The Coalition has long led programs to chart, understand, and facilitate the transformation of scholarly practice through the use of digital content and advanced information technology. These endeavors have come to be shorthanded as e-research (or, in the sciences, e-science, and in the humanities, digital humanities). In the sciences and engineering, CNI has been heavily involved in helping the higher education and library communities understand and frame emerging issues in cyberinfrastructure and e-science, with a primary focus on data sharing and data curation issues, and the interrelationships between data, software and more traditional publications. In the arts and humanities, CNI, working with a wide range of partners, has a long record of leadership in computing and the humanities, and in efforts to build collaborations that span the museum, archival and library communities. The need to continue to understand evolving scholarly practice in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities is vital in informing future planning by CNI’s members. We will continue to feature innovative and creative data and technology intensive scholarship across all disciplines, both within the US and internationally.
In the 2016-2017 program year, CNI will continue to engage in data-related e-research developments in both the sciences and the humanities, but more selectively than in past years. A wide range of organizations, including EDUCAUSE and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), now have aspects of data stewardship issues prominently on their agendas; there are immediate challenges for higher education institutions driven by funder mandates for data management plans, data sharing policies, and public access to research outcomes. It is our intention to support and collaborate with these efforts but not to duplicate them. For example, CNI is substantially involved in supporting the effort led by ARL, the Association of American Universities (AAU), and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) called SHARE (SHared Access Research Ecosystem), which among other things should result in a system to track and facilitate the management of research outcomes (publications, software and data) across US higher education. Faculty investigators need guidance from their funders and their home institutions on how best to meet these requirements, and they will be demanding new services at both disciplinary and institutional levels; CNI member institutions are leading the development of a wide variety of such services. We have seen the launch of other potentially important community based efforts like the Digital Preservation Network (DPN) and the Research Data Alliance (RDA); we will be highlighting developments from these programs in our membership meetings, and seeking to facilitate coordination among these developments.
Many of the key developments here are international as well as national. Scholarship is a global enterprise. This year, we issued the report International Advances in Digital Scholarship, from a July 2016 conference co-sponsored with our UK colleagues at Jisc, in which we examined trends and challenges for new modes of research dissemination and re-use as well as scholarly record curation in a multi-national context.
There are specific challenging frontier areas in research data management where CNI expects to continue to provide direct leadership, including efforts to understand criteria for retention and re-assessment, re-use practices, issues related to data involving human subjects, aspects of large-scale infrastructure, reproducibility of results, long-term sustainability and the evaluation of the effectiveness of funder and institutional policies. We also hope to help clarify some of the tangled issues of software sustainability and software preservation, and the relation of both of these to data stewardship, reproducibility of results, and other challenges.
Beyond developments driven by funder mandates, CNI also continues to be concerned with the question of the availability of data related to scholarly work, and we have engaged in a number of discussions around open access, open science, and open data as they relate to this question, as well as discussions about disciplinary norms for data sharing, practices for data citation, and educating graduate students. We will continue to explore and document the ways in which data and computationally intensive scholarship are altering the nature of scholarly communication; the issues here include the legal and technical barriers to large-scale text and data mining; appropriate organizational, policy and technical strategies for linking articles and underlying data; and ways to construct scholarly works that are amenable to various combinations of human and machine use. Critical new developments here include the need to better understand the complex architectural questions about the relationships among repositories, operational storage systems, e-research workflows, high performance network connectivity and powerful computational resources.
Connecting our work in e-research directly to our program focus on institutional content resources, CNI will continue to examine institutional policy and planning implications of campus cyberinfrastructure initiatives in both the sciences and humanities, and consider how these can complement national or international cyberinfrastructure investments and strategies at disciplinary and cross-disciplinary levels.