Project Manager/Senior Software Engineer
Research data management (RDM) has primarily focused on software infrastructure in the form of repositories or other relatively centralized data platforms. However, research workflows around data are very dynamic, reflecting the continuously evolving needs of researchers, and it is difficult for conventional platforms to engage fully with the varied range of workflows. Researchers often do not make extensive use of data repositories which they could otherwise benefit from. In essence, there is a conceptual and technical “gap” between research and RDM infrastructures. This talk proposes an alternative approach, beginning from the perspective of researcher needs for data sharing, considered in a broad sense, and relating them to data sharing in the RDM context. This is expressed in a new model which combines communication, curation, and integration of data into a single lightweight service. The main purpose of the model is to unify different levels of data management and promote flexible collaboration around open data. The approach also focuses on how to achieve simplicity of deployment and integration of the model with researcher tools, which are already integrated into research workflows, as well as with repositories. This amounts to an interoperability layer for data sharing and other decentralized RDM functions. Compared to conventional platforms, the decentralized approach is more flexible and has a number of benefits. It can be deployed in situ where data are stored, extending the reach of RDM to data outside of repositories. Integration with existing researcher tools, and the data integration function that is provided, together promote the use of data curation very early in the lifecycle, when knowledge about data is most readily accessible. An open source reference implementation has been developed, and it is demonstrated with examples based on environmental sensor data. These examples show how the proposed model simplifies data sharing, its benefits and effectiveness, and how it can help to support a more engaging and fruitful partnership between research and library communities.