Category: DCC News

To the RDMF community…

Dear colleagues,
After ten years (and one week!) I will shortly be leaving the DCC to take on a new, more internally-focused role at Edinburgh, as manager of the university’s Research Data Support team. Before moving on, I wanted to take thi…

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Courtesy of Stephanie Simms at CDL, here’s our bi-monthly update on all things DMP
Image credit: Jon Baglo CC-BY-NC-ND
Our DMPTool and DMPonline services have been humming along with the same underlying code for a couple of months now. Since our MVP release, we’ve shifted gears to more regular sprints. We’re also pleasantly surprised by how eager the wider DMP community has been to join forces in migrating, translating, and even contributing new features already!
Here’s a brief retrospective and a glimpse into the future.
Post MVP Backlog
There is a modest backlog of work that didn’t make into the MVP release. We’ve prioritized these issues and are focused on tying up the loose ends over the coming months. Those following the DMPRoadmap Github repository will notice more regular releases. The goal is to settle into a steady two-week rhythm, but in the near term we’re working on slightly shorter or longer cycles to address critical bugs and some minor refactoring. Many thanks to our users on both sides of the pond who have reported issues and provided overwhelmingly positive feedback so far!
Evolving processes
We’ve been communicating with our respective user communities about new fixes and features as things pertain to them. Some things to note about our evolving development process: 
  • DMPRoadmap GitHub repo: this is where most development work happens since the majority of fixes and features apply to the core codebase. This repository also contains all technical documentation, release notes, and other info for those interested in deploying their own instances or contributing to the project. 
  • The DMPRoadmap wiki has a list of potential future enhancements. We’re collating ideas here and will define priorities and requirements in consultation with the community via user groups and listserv discussions. If you have other desired new features please let us know.
  • Any service-specific customizations reside in separate GitHub repos. For example you can find the custom Single-Sign-On code in the DMPTool GitHub repo. The way in which we handle helpdesk functions varies too. DMPTool users can report issues directly in the DMPTool repo or via the helpdesk. If something pertains to the common codebase, Stephanie will tag the issue and transfer it to DMPRoadmap. For DMPonline users we ask you to report issues via the helpdesk. 
External contributions
Our core dev team is test driving the external contributor guidelines with the French team from DMP OPIDoR. They developed a new feature for a global notification system (e.g., to display maintenance messages, updates to funder templates) that happens to be in our backlog. The new feature looks great and is exactly the kind of contribution we’d like from others. You’ll see it in the next release. Thanks Benjamin and Quentin!
We’re also keen to commence monthly community dev calls to learn about other new features that folks might be planning and keep track of how we collaborate on DMP support across the globe.
We’ll be adding a new translation for Brazilian Portuguese (thanks to Benilton de Sá Carvalho and colleagues at UNICAMP!) and Finnish thanks to DMPTuuli. We’re also reaching out to fill in missing portions of existing translations for other languages since we added so many new features. New translations are always welcome; more information is available on the GitHub wiki and/or contact us.
A machine-actionable future
With the launch milestone behind us, we’re devoting more attention and resources to creating a machine-actionable future for DMPs. Two working groups hosted productive sessions at the recent RDA plenary (DMP Common Standards, Exposing DMPs) that included lightning talk presentations by members of the DMPRoadmap project (slides 44-51). Both of the groups are on track to provide actionable outputs in the next 12 months that will bolster wider community efforts on this front. We will continue participating in both groups as well as begin prototyping things with the NSF EAGER grant awarded to the California Digital Library. Stay tuned for more details via future updates and check out the site to get involved.

Helping train RDM service providers through our upcoming MOOC

As part of a coordinated effort between the DCC and Research Data Netherlands (RDNL), a MOOC is in its early stages of development with a working title of “Delivering RDM services”. Our aim is to give some pointers to research support staff…

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…