Mitigating the Risk: Identifying Strategic University Partnerships for Compliance Tracking of Research Data and Publications

In early August, Betty Rozum (USU’s Data Management and Undergraduate Research Librarian) along with our departments’ metadata coordinator Andrea Payant and department head Liz Woolcott delivered a paper at the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) satellite conference entitled Data in Libraries: The Big Picture.

The presentation/paper highlighted the library’s unique partnership with USU’s Office of Research to help track research data deposit compliance.

Presentation: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/lib_present/90/ 

Conference Paper: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/lib_pubs/268/

Mitigating the Risk: Identifying Strategic University Partnerships for Compliance Tracking of Research Data and Publications

Abstract:

Requirements to share research data have been increasing in recent years. Agencies and funders in several countries, notably the UK, Australia, and the US, have implemented policies to require data and/or publications resulting from research they fund to be made publicly accessible.

In the US, the Office of Science and Technology Policy’s 2013 memorandum requires federally funded agencies with over $100M in research and development to ensure that “digitally formatted scientific data resulting from unclassified research supported wholly or in part by Federal funding should be stored and publicly accessible to search, retrieve, and analyze.

Tracking compliance with these federal mandates is a challenge. For US Universities, the responsibility for ensuring that the requirements of the grant are ultimately met rests with the University, not the researcher. The Research Offices of Universities, where grants are typically administered, face issues of determining if researchers have met the terms of their grant by depositing data and publications per their data management plan. Tracking this information can prove to be difficult, should a compliance question arise in the future.

This need opens a door for libraries to provide a visible and timely service to University administration.

At Utah State University, in a collaborative effort to mitigate risks and demonstrate amenability to federal mandates, a pilot project is under way to evaluate workflows for capturing the location of faculty data sets and publications and then creating records for these in the Library’s online catalog and institutional repository. Working with the University’s Research Office, the Library has conducted an initial assessment of the long-term research data compliance tracking needs of the University. The goal is to create a process that verifies, before grants are completely closed out, that the researcher has deposited data and publications, or has clearly identified a repository for data. This ensures that grants completed at USU will meet the requirements of the funding agencies.

The pilot project workflow gathers descriptive metadata at the time of proposal award to facilitate the tracking of datasets. Deposit of data and/or publications is verified by the Library at award closeout. Once confirmed, metadata for the grant award, data set and/or publication is mapped into linked data-compliant records in multiple principal metadata formats and published in collaborative databases as a culmination of the workflow process.

Improving compliance is one benefit. This project provides increased public access to data sets through multiple venues by creating publicly accessible records for data deposited by University researchers, regardless of the final repository in which it is deposited. Enhancing discoverability increases visibility, and hopefully leads to additional use and re-use of the data. The various sources in which the data and publications will have metadata records are effectively crawled by internet search engines.

Built into this workflow are opportunities to help consult with researchers during the early stages of the grant application process. The library will offer guidance creating Data Management Plans, using metadata standards, and also provide recommendations as to where researchers can deposit their data when their research is completed. Library staff will also be able to advise on long term data storage options and requirements at key stages in the grant lifecycle.

This paper will describe the pilot projects’ inception and growth, outline the development of the workflows, and define the roles of the library and other key stakeholders at the University. It will include an analysis of the anticipated outcomes, the costs and benefits of the proposed workflows, and targeted recommendations for replicating the project at other universities.

 

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