One of today's most important priorities for academic scholarship and research is providing long-term access to datasets. Data are now seen as the building blocks of scholarship and research in the sciences and humanities. Scholars and archivists recognize the potential for increasing collaboration and synthesis when data are archived, published, and shared, forging the possibility for new discoveries built upon the research of others.
To facilitate the sharing of datasets, the University of California's California Digital Library (CDL) has become a founding member of the international DataCite consortium, a group of leading academic and scientific memory institutions providing data publishing opportunities for researchers lacking appropriate publication channels and incentives for their datasets.
DataCite offers an easy way to connect an article published in a scholarly journal with the underlying data and allows authors to take control of the management and distribution of their research. Additionally, DataCite provides the means for researchers to share and get credit for datasets; establish easier access to research data; increase acceptance of research data as legitimate, citable contributions to the scholarly record; and to support data archiving that permits results to be verified and re-purposed for future study.
A pragmatic first step towards managing, or "curating," data is to register the existence of datasets publicly and permanently. Mirroring accepted publishing practice, DataCite's services make it easy for data producers to obtain permanent catalog records and persistent identifiers that are visible through familiar mechanisms, such as library systems, CrossRef and search engines.
The University of California is the world's premier public academic institution. The UC community produces an enormous body of research data — unfortunately, it is often inaccessible and at risk, stored on local servers in individual departments. All disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences and sciences, both produce and consume the data as part of the scholarly research endeavor.
Within the CDL, responsibility for DataCite activities rests with the UC Curation Center. "Creating a sustainable cyber-infrastructure for dataset curation is a top priority of the international research agenda," said Patricia Cruse, director of the center. "Our long-term vision is to support scholars by providing methods for them to locate, identify, archive, publish and cite research datasets with confidence."
Stephen P. Miller, head of the Geological Data Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego says, "It is critical for research community data operations to keep in close communications with DataCite, maintaining a forum to discuss challenges and to share resources and innovative tools. For example, the ‘Rolling Deck to Repository (R2R)' project was recently launched to capture all routine underway data on U.S. oceanographic research vessels, approximately 500 expeditions per year, conducted by 18 independent operating institutions. In recent years there has been a change in the cultural patterns in the marine science and other communities. Data are being exchanged, and re-used, more than ever. Much of the re-use is accomplished without the direct involvement of the original data collector... It is now a general practice to combine data from various online resources even before you go to sea, and to submit your data to a repository for others to use after returning."
In addition to the CDL, the DataCite consortium includes the German National Library of Science and Technology, the British Library, the Library of the ETH Zurich, the French Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, the Technical Information Center of Denmark, the Dutch TU Delft Library, Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information, the Australian National Data Service and Purdue University.
About the UC Curation Center and the California Digital Library
The UC Curation Center (UC3) of the California Digital Library (CDL) was established in 2009. UC3 is a central preservation and curation service provider addressing the systemwide needs of the 10 campuses of the University of California, one of the pre-eminent public universities of the world. The California Digital Library provides digital library development and services for the University of California libraries and the communities they serve. For further information contact Patricia Cruse, director, UC Curation Center, at (510) 987-9016.
Rolling Deck to Repository (R2R) is a collaborative five-year NSF project, involving the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University), the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (UCSD), the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Florida State University. Stephen P. Miller, head, Geological Data Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, is one of three project leads on R2R.