Feb 25 2013

Mapping RDM requirements for the next stage of data repositories

Steve Hitchcock

CKAN logoDataPool and the University of Southampton have been investigating the use of EPrints and Sharepoint to extend the capabilities of repositories for research data management (RDM). Others, notably the Universities of Lincoln and Bristol, have been looking at CKAN, a data portal platform from the Open Knowledge Foundation, and were responsible with JISC for a ‘sold out’ meeting on CKAN for Research Data Management in an Academic Setting (18 February 2013).

The principal output of the meeting is a set of CKAN RDM requirements (a Google Doc spreadsheet), produced by workgroups in which all participants at the meeting were involved, based around different stakeholder positions. Delete the term ‘CKAN’ from the title of this spreadsheet and you have a series of RDM requirements that define the space in which all repository platforms seeking to support RDM will be challenged to engage. In other words, while adapting deposit workflow is a start, it is not sufficient. Dropbox – the elephant in the room that went unmentioned, for at least an hour into the meeting – stands as the model that illustrates some of these challenges, but there are now many more requirements set out from this workshop.

At Lincoln, Joss Winn explained, they have an EPrints publications repository and are developing a CKAN data approach to “create a record of CKAN data in EPrints, thereby joining research outputs with research data” through a SWORD2 implementation.

Is this a path to get rid of EPrints at Lincoln, to accommodate CKAN? No, Joss said, quite definitely, but then effectively questioned his own answer: if starting now, would we start from here, i.e. a combination of two software platforms? The implication is that over time, possibly years, the definite answer could change. The challenge is on.

Addendum For more detail on proceedings at the workshop see Patrick McCann’s report for DCC, and a view from a presenter, Simon Price of data.bris.