Because good research needs good data

Australian Digital Futures Institute launches "Data Bites"

A new blog from the Australian Digital Futures Institute titled Data Bites offers a platform to projects funded by ANDS, the Australian National Data Service. The blog is intended for updates on these projects and has a temporary url at: .

A Whyte | 23 August 2010

First post on the Data Bites blog from Peter Sefton and Vicki Picasso is an overview of their project at University of Southern Queensland, variously known as EIF-040, ReDBox and Ingect. They have yet to decide, but ReDBox (Research Data Box) describes the purpose of this system, which they describe as "similar to an institutional repository ... except that instead of the system being full of PDF versions of research publications and theses, it’s going to contain descriptions of research data collections".

The architecture they go on to describe is being constructed with partners University of Newcastle and Swinburne University of Technology, and sits alongside the former's IR as a management interface. The idea is to push metadata on data collections into the repository, for harvesting into the national 'data commons' a portal named Research Data Australia being developed by ANDS. Rather than relying solely on researchers identifying their own data collections to the repository, the ReDBox model's ingest process is to respond to "a number of institutional triggers that can alert us to the presence of research data. These triggers will form the basis of an investigation. Institutional triggers can be about each institution’s environment and processes." Examples are alerts from the institution's grants database, and a "watcher service" running on their research storage utility.  Also promised is a 'Linked Authority Control Service' service, to produce linked-data ready collection descriptions.

The "investigation" part of this model has research data librarians investigating the alerts coming into the system. They then "follow up with data interviews to ‘tell the story’ of the data collection. During the project we will be employing a Research Data Librarian to work on these things however the long term sustainable model is for the Faculty Librarians to support this service into the future, and for the library to be involved in the support of data management".

The ReDBox application is "designed to be usable at any institution", and (presumably) beyond the realms of Research Data Australia to any nationally or international service publishing research metadata. But probably the most readily transferable lessons beyond the ANDS community will be around the investigatory  part of the model ... with much depending on whether the research activity 'triggers' coincide with researchers' interest and readiness to tell a story that travels well.