Managing and citing sensitive data

With thanks to Anne Spalding, Kaptur Project Officer, University for the Creative Arts, for the following account of DataCite’s Managing sensitive data workshop, The British Library, London, 29th October 2012.

On Monday 29th October I attended my first DataCite workshop; this particular workshop is the third in a series. Slides from this and previous workshops are available via The British Library Datasets web pages.

During the morning session there were four presentations followed after lunch by a workshop where four groups focussed on data management scenarios. Feedback from the workshops and a general discussion rounded off the day.

The first speaker, Veerle Van den Eynden spoke about managing sensitive data from the UK Data Archive‘s experience. She explained in broad terms the legal aspects and also the role that research ethics, data archives and repositories play in the management of research data.

Jonathan Tedds from the BRISSkit project spoke of managing medical and personal data. As part of the project a survey of 3000 staff was conducted in 2010 regarding their own use and re-use of research data. In due course a summary of their findings will be available as part of the project outcomes. Jonathan emphasised the need to make the process of depositing data more engaging for researchers. Jonathan mentioned work in managing research data undertaken by the University of Virginia Library.

From UKOLN, Cathy Pink gave a very interesting presentation on working with commercial partners as part of the Research 360 project. One focus of the project is on the issues and challenges that arise from private sector partnerships and research collaborations. Cathy illustrated the different collaboration agreements that are in place at Bath University. Another important aspect of citing and discovering research data is the use of metadata and Cathy cited the work of Sally Rumsey ‘Just Enough Metadata’.

The final presentation was given by Brian Mathews of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). Brian’s talk focussed on some issues in research ethics arising from data sharing and also that we are working in a political environment. He referred to the Opportunities for Data Exchange (ODE) and a paper entitled ‘Ten Tales of Drivers and Barriers in Data Sharing’.

One of the main discussion points emerging from the workshops and feedback was the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs). A particular issue was with assigning a DOI to a single object which could change over time and how to note this, is another DOI required? Could an umbrella DOI be assigned for the whole object but somehow allow for changes? Solutions for handling this might depend on work practices within institutions.

This event provided me with a further insight into the complexities of managing research data. The variety of perspectives also demonstrated that we are all grappling with the same issues but might well take different solutions dependant on the institutional environment.

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