Category: DCC News

Equality won’t happen by itself: our attempt to address it at IDCC

And so it began…

We’ve made a concerted effort over the years to be representative at IDCC, largely thanks to Liz Lyon’s shaping of the conference programme, and I feel we’ve been successful in creating an open, welcoming atmosphere where all delegates are able to share their ideas and build new collaborations, irrespective of their backgrounds. There’s always more you can do though.

I saw a Tweet about the Carter et al research into women’s participation in asking questions at seminars and was intrigued that something as simple as preferencing who got to ask the first question could have such an effect. I know from experience that I’ve often had a question but not been able to pluck up the courage to ask. Would I really feel more confident by hearing others like me go first?

We honestly didn’t know what the reaction would be. I expected it to be obvious that we’d invited all-female chairs and to get some kickback about positive discrimination, but only Rachael Kotarski noticed and commented on this pre-conference. Others remarked on how many female speakers there were, but gender equality wasn’t really a topic until Kevin shared statistics on it in his closing remarks.

Those closing remarks followed a powerful and emotive keynote by Nancy McGovern. I’d proposed inviting her but to my shame hadn’t looked at what she was going to cover. I assumed it would be about digital preservation, but her personal reflections on community building, radical collaboration and inclusivity couldn’t have been a more perfect close to the event. Nancy put forward an impassioned and eloquent argument that diversity of all kinds enriches the communities we are part of and the progress they make. We should always have a broad table and come to collaborations in a spirit of being truly open-minded, willing to listen, compromise and be challenged.

Last year I was invited to sit on the FAIR Data Expert Group by the European Commission. I was initially surprised and a little daunted by the breadth of experience and seniority of other members. I hadn’t identified myself as part of that particular community and had to overcome a number of barriers in my own mind to accept. It’s testament to the other members of the Group, and particularly Simon Hodson in his style of chairing, that I’ve felt welcomed, empowered to state my opinions, and unfazed when these are challenged. The experience has helped me to acknowledge the value of my expertise and appreciate why I was invited in the first place.

All of the fora we engage in as a community should be diverse, open and inclusive. Unconscious bias and self-limiting behaviours are really hard to overcome, but it is incumbent on all of us to act respectfully, call out unfair treatment, and support everyone to make their contribution, irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other factors. Tiny changes will slowly adjust the culture and they are easy to make.

Melanie Imming asked whether the experiment we did had been more work. In contrast I think it actually made things easier. We have a good gender balance at IDCC (59% of this year’s participants were female) and there was no shortage of really well-suited options for chairs. In fact we had a large reserve list, but no need to call on it. Everyone accepted the invite and did so immediately. No hanging around and chasing up offers. We gave very minimal session chair guidelines and let things run a natural course.

Speaking to the chairs at the conference, I found that several had experienced multiple emotions like me – surprise at being asked, slight anxiety, excitement, pride, and happiness to be able to give something back to the community that had helped them. As to whether the experiment paid off I don’t know. We weren’t scientific in counting audience members and questions, but I for one asked more questions than I ever have at a conference before. I hope our actions have empowered others to value their opinions more highly and feel confident enough to express them. This is what will drive us forward.

Pizza Party!

The DMPTool team has embarked on a major housekeeping effort in order to migrate to the DMPRoadmap platform in February 2018. Last week they began a global audit of the funder templates and guidance in an all-day pizza-fueled event that amounted to a h…

Endangered digital content list released by DPC for International Digital Preservation Day

Today, 30th November 2017, is the first International Digital Preservation Day. This is coordinated by the Digital Preservation Coalition, an organisation we’re proud to be a member of. As part of the day’s activity the DPC has released the BitList, a list of endangered digital species loosely modelled as a concept on the IUCN’s Red List. In this short blog post I highlight some of the items on the list of particular interest to the DCC community.

Like the Red List, the Bit List classifies materials at different levels, from lower risk through concern to critically endangered and practically extinct. At one level everything on the list is of concern to research; almost any type of digital content, from teletext to videogames, has the potential for research to be carried out on it. But some are particularly close to home for those concerned with the curation of digital research material. Two items on the critically-endangered list stand out. The first is unpublished research outputs, which includes research data that hasn’t been placed in a repository, research software, and community resources like that may face sustainability rather than technical challenges to their longevity. Another item on the critically-endangered list that’s of undoubted research interest is what’s described as ‘media art’, encompassing a variety of digital and interactive art forms with a significant degree of technological dependency. The fragility of some forms of art isn’t something that’s exclusive to the digital domain but it is one which acquires an increasing degree of urgency when art is dependent on sometimes obscure formats, hardware and software, and the loss of such art will leave a significant gap for art historians of the future.

Also on the critical list and of unquestionable research interest is gaming, virtual worlds and related forms. These have been a significant cultural form for well over a decade; measured by consumer spend alone they exceed the cultural significance of the film industry, which itself is increasingly derivative of the gaming world. The problems of preservation they pose aren’t purely technical, but also include challenges relating to intellectual property rights and their absence from the collecting mandates of most cultural heritage institutions.

Moving up to the next level of endangerment – those which are merely endangered – we encounter many more classes of material of concern to research. Published research outputs, including electronic journals, are on this list and work by our colleagues on the Keepers Registry makes clear why they should be. This is an area where it is all too easy to be complacent. But every other item on the endangered list will worry researchers. It includes corporate records, digital legal records, master radio recordings, many forms of digital music and born-digital records from local government and smaller government agencies, where the infrastructure and mandate which deals with the products of national government are often absent.

There’s much more to read about in this first edition of the Bit List. As with the IUCN, the DPC intends to update the list periodically both to celebrate those areas where attention has resulted in positive changes to risk and to highlight those digital ‘species’ which are newly endangered. Read the list both to see what action you might take to improve the chances of survival of some of those on it, and to see if you are aware of other types of digital content at risk that we should add in future years.


Roll up, roll up! Get yer DMP update here.

Image Paper seller and bench CC-BY-NC-ND By Henry…
Last month saw a busy Active DMPs and Domain Repositories Interest Groups joint session at the RDA Plenary at Montreal. Two new working groups have been launched to advance work in this area: one on…

DMPRoadmap summer camp news

Image credit: Airstream CC-BY-NC by dwstucke
This summer we’ve made solid progress toward our DMPRoadmap MVP, done oodles of outreach for machine-actionable DMPs, and addressed some DMPTool and DMPonline-specific items. Keep reading for t…

On the right track(s) – DCC release draws nigh

Eurostar by red hand records CC-BY-ND
Preliminary DMPRoadmap out to test
We’ve made a major breakthrough this month, getting a preliminary version of the DMPRoadmap code out to test on DMPonline, DMPTuuli and DMPMelbourne. This has taken longer …

RDA-DMP movings and shakings

An update on RDA and our Active DMP work, courtesy of Stephanie Simms

RDA Plenary 9 
We had another productive gathering of #ActiveDMPs enthusiasts at the Research Data Alliance (RDA) plenary meeting in Barcelona (5-7 Apr). Just prior to the meet…

Active, actionable DMPs

Roadmap project IDCC briefing
We had a spectacularly productive IDCC last month thanks to everyone who participated in the various meetings and events focused on the DMPRoadmap project and machine-actionable DMPs. Thank you, thank you! Sarah has since …

Roadmap retrospective: 2016

Here’s an update on DMPRoadmap, courtesy of Stephanie Simms at CDL
2016 in review
The past year has been a wild ride, in more ways than one… Despite our respective political climates, UC3 and DCC remain enthusiastic about our partnership and the future of DMPs. Below is a brief retrospective about where we’ve been in 2016 and a roadmap (if you will…we also wish we’d chosen a different name for our joint project) for where we’re going in 2017. Jump to the end if you just want to know how to get involved with DMP events at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC 2017, 20–23 Feb in Edinburgh, register here).
In 2016 we consolidated our UC3-DCC project team, our plans for the merged platform (see the roadmap to MVP), and began testing a co-development process that will provide a framework for community contributions down the line. We’re plowing through the list of features and adding documentation to the GitHub repo—all are invited to join us at IDCC 2017 for presentations and demos of our progress to date (papers, slides, etc. will all be posted after the event). For those not attending IDCC, please let us know if you have ideas, questions, anything at all to contribute ahead of the event!
DMPs sans frontières 
Now we’d like to take a minute and reflect on events of the past year, particularly in the realm of open data policies, and the implications for DMPs and data management writ large. The open scholarship revolution has progressed to a point where top-level policies mandate open access to the results of government-funded research, including research data, in the US, UK, and EU, with similar principles and policies gaining momentum in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere. DMPs are the primary vehicle for complying with these policies, and because research is a global enterprise, awareness of DMPs has spread throughout the research community. Another encouraging development is the ubiquity of the term FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which suggests that we’re all in agreement about what we’re trying to achieve.
On top of the accumulation of national data policies, 2016 ushered in a series of related developments in openness that contribute to the DMP conversation. To name a few:
  • More publishers articulated clear data policies, e.g., Springer Nature Research Data Policies apply to over 600 journals.
  • PLOS now requires an ORCID for all corresponding authors at the time of manuscript submission to promote discoverability and credit.
  • The Gates Foundation reinforced support for open access and open data by preventing funded researchers from publishing in journals that do not comply with its policy, which came into force at the beginning of 2017; this includes non-compliant high-impact journals such as Science, Nature, PNAS, and NEJM.
  • Researchers throughout the world continued to circumvent subscription access to scholarly literature by using Sci-Hub (Bohannon, 2016).
  • Library consortia in Germany and Taiwan canceled (or threatened to cancel) subscriptions to Elsevier journals because of open-access related conflicts, and Peru canceled over a lack of government funding for expensive paid access (Schiermeier and Rodríguez Mega, 2017).
  • Reproducibility continued to gain prominence, e.g., the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility came into force for most NIH and AHRQ grant proposals received in 2016.
  • The Software Citation Principles (Smith et al., 2016) recognized software as an important product of modern research that needs to be managed alongside data and other outputs.
This flurry of open scholarship activity, both top-down and bottom-up, across all stakeholders continues to drive adoption of our services. DMPonline and the DMPTool were developed in 2011 to support open data policies in the UK and US, respectively, but today our organizations engage with users throughout the world. An upsurge in international users is evident from email addresses for new accounts and web analytics. In addition, local installations of our open source tools, as both national and institutional services, continue to multiply (see a complete list here). 
Over the past year, the DMP community has validated our decision to consolidate our efforts by merging our technical platforms and coordinating outreach activities. The DMPRoadmap project feeds into a larger goal of harnessing the work of international DMP projects to benefit the entire community. We’re also engaged with some vibrant international working groups (e.g., Research Data Alliance Active DMPs, FORCE11 FAIR DMPs, Data Documentation Initiative DMP Metadata group) that have provided the opportunity to begin developing use cases for machine-actionable DMPs. So far the use cases encompass a controlled vocabulary for DMPs; integrations with other systems (e.g., Zenodo, Dataverse, Figshare, OSF, PURE, grant management systems, electronic lab notebooks); passing information to/from repositories; leveraging persistent identifiers (PIDs); and building APIs. 
2017 things to come
This brings us to outlining plans for 2017 and charting a course for DMPs of the future. DCC will be running the new Roadmap code soon. And once we’ve added everything from the development roadmap, the DMPTool will announce our plans for migration. At IDCC we’ll kick off the conversation about bringing the many local installations of our tools along for the ride to actualize the vision of a core, international DMP infrastructure. A Canadian and a French team are our gracious guinea pigs for testing the draft external contributor guidelines.
There will be plenty of opportunities to connect with us at IDCC. If you’re going to be at the main conference, we encourage you to attend our practice paper and/or join a DMP session we’ll be running in parallel with the BoFs on Wednesday afternoon, 22 Feb. The session will begin with a demo and update on DMPRoadmap; then we’ll break into two parallel tracks. One track will be for developers to learn more about recent data model changes and developer guidelines if they want to contribute to the code. The other track will be a buffet of DMP discussion groups. Given the overwhelming level of interest in the workshop (details below), one of these groups will cover machine-actionable DMPs. We’ll give a brief report on the workshop and invite others to feed into discussion. The other groups are likely to cover training/supporting DMPs, evaluation cribsheets for reviewing DMPs, or other topics per community requests. If there’s something you’d like to propose please let us know!
IDCC DMP utopia workshop
We’re also hosting a workshop on Monday, 20 Feb entitled “A postcard from the future: Tools and services from a perfect DMP world.” The focus will be on machine-actionable DMPs and how to integrate DMP tools into existing research workflows and services.  
The program includes presentations, activities, and discussion to address questions such as:
  • Where and how do DMPs fit in the overall research lifecycle (i.e., beyond grant proposals)?
  • Which data could be fed automatically from other systems into DMPs (or vice versa)?
  • What information can be validated automatically?
  • Which systems/services should connect with DMP tools?
  • What are the priorities for integrations?
We’ve gathered an international cohort of diverse players in the DMP game—repository managers, data librarians, funders, researchers, developers, etc.—to continue developing machine-actionable use cases and craft a vision for a DMP utopia of the future. We apologize again that we weren’t able to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate in the workshop, but rest assured that we plan to share all of the outputs and will likely convene similar events in the future. 
Keep a lookout for more detailed information about the workshop program in the coming weeks and feel free to continue providing input before, during, and afterward. This is absolutely a community-driven effort and we look forward to continuing our collaborations into the new year!

DMP themes: And then there were 14…

We issued a call for input on the DMP themes in late September and received feedback from across the UK, Europe and the USA. Many thanks to all who responded. It’s really helped to confirm our thinking.
We asked a few specific questions: