Tag Archives: research

The copyright and licencing minefield

Copyright? What copyright? from edans via flickr CC

I currently have a research project for work related to copyright and licencing for digital repositories. Essentially, what do we need to know at MPOW to make sure we keep up with industry best practice and best meet the needs of those depositing to our repositories?

I’ve been working on this on and off since mid November and all I can really tell you dear reader, is that I now know for sure that I don’t want to be a lawyer when I grow up.

I was at a UTS seminar a couple of years ago, not long into my career as a professional librarian, when I first heard Derek Whitehead from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne state that in his opinion, we need more lawyers working in libraries. At that point, I didn’t really understand what he meant, digital rights management was very new to me, but now! Particularly since I’ve started working in library repositories I’ve become very aware of the tricky-ness (a completely made up word meaning, more or less, complexity) of the issues of licencing in particular.

Creative Commons is the go-to answer, but part of my brief is to see what else is out there – are we just automatically using CC or is it in fact the best product for the wide and varied range of ‘stuff’ deposited to our repositories? It’s not helped by the fact that a lot of the literature on this comes out of the US – where the copyright laws are quite different to here. UK and European literature is also prolific and somewhat helpful, but it is the Australian and New Zealand stuff that is gold.

As always, my PLN has been invaluable in pointing me towards practitioners and I have a mountain of reading still to go. I’ll go get on with it shall I? Oh and if you have a useful resource for me, let me know?

Data management is exciting!

Trust me.

No, this is a reflection of the level of enthusiasm we were asked to have as part of our data management subject at Uni this semester. Our first assignment was to write a press release explaining research data management to the general public in a way that wouldn’t send them straight to sleep. I chose to take a narrative approach and promised that if I got a good mark, I’d reproduce it here. If you work in data management, skip the next bit – but if you’re not in an academic or research library and you’re curious about what we are all talking about with data, you might like this.

Sydney is playing host this weekend to social science researchers from around the world as the inaugural Social Science Research Futures conference gets underway.

“Managing research data output will be a focus of the papers presented”, conference organiser Clare McKenzie said today. “Imagine the impact on your life if you lost your laptop with all the contacts, photos and other personal information in it. Now imagine you are a researcher on a project that has interviewed 500 homeless about their situation and that the laptop was storing all the responses to the questions.”

While such loss of data can be catastrophic to a project, managing research data is not just all about avoiding disaster. As many research projects are funded with public money, there has been a push in recent years to make the results of that research publicly available at the end of the project.

What exactly are research data? Broadly, they are the factual information collected and recorded during a research project in order to prove or disprove the original research question (Carlson 2011). The Australian public’s responses to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) census are data, as are the daily air temperature recordings a high school science student collects as part of a school project. The data are rarely meaningful without analysis, so the ABS puts the data together in combinations to look for trends and the high school student may graph the daily temperature to compare against the average for the time of year in order to draw conclusions.  All of this is research data.

Making arrangements for back up and proper storage of research data is just one aspect of data management and is part of what’s known as data management planning.  Jane Smith, a senior social sciences researcher at City University has developed a data management plan at the beginning of her last two research projects and likens it to the idea of business planning. “You don’t normally plan for your business to fail, but you can fail to plan for your business” she says. “Research projects are the same. If you don’t plan for the fact that someone may wish to access your data in twenty years when the technology is different and the original research team long dispersed, then all your hard work during the project can’t be shared or expanded.”

Researchers need to think about planning for storage, rights of use by others, naming the data in such a way that others can find it, putting details of the data in a repository where it can be found, as well as the possibility that files created today may become an obsolete format in the future (ICPSR 2012).  These details are known as metadata – literally “data about data” – and are a way of attaching useful information to an object such as a dataset.

When it comes to data management planning, it doesn’t matter whether the research is social sciences or the ‘hard sciences’. Both McKenzie and Smith advise that time spent creating a data management plan (DMP) at the start of a research project can save a lot of time further down the track, particularly if the project is large and collaborative with many individual researchers. Establishing file formats and file naming conventions such as the complex file naming system the ABS use (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009) ensures consistency and accuracy of records no matter who is working on the project at the time. Smaller projects need not go to this level of complexity, but writing it all down in a DMP can help ensure these details are not forgotten or lost. In fact, some research funding bodies have made preparation and submission of a DMP a condition of applying for a grant (Van den Eynden et al 2011).

Sharing and re-use of data becomes easier if that data has been managed properly. Making data accessible to others or allowing re-use and re-purposing of that data later on for another project is part of making research more collaborative and reduces the chance that money will be wasted on ‘re-inventing the wheel’ (Van den Eynden et al 2011). It also may help establish trends, such as comparing the interviews with the homeless (from the lost laptop scenario above) to information collected again in five years time.

Smith comments that for one of her recent projects she was able to search Research Data Australia (RDA http://researchdata.ands.org.au/), an online catalogue of research datasets, to find details of a project from a number of years ago that had data relevant to her project. Through contact details in the RDA listing, Smith, in her words “got access to the most wonderful population data from five years ago that I was able to re-use in the context of my current research project”.

Like preparing a DMP, research funding bodies in Australia and overseas are beginning to make continuing access to research data a condition of the funding.

The future of publicly funded research in Australia is going to depend on good planning.

I enjoyed the subject, it was serendipitous timing with my secondment to Library Repository Services and like all my uni subjects, I’m now glad it’s over.

Libraries as e-research partners

This post is a joint contribution from myself and my colleague Kate (@katecbyrne). We are presenting a BoF (Birds of a Feather) session at the E-Research Australasia Conference at the end of October where we hope to spark debate with our topic “E-Research and Libraries: A Perfect Partnership?”. We recognise this is at times a controversial space and the background to our approach is described in full in our abstract on the conference website & partially reproduced here:

Libraries have had long histories with many of the challenges facing e-research including interoperability, metadata creation, sustainability and ensuring that systems meet the needs of client communities. By earmarking academic and research libraries as potential collaborators for e-research projects, both researchers and libraries can maximise limited budgets and draw from the complementary expertise of both sectors. This includes capitalising on existing librarianship knowledge bases such as classification, metadata schemas, ontologies, taxonomies and thesauri. Many of the demands of data management and respository services are similar to the demands of information management, the heartland of librarianship. However,  potential benefits increase as other departments within an academic or research library are involved,  allowing libraries to capitalise on existing relationships with researchers and exploit the library’s interdisciplinary focus and knowledge of projects, policies and networks across the university.

These partnerships are not without challenges. Libraries often have limited budgets which are allocated carefully to meet a broad range of needs across the university. They often cannot offer financial support or vast amounts of server space for data storage and as such independant project funding must often be secured. Not all libraries are comfortable in the e-research space and leaders in this field are still experimenting. There are parts of the e-research space such as respositories and bibliometrics in which libraries are more established; though fields such as research data management are undergoing rapid development.

A brief literature review reveals that for many academic or research libraries,  e-research services have tended to cluster around repositories, either creating them as products or providing technical support. Several libraries also appear to be offering services exploring e-literacy for research. However,  few have been identified as wholistically linking e-research services to the strategic aims of the library.

Now here’s where you come in. We recognise that there are many different arrangements in the e-research space and we would like to hear from librarians and researchers who have been working in the e-research space and are willing to share their perspective on library/e-research partnerships. We have three questions on which we are keen to crowd source opinions as conversation starters:

  1. What are the benefits of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
  2. What are the challenges of libraries or librarians getting involved in e-research projects?
  3. Is the library involved in e-research initiatives at your university or research institution?

Please also let us know if you are willing to be identified with your quote. If you would prefer for yourself and/or your institution to remain anonymous please let us know if you are willing for us to describe your institution (eg. a mid-sized regional university) and how you would like us to do so. Leave your answers in the comments, or contact either one of us (@newgradlib or @katecbyrne) to get email details.

Thank you for your involvement and we hope to have you join in the conversation at our session if you are attending the conference.

Kate and Clare

Data management, open access and more

Drinks & Data by Andrew Turner via Flickr CC

I seem to remember promising some sort of #newjob update. As I’ve now been there nearly 2 months (time flies!) it’s a good time to stop and think about what I’ve learned and what I’m doing.

I’m reading and reading and reading about research data management, funding body requirements, data management planning and data citation at the moment. It’s more interesting than I’ve just made that sound – but it is a fairly dry subject to write about! My first uni assignment this semester is to write a press release for the general public on the importance of research data management. Really? I’ve had to have the jargon-buster out on that one trust me.

I ended up falling back on the good old narrative, story, analogy, what have you. How do you begin to describe the need for data management to people outside either the narrow data librarian world or the (some would say equally narrow) research world? By likening it to losing your mobile phone or laptop with all your photos, contacts and documents you were working on. A hook? Perhaps. Time (and whoever does my marking) will tell. If I get a good mark, I’ll share the press release here :-)

I do get to practice some of this in the real world soon. As part of my secondment to the library repository services team, I’m taking joint responsibility with a colleague for putting together some research data management information sessions for our academic services librarians (which is where I’m from). It’s an interesting juxtaposition – on the one hand I still feel like an academic services librarian, but I’m also starting to get my head around this data management stuff in a way that I hadn’t been able to before my secondment. The test will be if I can get a workshop written that convinces my former colleagues!

At the same time, I’m (slowly) getting a repository project underway. One of our faculties is about to acquire a collection of films and we are negotiating to store it in an open access repository. Enter a whole technical world full of phrases like harvesting, data streams, web-interface, deposit tool and wireframes. Yep.

Then there’s copyright. Particularly in relation to the upcoming film collection, I’ve spent weeks trying to get my head around copyright and licensing issues. Copyright in film is particularly complex – of course it is. I’m about to start adapting our legal-office-approved rights agreements that relate to theses and other written research outputs to suit film.

While most days I still feel like I’m going around in circles it is starting to make sense and writing it all down here has further crystallised some things for me. Proving that I need to blog more.

Data is the new black

Black-Eyed Susan 227 from cygnus921 via flickr CC

If you work in academic libraries sooner or later you are going to come across the issue of research data management. Increasingly, we are also working in an e-research space where everything from finding journal articles for a literature review through to making a copy of the finished work available in an institutional repository happens in an online space.

My previous posts on digital humanities send out a call for libraries to be more involved in this process and to come to the table as partners and collaborators with researchers.  This is an area of librarianship I didn’t know existed before starting at MPOW 15 months ago and it has caught my interest in a big way.

I did say much of this #blogjune from me would be about data. Now I can reveal that I have a new job for the next 12 months and am going to be working in our library’s repository services team, talking about research data management all day long. It starts next week – stay tuned!

Libraries and the digital humanities

Inside the Shine Dome – Digital Humanities Australasia 2012

During the digital humanities conference I attended in Canberra in March, it struck me as odd that there wasn’t more library presence – both as presenters and delegates.

In casual conversation at morning tea on the final day,  Professor John Unsworth of Brandeis University in the USA (one of the keynote speakers at the conference and vice provost for Library & Technology Services at Brandeis) said he thought there was a role for libraries to be represented at a much higher level. In his opinion, the participation rate of the LIS sector at the international Digital Humanities conferences is much higher.

The conference participants list outlined delegate’s institutions, not their affiliation within that institution so it is difficult to tell what representation there was from the LIS sector. My sense is that the audience was overwhelmingly academics – stumbling upon other LIS sector representatives was luck rather than management.

I turned to twitter (as I often do) and asked

Morning tea chat with Prof JohnUnsworth Brandeis University – he says international DH conference has up to 1/3 LIS delegates?#dha2012

Some GLAM representation here but overwhelmingly academic presence, lib tweeps, what barriers were there for you in coming?#dha2012

I didn’t get a lot of response to this – but the responses I did get were around awareness. It’s an emerging field in librarianship, I get that. Although I had done some reading on digital humanities before heading to Canberra, it is the reading I’ve done in this area since that has crystalised some of the concepts for me.

Like any good LIS professional, I began with a google search and after reading many, many forum postings, blog posts, conference presentations and journal article abstracts I found  this from the wikipedia entry:

The digital humanities is an area of research, teaching, and creation concerned with the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities. Developing from an earlier field called humanities computing, today digital humanities embrace a variety of topics ranging from curating online collections to data mining large cultural data sets. Digital Humanities currently incorporates both digitized and born-digital materials and combines the methodologies from the traditional humanities disciplines (such as historyphilosophylinguistics,literatureartarchaeologymusic, and cultural studies) with tools provided by computing (such as data visualisationinformation retrievaldata miningstatisticscomputational analysis) and digital publishing.

Being a humanities librarian at the moment, I guess it’s natural that my specific interest is in this area, but through another project I am doing with a colleague I’m beginning to examine e-research and the role of libraries in a wider context.

I told you much of this month’s #blogjune will be about data.

Hierarchies of presence

Through the archway - the fabulous Shine Dome at ANU

Last week I attended the inaugural conference of the Australasian Association of the Digital Humanities, held at the Academy of Science’s Shine Dome at ANU in Canberra. I was there because of the interest at MPOW in our library supporting academic research and e-research in particular is becoming increasingly important to our role as Outreach librarians as we start to have conversations with academics about data management and access.

In an attempt to make some sense of the sometimes highly technical papers I went to over the three days, I will be blogging about a few recurring themes and also a number of individual papers, such as the one I’m talking about here.

On Day 3 I attended a paper by Dr Alice Gorman of Flinders University called ‘The personal is political: communicating archaeology and heritage through online platforms‘.  Dr Gorman is also known as @DrSpaceJunk and blogs about space archaeology at Space Age Archaeology.

There was a really good twitter back channel running throughout the conference, so while I was tweeting madly (my personal form of notetaking), I was also able to follow the comments of others – this was particularly helpful during some of the more technical sessions that were hard to follow. This from some of the twitter stream during the space archaeology presentation:
Now hearing from @drspacejunk about misperception of what archaeology and getting people interested in what it really is #DHA2012 (from @ellenforsyth)
Space archeology – who knew?! #dha2012 (from @LizzieM79)
@drspacejunk has divided audience – is space archeologist, crosses archaeology & space scientists, talking about bridging links #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Really interesting discussion from @drspacejunk about the importance of identity to help explain her field of interest #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)
Alice talked about the different roles her different public identities can take to help her reach a wider audience. As she said, @DrSpaceJunk can say and do things that Dr Alice Gorman can’t. Using what Alice called ‘heirarchies of presence’ her audience can be filtered up and down depending on their entry point to her work and their level of interest.

Hierarchies of presence: SM both passive & active backed up byacademia.edu & inst presence, supporting cred & authenticity #dha2012 (from @newgradlib)

I spoke with Alice after her presentation and a concrete example she gave me was an invitation she received (seemingly out of the blue) to speak to a group involved with something fairly obscure to do with plastic. It turned out, the event organisers found her because of a blog post she had written on cable ties. Because her various profiles and identities are linked back to her serious researcher profile, she was contacted as someone who had a valuable and serious contribution to make.

I have a strong personal interest in the area of social media and professional networks so this session was particularly appealing to me. I think it provided a useful take home message to start some discussions at MPOW about how we talk about some of this to our academics, particularly early career researchers (ECR’s) who do not have long and established publishing profiles and need to use a variety of ways to promote themselves and their work.

Journal or book – does it matter anymore?

Discarded Ideas 02.04.2008 by mskogly via flickr CC

Today I put out on twitter

Does it really matter if students know if their source is a journal or a book? Why/why not? #infolit #crowdsourcing

as this is something that has increasingly had me wondering. This has been prompted in part by a discussion on twitter yesterday about whether as undergraduate students ourselves we ever used the library or contacted a librarian (most of us said no) and partly as a result of a discussion at MPOW about what the journal subscription model may look like in the future. I think both of these discussions are worthy of further investigation and thinking in their own right at another time.

So, back to the point of this post. As stated in the tweet, I was crowd sourcing, looking for some ideas, possible arguments for and against this position & trying to gauge the mood of my potential audience before putting this post out there.

I’m very grateful to my PLN for their responses, including:

still think it’s important because they will need to know for reference formatting. so boring but true

[important for] selecting sources, eg. book provides overview, journal more likely to be orig research…good scholarly practice

journals still regarded as “better” for some subjects

I don’t think it matters if the info is relevant to their topic eg history uses a lot more book references than info science

if trusted source (lecturer) is pushing papers to students distinctions b/w source types not key – all abt content

If students (& by this I am referring mostly to the average UG student, who make up the bulk of the student population at most universities) are given a list of readings or citations to look up, then yes, it’s helpful if they can tell the difference between a journal & a monograph. It certainly makes our job in reference much easier if they know that.

However, my point is slightly different – and here I run into the fact that at times it’s hard to express myself adequately in 140 characters. I think I am really asking “Once having arrived at the source, does it really matter what the source is?”

Let me explain further. At MPOW, we put a great deal of energy into helping academics generate stable links to our online resources.  These links can placed into the Learning Management System (LMS) usually Blackboard or Moodle, and they route students via the library proxy server to land them at their article, e-book, digitized chapter or AV resource without the student having to navigate any of the path along the way – other than to authenticate themselves as our students at some point if they are off campus. So increasingly, students are not being given a list of readings or citations to look for and often their further reading from the subject can occur as a direct hyperlink provided in the document they were originally sent to read.

In my experience, the academics generally like these links and while it’s a slightly complex process to generate them it’s usually a one-off investment of their time. While some are concerned about what they see as the loss of student research skills, the feedback from most is that they want the students to read, absorb & synthesize the material. Many feel that unless it’s made easy for the students, they will just not bother reading it. I have also had academics tell me that the time spent generating these links pays off in terms of less time spent further down the semester track answering emails & phone calls from students who can’t find the citation from a list.

This situation of course causes an instant librarian dilemma! On the one hand, if the link is provided as a ‘click here’ service, without citation data being included then students arrive at the reading with no context whatsoever and this has the potential to bring an information professional out in spots. However, the point of this post is to stop and ask myself ‘why is this so?’

Even when academics attach the hyperlink to an actual citation, aren’t students still just going to click & not notice the context? Many e-records include a copy & paste ‘how to cite this’ – and while I understand that this may not meet the requirements of a particular referencing style, it still means students don’t really need to have context to create a citation for the information they have just used. It might look wrong and the student may lose a few marks for not following instructions, but let’s face it, an academic can still find & check the source document even if it’s formatted in Harvard when they really wanted Chicago or APA.

On the other side of this argument, supporting our academics is my role – and if this link generation makes their lives easier & enables them to help students focus on the skills of critically evaluating the content then isn’t that a good thing? Is this actually a similar argument to the print vs e? Is content king rather than the container?

Increasingly, the publishing gap between monographs & journals is closing. Traditionally journals are more agile, more reflective of current practice, published faster and peer reviewed journals are seen as more authoritative. The different publishing models, rise of open access publishing and the increase in academic blogging are all pushing the boundaries of the traditional model. I’m in no way suggesting we stop helping students understand how to evaluate their sources, I’m just wondering if the model for that is coming to its use-by date. Is the issue of format in publishing becoming irrelevant in that evaluation?

The obvious elephant in the room here is the serious researcher, whether post-grad or academic, as context is bound to be more appropriate or relevant to them, but they are not really who this is about. I think there’s a lot more to say on this topic and some others that float around it in a more or less connected way. Another time perhaps.

Thinking time

Unshelved 31 January 2012

I love this. I’m lucky enough to be ‘allowed’ to have thinking time at MPOW – it’s part of our job and often leads to new and interesting things. It’s not necessarily sitting-still-thinking, it might be an informal discussion over coffee with a colleague gathering ideas, or reading a blog post, or talking about twitter, or bouncing an idea for a research project.

All of this ‘thinking’ time means I am better prepared when I talk with academics, I know more about library services and options and I’m a more informed library professional. This is good.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 44 other followers