Research Data Tips for Leaving UW-Madison

A newly designed banner with a graphic of mascot Bucky Badger’s face hangs between the columns of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison during autumn on Oct. 27, 2014. In the foreground is the Abraham Lincoln statue and pedestrians walking across Bascom Hill. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

If your time as a researcher or student at UW-Madison is coming to an end, good luck with your new opportunities! As you make the shift, it’s important to begin the process of off-boarding – taking all the necessary steps to ensure a seamless transition when formally separating from the university.

This is especially important when it comes to your research data. Off-boarding requires a careful assessment of all the data, accounts, and tools you have used while at UW-Madison and an understanding of policies on transitioning your research data to your collaborators, departments, or new institutions. 

To help, we have put together this brief guide. But remember, many labs, departments, and colleges have their own off-boarding procedures, so it’s best to inquire there for more specific guidance. UW-Madison has also gathered some role-specific resources to get started.

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Link Roundup – May 2020

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Cameron Cook

John Yin, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at UW-Madison, is using computational methods to understand the material conditions viruses use to reproduce themselves. He is hopeful that such an approach will allow us interfere with their reproduction and prevent the spread of viruses like COVID-19.

Brian Foo, one of the Library of Congress Innovators in Residence has released a beta version of “Citizen DJ”. You can create remix, create music, or download free-to-use audio clips from their collections to use as part of your projects or as a dataset.

Jennifer Patiño

Led by their “Innovator in Residence,” Ben Lee, the Library of Congress is using sophisticated machine learning tools to digitize and organize images from several centuries of American newspapers. The result is a tool for searching a truly massive collection of historical newspaper images called the “Newspaper Navigator“.

Stat News provides tips for researchers for staying connected, moving to virtual research, and reusing datasets to ask new questions during COVID-19.

Kent Emerson

Researchers at UW-Madison have been involved in the development of a desktop and mobile app designed to help Wisconsinites navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, called Wisconsin Connect, features discussion rooms, fact checkers, prevention techniques, symptom trackers and much more. The app should be available via the Apple Store and Google Play in May.

The Media History Digital Library project’s search interface, called Lantern, has received some exciting updates to facilitate more precise searching and resource location. Take minute to browse this huge media history resource.  

An Introduction to Web Scraping for Research

Like web archiving, web scraping is a process by which you can collect data from websites and save it for further research or preserve it over time. Also like web archiving, web scraping can be done through manual selection or it can involve the automated crawling of web pages using pre-programmed scraping applications.

Unlike web archiving, which is designed to preserve the look and feel of websites, web scraping is mostly used for gathering textual data. Most web scraping tools also allow you to structure the data as you collect it. So, instead of massive unstructured text files, you can transform your scraped data into spreadsheet, csv, or database formats that allow you to analyze and use it in your research. 

There are many applications for web scraping. Companies use it for market and pricing research, weather services use it to track weather information, and real estate companies harvest data on properties. But researchers also use web scraping to perform research on web forums or social media such as Twitter and Facebook, large collections of data or documents published on the web, and for monitoring changes to web pages over time. If you are interested in identifying, collecting, and preserving textual data that exists online, there is almost certainly a scraping tool that can fit your research needs. 

Please be advised that if you are collecting data from web pages, forums, social media, or other web materials for research purposes and it may constitute human subjects research, you must consult with and follow the appropriate UW-Madison Institutional Review Board process as well as follow their guidelines on “Technology & New Media Research”.  (more…)