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Realities of Academic Data Sharing (RADS) Initiative: Research Update #2—Activities for Making Research Data Publicly Accessible

Last Updated on January 20, 2023, 10:53 am ET

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Public access to research data is critical to advancing science and solving real world problems. The Realities of Academic Data Sharing (RADS) Initiative project team has spent considerable time this year developing surveys designed for campus administrators and funded researchers, inquiring into public-access research data management and sharing (DMS) activities and their costs. Public-access DMS activities are often distributed across institutional departments and units and, as such, the expenditures to support these activities are rarely captured holistically within one institution and may not even be captured at the unit or department level. The goal of surveying campus administrators and funded researchers is twofold: to determine where, within the institution, these activities are occurring, and to understand the costs to the institution to support them. Defining public-access DMS activities further provides a common framework for gathering expenses for the staffing, services, and infrastructure of these activities, which then provides a more comprehensive view of the overall cost of making research data publicly accessible.

Although the RADS studies focus on data management practices over the last decade, the project team recognizes that many of these activities may be helpful for those in the higher education community currently defining institutional processes for supporting public access to research data. Identifying necessary services, infrastructure, and staffing, and ways in which to categorize expenses and budgeting for open access to research data, is timely due to the 2023 NIH Data Management and Sharing Policy and the revised federal agency policies that will result from the 2022 OSTP Nelson memo.

The RADS project team and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have released a report, Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities for Academic Administration and Researchers, that defines the data management and sharing activities used in our research. We hope that the research community will provide feedback around these activities, as this report presents version 1 of the RADS public access DMS activities. Additional versions will be released in response to community feedback and best practices as more institutions and agencies implement DMS policies in the coming year.

Public comments on the activities, including their phase categorization, are encouraged and can be made in the Public Access DMS Activities public comment document. Below is a quick view of the DMS activities, minus their tasks. Please see the report or public comment document for all information.

Planning, Design, and Start Up of Projects Phase

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Institutions

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Researchers

Reviewing or preparing data management plans (DMPs) or data management and sharing (DMS) plans Preparing data management plans (DMPs) or data management and sharing (DMS) plans
Reviewing data management and sharing costs and expenses to be included in grant budgets Identifying data management and sharing costs to be included in grant budgets
Reviewing of institutional review board (IRB) protocols and informed consent for data sharing Preparing institutional review board (IRB) protocols and informed consent for data sharing
Developing, building, or recommending storage solutions for active research data Determining storage solutions for active research data
Supporting an appropriate repository (or repositories) for making research data broadly available Selecting an appropriate repository (or repositories) for making research data broadly available
Assessing data security needs and recommending solutions Evaluating data security needs
Supporting intellectual property and copyright considerations Determining intellectual property and copyright considerations
Developing or reviewing materials transfer agreements and/or data use agreements (DUAs) Developing materials transfer agreements and/or data use agreements (DUAs)
Referring to disciplinary or institutional standards and/or best practices for handling, collecting, and documenting data Reviewing disciplinary or institutional standards and/or best practices for handling, collecting, and documenting data

 

Data Collection, Storage, and Management Phase 

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Institutions

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Researchers

Developing or reviewing documentation of data (for example, data dictionary, protocols) Developing documentation of data (for example, data dictionary, protocols)
Creating quality-control mechanisms or procedures Creating quality-control mechanisms or procedures
Evaluating or recommending data-analysis tools and processes to support sharing and reproducibility Evaluating data-analysis tools and processes to support sharing and reproducibility
Managing active data (for example, storage, security, backup, lab notebooks) Managing active data (for example, storage, security, backup, lab notebooks)

 

Making Data Broadly Available Phase 

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Institutions

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Researchers

Consulting on decisions about what data to share or host Making decisions about what data to share or host
Providing or hosting repositories for making data available
Preparing or consulting on preparing data for sharing (for example, de-identification, check privacy/personally identifiable information (PII)/protected health information (PHI), selection, curation, data cleaning, validation, and quality control) Preparing data for sharing (for example, de-identification, check privacy/personally identifiable information (PII)/protected health information (PHI), selection, curation, data cleaning, validation, and quality control)
Submitting data into a data sharing platform (for example, institutional repository, generalist repository, disciplinary repository) Submitting data into a data sharing platform (for example, institutional repository, generalist repository, disciplinary repository)
Creating or reviewing documentation for research data (for example, structured metadata, README files) Creating documentation for research data (for example, structured metadata, README files)
Consulting, selecting, or applying licenses to data Selecting or applying licenses to data
Recommending or migrating data file formats to be open or more accessible Migrating data file formats to be more open or accessible
Creating or recommending persistent identifiers (PIDs; for example, digital object identifiers (DOIs)) Creating persistent identifiers (PIDs; for example, DOIs)
Checking for compliance with existing data use agreements (DUAs) Checking for compliance with any existing data use agreements (DUAs)

 

Data Retention, Including Preservation, Archive, and Long-Term Access Phase

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Institutions

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Researchers

Consulting on or migrating files to new formats or systems as needed Migrating files to new formats or systems as needed
Monitoring integrity of preserved data Monitoring integrity of preserved data
Making decisions about de-accessioning and removal of research data Making decisions about de-accessioning and removal of research data
Ensuring data security when appropriate (for example, PHI/Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), export controls, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), student data, and intellectual property) Ensuring data security when appropriate (for example, PHI/Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), export controls, Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), student data, and intellectual property)

 

Project Closeout and Compliance Phase

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Institutions

Public Access Data Management and Sharing Activities—Researchers

Ensuring funding agency requirements for data sharing have been met Ensuring funding agency requirements for data sharing have been met
Providing compliance support around research project reports Providing compliance support around research project reports

 

Note: To view additional tasks or to make comments on the above activities, please see the full RADS Public Access DMS Activities public comment document.

 

What’s Next for RADS?

As mentioned previously, the RADS DMS activities are the foundation of our surveys, currently open to funded researchers and campus administrators at our participating institutions (Cornell University, Duke University, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, Virginia Tech, and Washington University in St. Louis). After the surveys close, we will interview researchers and administrators across the six institutions to gain more insight into campus-based practices for public access to research data. An in-person RADS workshop in December 2022 will focus on preliminary survey analysis and how to present the data. The survey and interview analysis, including cost information, will be available next year.

The RADS Research Update #1, published earlier this year, focused heavily on metadata analysis of where researchers at the six RADS institutions are making their data publicly available and provided an examination of the metadata quality of that shared data. Analysis is currently underway at five of our six institutions to determine what metadata elements can be added to their institutional DataCite or Crossref profiles from metadata already existing in their institutional repositories (IRs) by leveraging the DataCite and Crossref APIs. In other words, the project team is exploring the question, “To what extent can institutions transfer metadata elements from their local institutional repositories to the global research infrastructure to make metadata more complete?” This metadata analysis is also currently scheduled to be released next year.

Acknowledgements

The Realities of Academic Data Sharing (RADS) Initiative is funded by the US National Science Foundation (NSF #2135874). We would like to acknowledge the entire Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) team for their partnership and engagement in developing the public-access research data management and sharing (DMS) phases and activities used in the RADS surveys. Further collaboration promises to keep ARL and COGR’s memberships informed of one another’s engagement around research data management and sharing topics, such as implementation, costing issues, budgeting, and compliance. Furthermore, dialogue among ARL, COGR, and the Federal Demonstration Partnership (FDP) has deepened our understanding of the higher education community’s needs and concerns around recent federal DMS requirements.

Survey review and design would not have been possible without Lizhao Ge, RADS statistical consultant. Abbey Hammell, survey methodologist and project designer in the Liberal Arts Technologies and Innovation Services (LATIS) at the University of Minnesota, dedicated her time and expertise to provide feedback on early survey drafts.

The RADS Initiative, while based out of ARL, is composed of eight project team members who are part of the Data Curation Network (DCN). The DCN, a fundamental partner of RADS, is known for its shared staffing model, advocacy for FAIR data management practices, and its CURATE(D) workflow. Future collaborations with the DCN will include mapping and integrating the CURATE(D) steps to our DMS activities, and community engagement around the RADS public access DMS activities.

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