Changing Scholarly Communication Models: Reflections from the 2015 Teaching and Learning Retreat

By Cameron Cook, Digital Curation Assistant and SLIS Graduate Student

Amy Buckland presenting at the Teaching and Learning Retreat. August 6th, 2015.

Amy Buckland presenting at the Teaching and Learning Retreat. August 6th, 2015. Image from Brianna Marshall.

On August 6th, 2015 I attended the afternoon workshop of the UW-Madison Teaching and Learning Retreat, which was led by University of Chicago’s Institutional Repository Manager, Amy Buckland. The focus of the daylong retreat was the intersections of scholarly communication and information literacy. Amy’s talk narrowed in on issues of public access and libraries’ role in scholarly communication – both as content consumers and content creators.

What then, you might ask, does Amy’s talk have to do with researchers and the purpose of Research Data Services? The answer is something very simple but a key concept for all of us involved in research and research data to move forward with in mind. It is that, as Amy said, “the new normal will be public access.”


Join RDS at the UW-Madison Open Meetup!

Banners celebrating 100 years of the Wisconsin Idea adorn the exterior of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Aug. 5, 2011. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison

Are you interested in open data, open access, and open educational resources? Just want to learn more about what those terms mean? Join RDS this Thursday at the second meeting of UW-Madison Open Meetup!

What is UW-Madison Open Meetup?

The meetup happens every third Thursday at 12:30 and is a space for a campus discussion around these “openness” topics. Currently, the meetings are focused on building relationships between one another and sharing information, interest, and experiences. As the community grows, there is room for the meetings and shared resources to take more focused shape. Learn more about the meetup here.

We’re pretty excited for these meetups here at RDS –  “openness” is key to sharing knowledge and moving research forward. We hope you’ll join the conversation!


When: Thursday, July 16th from 12:30 – 1:30 PM

Where: Wisconsin Idea Room – Room 159, Education Bldg (on Bascom Mall)

NADDI Reflections [part 1]


Evan (L) and Morgaine (R)

This post on NADDI 2015 was written by Morgaine Gilchrist Scott, one of two recipients of an RDS student scholarship. Read Evan Meszaros’ reflection.

In my past life, I was a public health researcher. In my current one, I’m a first year SLIS graduate student. I’m amazed and appalled at the data I once lost due to convenience. I don’t think we knew (or cared about) anything better than the proprietary format which met our immediate needs perfectly. I just looked up the software, and it’s already dead.

Have you ever heard of the Överkalix study? It’s often indicated as the seminal study in epigenetics. Scientists were able to discover things like a greater BMI at 9 years in the sons (but not the daughters) of fathers who began smoking early, and that a granddaughter’s risk of cardiovascular mortality increased when there was a sharp change in food availability for their paternal grandmothers.

But HOW were researchers able to conclude these things? Data. Old data. Old, easily explainable, data. Scientists looked at records from 1890, 1905, and 1920 on birthrates and various environmental factors and were able to follow up with children and grandchildren. These records were obviously kept on paper in a safe place and in the same language used today. But in today’s digital age, we may be depriving future generations of intuiting similarly ground breaking conclusions from the data collected today.

We’re producing data at a greater rate than ever before, and who knows what could be useful in the future. But with poor metadata, and the use of proprietary formats, we’re also losing more than ever. Fortunately, the good people involved with the Data Documentation Initiative are working towards a world where that won’t happen. I learned about so many easy, free, and important tools at NADDI. I can’t wait to implement them in my own research.

Now, you’ve missed the conference. That’s a shame, but we won’t hold that against you. NADDI has opened the doors here at Madison to making sure you have sustainable data. I’d encourage you to talk to someone from the RDS team and they can show you some free or cheap tools that are so easy to use, you’ll barely notice them. These tools, and the future of DDI will make sure that your data will contribute to science for as long as possible.

Morgaine Gilchrist-Scott is currently a Masters candidate in the School of Library and Information Science at UW-Madison. She hails from Ohio and has worked in Boston and New York before coming to Madison. She hopes to continue in data management and STEM librarianship with her degree.

NADDI Reflections [part 2]


Evan (L) and Morgaine (R)

This post on NADDI 2015 was written by Evan Meszaros, one of two recipients of an RDS student scholarship. Read Morgaine Gilchrist-Scott’s reflection.

The NADDI 2015 conference afforded its attendees a smorgasbord of content, from the basic to the advanced, and across a range of contexts, from the narrowly-focused to the bigger picture. As a newcomer to NADDI in addition to being a newcomer to most related topics, the broader and more basic views resonated with me the most.

Jane Fry, a Data Specialist at Carleton University’s MacOdrum Library in Ottawa, led one such basic and broad workshop session, entitled, “Discover the Power of DDI Metadata.” Fry introduced the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) to those unfamiliar with the international, XML-based metadata specification, and discussed its applications, history, versioning, and the current challenges it faces as its developers improve its functionality and expand its adoption.

A plenary session featuring the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies’ Faculty Associate, Dorothea Salo, explored DDI’s place as an emerging metadata standard (mainly for large, social sciences datasets) amidst a zoo of established information standards. Her take-no-prisoners critique of the DDI community’s progress, however, sparked plenty of discussion and revealed that there is lots of work yet to be done to get the word out effectively.

The diversity and scale of projects implementing DDI—as well as the internationality of stakeholders in the initiative was also on display throughout conference. A number of sessions explored noteworthy projects (a growing list of which can be found here), while others focused on the programs and scripts (e.g. Colectica MTNA’s OpenDataForge) used to support DDI in these projects.

Two sessions in particular, both led by academic data librarians, very helpfully painted a picture of the broader world of research data services (RDS) in which tools like DDI are playing an ever more prominent role. Kristin Briney, Data Services Librarian at UW-Milwaukee, summarized her findings-to-date for a study she and her collaborators are conducting on the current state of RDS as it exists in an official capacity at larger research universities across the US. While the findings she described were preliminary, their survey work suggests some interesting correlations amongst the size and research budgets of these institutions and the presence of established data services personnel/departments or data policies.

Perhaps even more applicable to my own position, the subsequent session provided a glimpse into another university’s data services “operation”. Brianna Marshall, Digital Curation Coordinator, and Trisha Adamus, Data, Network, and Translational Research Librarian, both from UW-Madison’s Research Data Services, delivered reports of successful strategies and ongoing challenges faced while carrying out RDS core functions on their campus. A couple takeaways gleaned from this session (and the ensuing conversations it sparked) included suggestions to improve education and outreach, by hosting a ‘brown bag’ series or publishing a digest of RDS stories of interest to researchers) and to develop a toolkit for researchers that would be keyed to the various stages of the research data lifecycle. It’s clear from the many impressive projects and potentialities discussed throughout the conference that DDI, and the community of developers, partners, and software applications it represents, should be an important part of any such RDS toolkit.

Evan Meszaros is a graduate student in the UW-Madison School of Library and Information Studies, having just completed his first year in its online degree program. He is also a newly-hired librarian at Case Western Reserve University, where he plays both research data services and traditional/reference librarian roles.

Report: NISO Conference on Scientific Data Management

By Allan Barclay, Information Architecture Librarian at Ebling Library

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) held a virtual conference, “Scientific Data Management: Caring for Your Institution and its Intellectual Wealth” on February 18. A variety of data management projects and academic organizations were represented, including the US Department of Energy, Emory University, Tufts University, Oregon State University, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Force 11, the Center for Open Science and the RMap project. The web page for the event (including slide decks) is still available at the NISO website. Some highlights include:

The DART Project

A research project using data management plans (DMPs) from successful grant applications, the end product is a rubric for the review of future DMPs prior to submission. It can also help a institution identify gaps in research data management services. The rubric should be available for release later this year.

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Force 11

Force 11 is “a grass roots community that developed out of beyond-the-PDF conferences.” They address issues such as data access and reuse, transparency in research, data citation, and attribution for the different roles and outputs in the research process. They host at least a dozen different forums for the discussion or creation of better standards and practices in research communications and e-scholarship.

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Center for Open Science

The Center for Open Science is a non-profit technology start-up company working on a free, open source application called the Open Science Framework – a set of tools focused on transparency and reproducibility in the research workflow. Features include file sharing, provenance tracking, persistent URLs, automated versioning and API connections to common data storage providers including Figshare, GitHub, Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Dataverse.

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RMap Project

RMap is a two year project that started with discussions between the Data Conservancy community at Johns Hopkins, Portico and the IEEE. The idea behind the project is that the “atomic unit” of scholarly research is a complex distributed object with building blocks of text, graphics, data, and more which resides in different locations at different institutions using different technologies. Not only do the different artifacts themselves need to be preserved, the links between them also need to be preserved. The RMap project hopes to create a framework and tools to facilitate this process, sort of like an operating system for a repository of scholarly research activities.

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Apply for the NADDI 2015 Student Scholarship


UW-Madison Research Data Services is accepting applications for a student scholarship to the North American Data Documentation Initiative (NADDI) 2015 conference. The conference will be held at the Pyle Center on the UW-Madison campus, April 8-10.

NADDI 2015 is the premier data documentation conference – a great opportunity for those using metadata standards and others interested in learning more to share stories, discoveries, and experiences. This conference will be of interest to future librarians and data professionals in the social sciences and other disciplines.

Student scholarship applications are due by Friday, March 20th. The scholarship will cover the conference registration fee. After the conference, the scholarship recipient will be asked to write a brief blog post sharing their experience on the RDS blog.

Please send a brief statement of interest and CV/resume to RDS Chair Brianna Marshall.

For more information about the conference and DDI please visit the conference website.

Upcoming Brown Bag Talk on Open Access, Open Data, & Open Ed

Our third brown bag talk, “Open Access, Open Data, and Open Ed Updates,” will be presented by Doug Way, Brianna Marshall, Carrie Nelson, and Jim Jonas.

TIME: Wednesday, March 18, 12pm-1pm.

PLACE: Bunge Room, School of Library and Information Studies, 4th floor of Helen C. White Hall.

ABSTRACT: In this talk, the presenters will introduce the concepts of open access, data, and educational resources. They will share recent updates in each domain and highlight existing resources for learning more. The second half of the presentation will be reserved for questions and unstructured conversation about these issues.

Please RSVP for this talk if you plan to attend. View other talks in this series in our archive.