Data Stewardship and Research Data Services in the Library

Data Stewardship and Research Data Services in the Library:
Where are we now and where are we going next?
A background & discussion document for the
University Library Faculty/AP Un-Retreat — January 7, 2014
Prepared by Tim Cole, Jennifer Teper, Bill Mischo, Tom Habing
The Library's Strategic Initiatives for FY12-141 set a goal to "Support Digital Scholarship," including "the
emerging needs of students and scholars engaged in e-science and other forms of digital scholarship."
Work towards this objective is helping us be responsive to funder mandates for digital data management,
reuse & sharing (e.g., NSF2, NIH3) and aligns well with the University's Visioning Future Excellence,4
which recommended a new strategic investment initiative to "Develop a Research Data Service and
accompanying research and education initiative in the curation, use, and dissemination of large amounts
of data." From 2011, to help achieve Library & Campus-wide goals in regard to data stewardship, the
Library has begun assigning resources to curate research data and to provide other research data services
supportive of the Illinois Research Data Initiative5 and various subsequent initiatives.
Over the past 2 years progress has been made. A Library eResearch Task Force was charged in 2012,6
with findings presented to the Library faculty in November 20127 and a final report deposited in IDEALs
in December 2012.8 A permanent Library eResearch Implementation Committee has been charged with a
mandate to advance the Library's research data initiatives.9 A Research Data Services Interest Group
(with listserv10) has been formed in the Library. An ad hoc committee comprised of representatives from
multiple campus units has presented a preliminary funding proposal for a campus-wide data management
infrastructure to the Vice-Chancellor of research and the provost; at least a portion of this funding has
been allocated and is being used to help hire the Library's first Director of Research Data Services.11
The Un-Retreat offers an opportunity to review progress to date and to discuss needs and priorities
moving forward. In particular we will focus on the challenges facing us in this domain; the goals and
objectives (and their relative priority) that we should pursue to meet these challenges; the strategies we
recommend to achieve these goals; and the resources needed to implement these strategies. We will also
want to contextualize data services in the broader scope of our role as a research library. To get the
conversation going, we offer below links to a few useful resources and several discussion questions
(neither list intended as comprehensive -- simply a starting point to get us going).
University Library Faculty/AP Un-Retreat — January 7, 2014
Data Stewardship and Research Data Services in the Library:
where are we now and where are we going next?
Research Data Services at the [UIUC] University Library— Challenges & Opportunities
eResearch Services at the University Library—Final Report of the Library eResearch Task Force
Academic Libraries and Research Data Services (A 2012 ACRL White Paper)
Discussion Questions
(in no particular order):
How do we assess faculty needs for data curation support across disciplines on campus? What are the
challenges in gathering this information and is there risk of raising unreasonable expectations?
What are the skillsets needed in this domain and how does the Library recruit faculty & staff
equipped to work in this arena? How do existing Library faculty & staff acquire the skills they need?
What is the role of the subject specialists and disciplinary librarians in our research data service
initiatives? How will subject specialists interact with the central Research Data Service?
The new UIUC Research Data Service has been established as a campus-wide activity headquartered
in the Library but also involving the Office of the VCR, CITES, GSLIS, NCSA, and the Office of the
Provost. What are the challenges inherent in such a multi-unit endeavor going forward?
What data research services are we offering or about to offer? What challenges do we face in terms of
outreach and getting the word out to our researchers?
What additional research data services should we be offering? (See also the ACRL White Paper
mentioned above.) What are the common challenges or obstacles we face in offering these services?
How do we pay for and manage long-term/preservation storage for electronic research data? How
can DPN, DuraCloud, Amazon Glacier, etc. fit in? What is the optimal tradeoff between secure,
reliable long-term storage, and cost?
A number of other CIC libraries and I-Schools are building their own Research Data Services
programs (e.g., Wisconsin12 and Maryland13). Are there are opportunities for multiple institution
collaborations? What outreach strategies seem to be working well for others?
To what degree are funder mandates driving research data services? Is more required to ensure
adequate data curation -- i.e., are there gaps in what funders are requesting?
What are the implications of the Library serving as a research data publisher? Does publication of
research data imply a longer commitment to curation & preservation than that mandated by funders?