contribute to the further development of impact evaluation methods that can provide estimates of the value and benefits of research data sharing and curation infrastructure investments. This synthesis reflects on lessons learnt and provides a set of recommendations that could help develop future studies of this type.

The synthesis report

Beagrie, N. and Houghton J.W. (2014) The Value and Impact of Data Sharing and Curation: A synthesis of three recent studies of UK research data centres, Jisc. PDF (24 pages)

 

What is the Impact of Research Data in the Arts and Humanities?

The AHRC periodically commissions case studies to investigate the impact and value of AHRC-funded research. Across the series as a whole, impact has been defined in its broadest sense to include, economic, social, and cultural elements. The latest AHRC case study, Safeguarding our heritage for the future, focuses on the impact of data sharing and curation through the Archaeology Data Service.

It cites some of the Jisc-funded “The Value and Impact of the Archaeology Data Service: A study and methods for enhancing sustainability” study by ourselves and John Houghton.

There is the headline research efficiency impact message on page 1 and the relevant detail on page 2 of the case study as follows:

“JISC commissioned research carried out in 2012 found that the ADS has a broad user group which goes well beyond academia: whilst 38% of users are conducting academic research, 19% use ADS for private research;17% for general interest enquiries; 11% are Heritage Management users and 8% are commercial users; 6% use it to support teaching and learning activities; and 1% use it for family history research. The ADS is respected as an invaluable resource, saving users time and therefore money, and providing security for those who use the service to deposit their data. A significant increase in research efficiency was reported by users as a result of using the ADS, worth at least £13 million per annum – five times the costs of operation, data deposit and use. A potential increase in return on investment resulting from the additional use facilitated by ADS may be worth between £2.4 million and £9.7 million over thirty years in net present value from one-year’s investment – a 2-fold to 8-fold return on investment.”

The pdf version of the Safeguarding our heritage for the future case study  is available for download on the AHRC website.

AHRC Case Study

 

 

Science, Publishers and Libraries – The Future of the Article?

Last month I attended an excellent Academic Publishing in Europe 2014 conference in Berlin on the theme of “Redefining the Scientific Record: The Future of the Article, Big Data & Metrics” . Also notable was the inclusion for the first time at the conference, of a full session devoted to preservation of e-journals and the scientific record.

The preservation session on Permanent Access to the Record of Science was organised by Marcel Ras (Netherlands Coalition for Digital Preservation – NCDD) and the KB (the Dutch National Library). The Powerpoint presentations are now available with a blog post on the conference on the NCDD site. The presentations are overviews of the state of the art  and present the problem from the perspectives of different stakeholders:

The problem.  An introduction to Preservation, Trust and Continuing Access for e-Journals – from me – expanding on my recent DPC Tech Watch devoted to e-Journals

Ensuring access to the record of science: driving changes in the role of research libraries  – from Susan Reilly (LIBER)

The Publisher. Remaining Future-proof: Publishers and Digital Preservation – from Eefke Smit (STM Publishers)

The Archivist. Ensuring the Scholarly Record is kept safe: measured Progress with Serials – from Peter Burnhill (EDINA)

If you are interested in the other themes of the conference such as data publishing (I was!), a selection of the discussions were also video recorded and are available online here.

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.

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