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Sustainable Paths for Data-intensive Research Communities: Project Proposal

Revision 2.0 dated: 14-02-06

Context

The context for the priority on data sets is:

It is proposed that APSR coordinates a broad survey of sustainability in research communities whose work is data-intensive and who have an identified need to store and share that data. This project would run in tandem with a related APAC initiative to document the infrastructure needs for eResearch in Australia. This is a project to identify resources that are relevant to the day to day work of these data-intensive research communities. There would be a particular focus on APAC resources (though not exclusively). An APSR-funded staff member would work with specialists from APAC and NLA to document (and improve if necessary) eResearch capabilities and research infrastructure. The project will centre on a broad survey and analysis of eResearch capacity and needs, but the project will also aim to be a part of the solution by offer specific consultancy advice, identifying various sources of support, and beginning working relationships that will extend well beyond the scope of this project.

This project should develop a base framework for analysing a research community's systems and procedures for data management and archiving. The analysis framework will be informed by international benchmarks, such as

This framework would be then applied variously to participating research communities.

Work with each community may include:

This project should provide the sector as a whole with insights into the management, sustainability, and usability of collections in the data-intensive research communities.  It should address the role of preservation environments and digital repositories in Australian eResearch (eg. data-mining, data sharing, data annotation, etc).

Objectives

The appropriate action for each community will not be clear until after a "stock take" phase. Communities with international reference collections will obviously have different needs to those with fledgling research collections.

Participants

Research communities to be involved in this project would need to have substantial commitment to data-intensive research. They may already have well-developed and sustainable archiving and access systems or they may not. They may be from any discipline, but most likely to be from the science and social science areas. Likely candidates will be:

The second round of ARIIC funding was focused on the management of large data sets.  Some of these communities will have very well-established eResearch infrastructure and governance structures. APSR's role in these circumstances may well be to document the excellence and draw lessons for other communities.

Part of the project would be identifying suitable candidates, and identifying appropriate levels of interaction with each participant. There is an explicit acknowledgement that underpins this project that in the world of data-intensive research communities there is a wide spectrum of capabilities, resources, data types and needs. In terms of NSF report, this project would target "personal resource" collections that need to be promoted to a "community resource" collection, or "community resource" research collections that want to come to the "international reference" collection level.

Resources

Significant input will be received from APAC and NLA in specific fields of expertise (eg e-research, digital preservation). It will be appropriate to have Senior Researchers from APAC and NLA direct the project objectives and methodology.

APSR will fund travel and accommodation of APSR staff to promote cross-pollination in this project and to facilitate liaison with research community groups.

The University of Melbourne is to join APSR in this project and will focus their APSR involvement (and funding) through this project. UoM staff will work in the first instance with APSR staff from this project on a first research community. UoM staff will then continue to apply the analysis/support model to other groups.

APSR will provide sufficient funds to hire new staff (project coordinator) to coordinate this project.  The project coordinator will report directly to the APSR project leader.

All APSR test beds will participate as necessary to provide expertise (community liaison, etc). This would be funded out of existing APSR arrangements and included in milestones for S1 2005. When the project team visited a research community based at an APSR partner location, local APSR partner staff would sit in to be part of the process. It is understood that after the project is finished that those local staff would continue their working relationship with that collection.

Deliverables

Tangible deliverables for this project might include:

Timing

The project should begin by the end of Q1 2006 and continue in the first instance for six months.  Deliverables should become available during Q2 2006.