Research Data, Records and Archives: Breaking the Boundaries

This event took place in the Playfair Library in Edinburgh, and was a workshop to discuss the challenge of managing research data in relation to records management and archives.

Key themes emerging from that day were that collaboration is needed regarding retention of records – what to keep, how long for, and preservation/sustainability of the documents.

The day started with Kevin Ashley from the Digital Curation Centre talking about the history of data curation, definitions, and the work of the DLM forum – (document lifecycle management)

The next part of the day looked at disciplines dealing with research data – record management, archives and research data management.


Playfair Library

Record management perspective

In the record management perspective they looked at relating research data to different record models – for example the record lifecycle vs the record continuum, which looks at how records have multiple uses at different times, and do not serve one purpose at one time. Questions were asked around governance – what is it, should we have it?, what legislative funding is attached to it? Can we/should we provide access to it, practical can we cope with it? How do we preserve it? How do we process it? How do we mediate/ensure appropriate access to it?

Useful links

The archives perspective – research data – University of Edinburgh-Rachel Hosker, Manager of Archives & Library Collections

 This looked at issues and barriers regarding collaboration, including communication and language – for example different people have different definitions for data and archives. It’s also interesting to look at areas such as ownership of research data – which department does it fall under? Library? IT?

In terms of managing research data we also need to look at archival processes in terms of appraisal. Do we have appropriate methodology that deals with large data sets, particularly in terms of digital records?

Perceptions of archives – do people associate research data with archives? The collections we have at UCA include research data – including artists work, so research data will actually become archives. There is in fact an appetite for the reuse of research data – looking at the notes, process of the mind in motion

They gave two case studies regarding appraisal, including the Roslin Institute Archive, and the Duncan Campbell archive. For the Roslin archive they took 10% example of data from the collection to be permanently preserved. It was unlikely that the whole data would be taken together in entirety

In light of looking at archives as datasets, they are revisiting their physical collections and seeing how they could be promoted/approached in terms of datasets

Research data perspective – Stuart Lewis, University of Edinburgh

 They look after phds, researchers. Records are housed in a Data Vault funded by JISC. Data management challenges including funding, academic engagement, improving practices. They work with archivists regarding what to keep

 Case studies

Victoria Cramma – London School of Hygiene

She manages Research Data which is based in the archives service, based in the library. A research data management service was funded in 2012- 3 year project, then permanent

Issues raised include lack of communication between the two professions of archivists and research data management.

It was noted that archivists can help with provenance and metadata. A knowledge exchange was held.

The importance of archiving research data to the institution was noted

Ian Deary Professor of Psychology University of Edinburgh

This talk looked at reusing historical data

Shorter talks were ‘filling the digital preservation gap’ at York University, looking at utilizing archivematica for research data

Adrian Stevenson talked about Archives Hub and Research Data, Rebecca Grant from the Digital Repository of Ireland on the Research Data Alliance, and Laura Molloy working with artists work

A very enjoyable and illuminating day!

Rebekah Taylor, Archivist & Special Collections Officer