Blogs

Open Data... Open Season?

Peter Murray Rust is an enthusiastic advocate of Open Data (the discussion runs right through his blog, this link is just to one of his articles that is close to the subject). I understand him to want to make science data openly accessible for scientific access and re-use. It sounds a pretty good thing! Are there significant downsides?

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Government responds to UK Science Funding petition

8,623 people signed the petition to the UK Government on the £68 million funding reduction to science. The Government has just published a response. After some phrases indicating that the science budget continues to rise, the key paragraph is:

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Very long term data

Rothamsted Research is an agricultural research organisation based near Harpenden in England. There are many interesting features of this organisation (only a few of which I know), including its “classical experiments". One of these, started in 1843, must surely be one of the longest-running experiments with resulting time-series data anywhere.

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Open Access everyone? Or not?

I occasionally look at the OpenDOAR service, which list information about repositories, and check out those which claim to include data (the term they use is datasets, although it is possible that “other” might also be applicable!).

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UKDA 40th Birthday: back to basics?

There are not many digital data management organisations that can claim 40 years of continuous service. This week the UK Data Archive (UKDA, which holds mainly social science datasets) celebrates 40 years since its founding in 1967, with a party yesterday in the House of Commons followed by a small workshop in the UKDA’s fancy new quarters at the University of Essex.

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On blog authorship and (un)certainty

There's a difference between a blog and an article, and it seems to me it's about certainty. Why should I write this blog? It could be to record trivial events, it could be self-aggrandisement, but I think it's about dealing with uncertainty. If I were fully convinced about the detail, I guess I would write an article and submit it to a journal. But generally I'm speculating a bit; trying to focus my mind by writing something out as clearly as I can for an unknown audience (an audience that has the power to answer back).

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Representation Information: what is it and why is it important?

Representation Information is a key and often misunderstood concept. To understand it, we need to look at some definitions. First of all, OAIS (CCSDS 2002) defines data thus:“Data: A reinterpretable representation of information in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing.”Second, we have Information:

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Authenticity across migrations

I discovered a few days ago that I have 4 digital objects that are (I believe, but am not certain) in some strong senses “the same” (in their information content), but which are also completely different (in their bits). These objects are the result of a chain of “exports” and “imports”, and “save as…” operations, prompted partly by a change of technology (from a Windows PC running Mind Manager to a Macintosh running NovaMind), and partly from a need to make the content of the object more accessible to colleagues who do not use either software package.

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OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data

Drafts of the OECD’s Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research data from Public Funding (OECD, 2007) have been available for some time, and the final Recommendation was approved in December 2006. I have only recently had the chance to read the report that details and explains this recommendation. This is a very important document, which could have a major effect on our scientific information systems.The arguments they put forward in support of the Recommendation are powerful:

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Building expertise in digital curation and preservation

It’s curious when something new has been around for 30 years or so. However, that’s the paradoxical case with digital curation. The term itself is relatively new, and there is still (as usual) confusion as to what exactly it means. But taking the simple definition (maintaining and adding value to a trusted body of digital information over the life-cycle of scholarly and scientific materials, for current and future use), it is clear that some disciplines have had organisations doing this for many years.

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