Research and Research Data Impact Metrics: Two New Resources

By Allan Barclay, Information Architecture Librarian at Ebling Library


This photo, “Forge Welding” is copyright (c)2012 Kevin Wood, no changes, made available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License

Peer review has long been the primary tool for evaluating the quality of research performed, ensuring that only quality research articles are published in journals. Additional tools such as publication metrics (i.e. Journal Impact Factor, h-index, etc.) have attempted to inject a more quantitative approach to the quality of journals themselves, as have more recent approaches like altmetrics. Quality journals are assumed to have more impact than lesser ones (an assumption many dispute). The same trends driving evaluation of the broader impact of research (cost control, accountability to the public, verification of results, etc) are also starting to look at the impact of sharing and re-use of research data itself. It stands to reason that best practices for performing research will have implications for research data creation, management and dissemination. The measurement of impact for both research articles and shared research datasets, however, is still far from a settled science.


Andrew Johnson and Municipal Open Data at IASSIST 2015

By Trisha Adamus, Data, Network, and Translational Research Librarian at Ebling Library

Minneapolis Skyline

This photo, “Minneapolis Skyline” is copyright (c) 2011 Mike Appel and made available under a Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

In June 2015, I attended the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST) annual conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As you can imagine from the theme of the conference, “Bridging the Data Divide: Data in the International Context” many speakers and presentations provided valuable information useful in managing data. Andrew Johnson, elected to the City Council of Minneapolis in 2013, ran on a platform of Open Data Policy and implemented that policy in July of 2014. His plenary talk at the IASSIST conference focused on the dynamics and challenges of policy creation and passage, along with a discussion of next steps for Open Data in Minneapolis.

To start, let’s define open data. Open data is defined as “data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone – subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.” The two dimensions of data openness are:

  1. The data must be legally open, which means they must be placed in the public domain or under liberal terms of use with minimal restrictions.
  2. The data must be technically open, which means they must be published in electronic formats that are machine readable and preferably non-proprietary, so that anyone can access and use the data using common, freely available software tools. Data must also be publicly available and accessible on a public server, without password or firewall restrictions.

As you might imagine, creating policy to allow Minneapolis city data to be open represents a significant step forward in the accessibility of Minneapolis city government. The City Council of Minneapolis, including Andrew Johnson, and other supporters of the Open Data Policy consider the policy a necessary evolution of the city’s work via innovation, engagement, trust, and collaboration in the 21st century.


Welcome to Our New Website

DataManBy Brianna Marshall, RDS Chair

The RDS team has made several changes to the design and content of our website.

First, we’re aiming to highlight the main three services RDS provides to the UW-Madison community: assistance with data management plans, consultations, and education and training.

Second, we’re introducing new content. One of the main questions we receive is about forthcoming federal funding requirements from the 2013 White House OSTP memorandum. We’ve created a brief yet helpful chart to get you started thinking about the impact of this mandate on your particular funding agency.

And last but not least, we’ve cleaned up the design to help you find what you need on our site, quickly and easily. Please reach out to us with questions or comments.


Join RDS at the UW-Madison Open Meetup!

Banners celebrating 100 years of the Wisconsin Idea adorn the exterior of Bascom Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison on Aug. 5, 2011. (Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison)

Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison

Are you interested in open data, open access, and open educational resources? Just want to learn more about what those terms mean? Join RDS this Thursday at the second meeting of UW-Madison Open Meetup!

What is UW-Madison Open Meetup?

The meetup happens every third Thursday at 12:30 and is a space for a campus discussion around these “openness” topics. Currently, the meetings are focused on building relationships between one another and sharing information, interest, and experiences. As the community grows, there is room for the meetings and shared resources to take more focused shape. Learn more about the meetup here.

We’re pretty excited for these meetups here at RDS –  “openness” is key to sharing knowledge and moving research forward. We hope you’ll join the conversation!


When: Thursday, July 16th from 12:30 – 1:30 PM

Where: Wisconsin Idea Room – Room 159, Education Bldg (on Bascom Mall)

Get to Know the RDS Team: Erin Carrillo

In this series, we introduce the team members who make up Research Data Services (RDS). This interview is with Erin Carrillo, RDS team member and Information Services Librarian at Steenbock Memorial Library.

Describe your role at Steenbock Library.

I’m an information services librarian, so I answer questions, teach library instruction sessions, and am the library liaison to Plant Sciences, Nelson Institute, Zoology,  Botany, Plant Pathology, and Entomology.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on recently?

In November, RDS held a two day data management workshop for graduate student researchers. Participants were from several departments across campus, including Limnology, Entomology, Forest and Wildlife Ecology, Geography, and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, and were part of a cohort of graduate students doing research in the area of biodiversity conservation, funded by an NSF Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship grant. We planned the workshop with two graduate students, who saw a need to provide new researchers with the knowledge and skills to navigate the changing research data landscape. The workshop addressed several broad topics within data management, but content was tailored to the specific needs of the group.


What excites you about supporting research data management on campus?

I’m excited that funders and publishers are increasingly requiring data sharing and open data. There are so many benefits to sharing data to both researchers and the public, such as increasing recognition and visibility, and accelerating discovery. I enjoy advocating for data sharing, and helping researchers make their data available for reuse.

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you institute on campus?

A for-credit data management course that all incoming graduate students are required to take. From funder and publisher requirements for data management plans and data sharing, to the ongoing development of metadata standards and discipline-specific data repositories, researchers need to be aware of trends within their discipline and practice good data management from the outset.

Do you have a favorite UW building or landmark?

I love the Allen Centennial Gardens during the spring and summer. It’s relaxing to sit and watch the koi swim around the pond.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I like to run, sew, and binge watch tv shows on Netflix. I also recently started taking trapeze classes. My photo shows me running my first Ragnar Relay from Madison to Chicago.

Do you have a question for Erin or the rest of the RDS team? Contact us today.

Get to Know the RDS Team: Luke Bluma

In this series, we introduce the team members who make up Research Data Services (RDS). This interview is with Luke Bluma, RDS team member and Engagement Manager for the Campus Computing Infrastructure (CCI) initiative.

Describe your role with CCI.

I am the Engagement Manager for the Campus Computing Infrastructure (CCI) initiative. CCI is a campus sponsored and governed initiative that delivers shared, scalable, secure IT infrastructure services to campus partners at UW-Madison. Services include: data center management, server hosting, storage and backup. My role is all about building relationships, learning how departments on campus do what they do, and gathering requirements on how shared IT infrastructure services may be able to help them out. My main focus over the last couple of years has been file storage.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on recently?

I recently got to work with a faculty researcher who had some storage needs. He is going to be utilizing the computing resources through the Advanced Computing Initiative (ACI) and needed a place to store the research data after the computations were complete. I was able to meet with him, learn a little about his research, identify his storage needs, and set him up with our scalable, affordable network storage service.

What excites you about supporting research data management on campus?

Luke GolfI love supporting research data management on campus because in the past my role has been mostly focused on administrative data, and while administrative data is critical to our campus it isn’t always as exciting as research data, in my opinion. I love being able to provide the platforms (virtual servers, storage, backup) that allow researchers to innovate. Working for UW-Madison is great, and being able to help support the research we do, in some small way, makes that even better!

If you had an unlimited budget, what would you institute on campus?

Free Babcock ice cream for all! In every building, day or night! (I wish!)

If I had an unlimited budget, I would re-think how we provide IT services on campus. I would work with campus to identify what core IT services should be provided by the University at no cost. This might include things like networking, virtual and physical servers, storage for your group, backup for your data and computers, etc. This would be a tremendous undertaking and would require a huge investment, but it would allow researchers and departments on campus to focus less on IT infrastructure (like running their own server room or storage array) and focus even more on their missions!

In addition to that, since I have an unlimited budget, I would also establish a group that would be available to facilitate access to these services. A group of people that could meet with you in person, learn about your work, identify potential solutions and help you get started. Having free tools is great, but it’s even better when someone is available to show you how to utilize them in the best ways possible.

Do you have a favorite UW building or landmark?

This was a tough question. I’m lucky because in my role I get to roam around campus a lot and see a lot of different buildings. I love the tall buildings because you get some spectacular views of downtown Madison from way up there. However, if I have to pick just one, I’d have to go with the Memorial Union. It gave me so many great memories during my undergraduate years here at UW-Madison – from studying in Der Rathskeller to enjoying a beer on a sunny afternoon at the Terrace. And recently one of my best friends got married there, so the memories just keep adding up!

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to golf! However, I should be honest here… while I do love to golf, I’m not very good at it. I was on the golf team in high school because it allowed me to play golf after school for free, not because I was a great golfer. I love being able to get outside on a sunny Sunday afternoon and play 18 holes with some friends, even if I spend a lot of the time in the woods looking for my ball.

Do you have a question for Luke or the rest of the RDS team? Contact us today.

NADDI Reflections [part 1]


Evan (L) and Morgaine (R)

This post on NADDI 2015 was written by Morgaine Gilchrist Scott, one of two recipients of an RDS student scholarship. Read Evan Meszaros’ reflection.

In my past life, I was a public health researcher. In my current one, I’m a first year SLIS graduate student. I’m amazed and appalled at the data I once lost due to convenience. I don’t think we knew (or cared about) anything better than the proprietary format which met our immediate needs perfectly. I just looked up the software, and it’s already dead.

Have you ever heard of the Överkalix study? It’s often indicated as the seminal study in epigenetics. Scientists were able to discover things like a greater BMI at 9 years in the sons (but not the daughters) of fathers who began smoking early, and that a granddaughter’s risk of cardiovascular mortality increased when there was a sharp change in food availability for their paternal grandmothers.

But HOW were researchers able to conclude these things? Data. Old data. Old, easily explainable, data. Scientists looked at records from 1890, 1905, and 1920 on birthrates and various environmental factors and were able to follow up with children and grandchildren. These records were obviously kept on paper in a safe place and in the same language used today. But in today’s digital age, we may be depriving future generations of intuiting similarly ground breaking conclusions from the data collected today.

We’re producing data at a greater rate than ever before, and who knows what could be useful in the future. But with poor metadata, and the use of proprietary formats, we’re also losing more than ever. Fortunately, the good people involved with the Data Documentation Initiative are working towards a world where that won’t happen. I learned about so many easy, free, and important tools at NADDI. I can’t wait to implement them in my own research.

Now, you’ve missed the conference. That’s a shame, but we won’t hold that against you. NADDI has opened the doors here at Madison to making sure you have sustainable data. I’d encourage you to talk to someone from the RDS team and they can show you some free or cheap tools that are so easy to use, you’ll barely notice them. These tools, and the future of DDI will make sure that your data will contribute to science for as long as possible.

Morgaine Gilchrist-Scott is currently a Masters candidate in the School of Library and Information Science at UW-Madison. She hails from Ohio and has worked in Boston and New York before coming to Madison. She hopes to continue in data management and STEM librarianship with her degree.