JISCMRD Projects and the OAIS Reference Model

Joss Winn has recently blogged about the Orbital Project’s use of the OAIS Reference model in which he makes some very important points.

The mistake to make with OAIS is looking at the model and thinking that you have to create a system that is designed in such a way, rather than functions in such a way. The OAIS standard is a tool that allows Archivists, Designers and Developers to share a common language when discussing and planning the implementation of a digital archive and what that archive should do, not how it should be designed.

The task ahead of the Orbital Team is to consider how our on-going [system] designs relate to the OAIS functional model.

In particular, Joss points to the OAIS Function Cards produced by Cornell and Göttingen State Universities.  These are allowing the Orbital project to ‘tick off’ high level and more detailed OAIS functions in their system design.

Joss ends the blog: ‘I’d be very interested to hear from other MRD projects that are looking at the OAIS standard in detail, as well as people from earlier projects that have been through this process before.’  Please get in touch with him on the Orbital Blog.

Within the current JISCMRD programme, the MaRDI Gross Project is focussing on the OAIS model, in a slightly different, but hopefully complementary way.

The Managing Research Data – Gravitational Waves Project produced, inter alia, two key recommendations:

  1. Funders should simply require that a project develop a high-level DMP as a suitable profile of the OAIS specification.
  2. Funders should support projects in creating per-project OAIS profiles which are appropriate to the project and meet funders strategic priorities and responsibilities.

The MaRDI-Gross project therefore, will develop an intellectual ‘toolkit’ which will be supporting infrastructure for project-specific DMP planning, built on the OAIS model.  The project argues that ‘the data-management systems for projects of this scale are essentially always bespoke, so that there is no useful way in which software or ‘tick-list’ components can be provided for DMP planning in this space. The ‘kit’ must instead be a set of documentary resources targeted at technical managers and engineers.’

The likely structure for the toolkit will be:

  1. Overviews of the OAIS methodology and goals
  2. Indications of the state of the art in OAIS application, validation and auditing.
  3. (References to) Backup documentation including the OAIS specification and selected developments or applications of it.
  4. Case-studies of existing DMP efforts in existing projects.
  5. Costing models for DMP planning, to the extent that this is feasible and useful.

Further information is provided in a brief MaRDI-Gross-Requirements document and (soon) at the MaRDI-Gross site.

The project also aims to develop material tailored for use by funding organisations in the development of policy and guidelines, as well as assessment materials for funders and reviewers.

The project has suffered a few delays, but is aiming to deliver a draft or strawman version by the significant date of Tuesday 21 February.  Watch this space!

Coordination of Metadata Strategies?

Some info on metadata standards being used by JISCMRD projects is available on the commonalities spreadsheet.

There was a breakout group at the Programme Launch Workshop on metadata standards: for blogged accounts of this session, see http://researchdataessex.posterous.com/metadata-session-feedback-mrd-2011-13-program and http://sonexworkgroup.blogspot.com/2011/12/thematic-parallel-session-on-metadata.html

The Metadata Breakout Group came up with some actions, though these are reported a little differently on the two blogged accounts…:

  1. Louise [Corti] would take a first pass at a grid template and send this round for comment
  2. Projects working in similar domains to consult each other about the use of metadata, early on
  3. Simon [Hodson] to organise a Programme meeting to be held in early Spring 12 to discuss metadata further and gain some agreement.


Louise has sent me a template, and I confess – mea culpa – that it got buried for the time being. It is now available as JISCMRD Projects’ Metadata Usage.  It would be good if projects working in similar domains could build on this to share information about standards being used.  We should explore whether there is already an existing registry of metadata standards for different disciplines?  Does anyone know of such a thing?

I think it is very important for the programme as a whole develop convergence upon ‘a minimum-sufficient-information metadata set that may be widely applicable accross disciplines’ which may be used by the projects.  To work towards this end, there will be a programme workshop on aligning JISCMRD projects’ metadata strategies. I plan to organise this for May.

Managing Research Data Projects’ Regional Meetings and Collaborations?

A number of JISCMRD Projects have been looking at regional collaborations.  Organised by Jez Cope of Bath Research 360, the projects in the south west of the country (Bath Research 360, Bristol’s Data.Bris, UWE’s MRD Pilot and Open Exeter) met recently.  There are two blog posts about this meeting which may be of interest to other projects, from the UWE MRD Pilot and from Open Exeter.

Both posts highlight areas of commonality and areas – mostly architectural and to do with the choice of repository or CRIS – where the projects differ.  These patterns doubtless play out across the programme too.  What the regional meeting allows – clearly – is for projects to meet without a great travel burden and perhaps on a regular basis.  I shall be very keen to hear of other and further initiatives like this.

Having attended the DCC’s Regional (East Midlands) Roadshow in Loughborough, Rachel Proudfoot of the Leeds Roadmap Project asks whether and where ‘there is a regional role in fostering a community of data management practice’.  Rachel P. makes a particularly pertinent point: ‘Maybe regionalism is not relevant in the research data management world – but we certainly see shared research projects across the White Rose Consortium and a regional approach does offer opportunities for exchange of experience: the question is whether this can/will/should translate into regional shared services – for example, computing and storage.’  Rachel would be grateful for your thoughts at the Roadmap blog.

Similarly, I’d very much like to encourage other JISCMRD projects to follow the South West example, if you see that as being useful.  Whether just for sharing ideas or exploring activities further along the collaboration continuum, I would like to hear what projects and institutions think about regional meetings and collaborations.

Two Presentations from JISC Managing Research Data Projects

Two projects have recently posted presentations which may be of interest to others.

Bill Worthington from the #rdtk_herts project recently gave a lunchtime presentation at the University of Hertfordshire which provides a useful overview of the Research Data Toolkit Project.  There are sections covering the motivation, national and local policy contexts, benefits/impact and the projects approach and implementation which will be of interest to JISCMRD Projects and other interested parties.  Bill will be following this up with an account of the ‘thoughtful debate’ which his presentation provoked.  See the presentation at: http://research-data-toolkit.herts.ac.uk/2012/02/information-hertfordshire-lunchtime-presentation-on-rdm/

Over in Lincoln, Mansur Darlington from the Bath REDm-MED Project (and the ERIM Project from the previous programme) gave a detailed presentation about these projects to Orbital, which is also working in the area of engineering.  Paul Stainthorpe has described the ERIM work on understanding what is required for managing engineering research data as ‘embarrassingly good’: see https://twitter.com/#!/kevingashley/status/166868418245574656

Mansur’s presentation is very detailed and well worth looking at.  See in particular the second part with sections on the ERIM’s research (covering terminology, identifying objects and understanding relationships, key findings, etc) and the REDm-MED’s work (covering engineering research data management planning and execution).  There are useful slides covering DMP tasks and areas where guidance and support is required.  Finally, Mansur covers ‘key building blocks for practical data management’.  The presentation and some notes from Joss Winn are available at http://orbital.blogs.lincoln.ac.uk/2012/02/07/building-on-the-erim-and-redm-med-projects/

JISC Managing Research Data Programme Elements in JISC Grant Funding Call 01-12

JISC has today release a Grant Funding Call 01/12.  The Call for Proposals comes from JISC’s Digital Infrastructure Team and contains four elements which are part of the Managing Research Data Programme http://bit.ly/jiscmrd2011-13

The Grant Funding Call may be found on the JISC website at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2012/01/0112%20DI.aspx

The deadline for submission is 12.00 noon on 16 March 2012.  Please consult the eligibility criteria carefully when considering whether to prepare a proposal.

The Managing Research Data Elements may be found under Appendix A which provides information about the objectives of the Managing Research Data Programme.  The specific Calls for Proposals are detailed as Appendices A1-A4.

These activities seek:

  1. to encourage the publication of research data, and the integration of research data publication with other components of scholarly communications; and
  2. to encourage the development of high quality training materials in research data management, targeted at various important stakeholders.

The summary details are as follows:

Innovative Data Publication (Appendix A1)

Projects to design and implement innovative technical models and organisational partnerships to encourage and enable publication of research data.

A total of £320,000 is available for this work.  JISC intends to fund 2-4 projects of between £80,000 and £150,000 per project.

Projects should start as soon as possible after 1 June 2012 and should finish and finalise deliverables by 31 July 2013.

Scoping a Service to Collate and Summarise Journal Research Data Policies (Appendix A2)

A feasibility study (augmented with the development of a pilot demonstrator and the analysis of a range of possible business models) for a potential service to provide knowledge of – and a ready source of information covering – the journal policy landscape for research data.

A total of £90,000 is available for a single project to undertake this work.

The project should start as soon as possible after 1 June 2012 and should finish and finalise deliverables by the end of November 2012.

Research Data Management Training Materials (Appendix A3)

Projects to design, pilot and test training materials for research data management adapted for the needs of:

  1. discipline-focussed post-graduate courses, and researcher professional development;
  2. discipline liaison librarians;
  3. research support roles, including dedicated data managers.

A total of £300,000 is available for 5-8 projects of between £30,000 and £60,000 per project.

The projects should start as soon as possible after 1 June 2012 and should finish and finalise deliverables by 31 May 2013.

Training Materials Support and Synthesis Role (Appendix A4)

A support project for the above activity, to assist projects in following best practice, ensure reusability, engage stakeholders and synthesise outcomes.

A total of £80,000 is available for a single project to undertake this work.

The project should start as soon as possible after 1 June 2012 and should finish and finalise deliverables by 31 July 2013.

Further Information and an Opportunity to Discuss the Call

*There will be no briefing event for this Call.* Any enquiries about the Managing Research Data elements of the 01/12 Call for Proposals should be directed to me (Simon Hodson, the Programme Manager responsible for this area of activity: s.hodson@jisc.ac.uk, 07545 524 009).

I have specifically put aside the following days (Fri 10 Feb; Thu 23 Feb; Wed 29 Feb; Thu 1 Mar) to field any enquiries and for telephone discussions of the objectives and possible proposals.

Anyone wishing to discuss any feature of the Managing Research Data elements of the Call with me on these days is requested to select a slot on the is Google spreadsheet: http://bit.ly/jiscmrd-12-01-Call-Chats (in case the bit.ly degrades, the URL is https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AoaHWqA_UJNhdHFhN29Qb3dkVU1sWGxUb21EbmsxZ1E&hl=en_US#gid=0

Please leave your name, institution and contact details if possible, in the spreadsheet at your desired time.  If you prefer not to leave contact details, please at least leave your name and I shall simply expect you to call me at the time indicated on 07545524009 or 0203 006 6071

If for any reason you are these dates are not convenient, you may contact me to arrange another appointment.  I would be grateful if you could check my calendar in doing so: http://bit.ly/simonhodson99-calendar

I very much hope that these area of activity will strike a chord and there will be strong interest in the Managing Research Data elements of the 12-01 JISC Grant Funding Call.