Data, data, data -- it’s truly everywhere, and it’s growing. We collect more and more of it (think “Big Data”), and we’re storing almost all of it digitally -- and all of it is at risk without good care and management. Boston College’s research data is one of its “primary assets”. Like other academic research institutions, Boston College is responding to the proliferation of federal and publisher mandates for better data management practice and growing recognition of the enormous risk data loss poses. The social justice benefits of sharing data are just as compelling, as you’ll see in this exhibit. The Libraries are collaborating with other offices across campus in support of researchers with “best practice” training, assistance in creation of data management plans, help in identifying repositories for depositing data and support in metadata creation for improved “discoverability” of Boston College data. Boston College’s institutional repository, eScholarship@bc, is an important library service providing a place for researchers here to deposit and archive their data, or serve as a portal to Boston College datasets housed elsewhere.
At a fundamental level, good practices for data management require that data survives, both in terms of the future usability of the data formats and the long-term compatibility, durability and protection from risks like floods and fires and loss of the physical medium upon which it is stored. Thoughtful decision making at the outset of a research project and careful follow through while data is being collected will help mitigate these risks and ensure that data will be available when needed.
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More and more funders now require (“mandate”) that researchers include an explicitly-described “data management plan” when applying for grant money. NIH and NSF have had these mandates in place for awhile, but other government agencies are now responding to President Obama’s White House Directive, “Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research “ (dated Feb. 22, 2013). Data management plan requirements include information on the types and formats of data to be collected, as well as plans for long-term archiving and sharing. This ensures that the funder investment will be lasting and available for re-use by other researchers here and abroad.
Mandates aren’t just governmental; increasingly, major journal publishers are making similar requirements. Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as a host of other high-ranking journals now stipulate that the data accompanying a scholarly article be deposited in a trusted repository and available for sharing.
As a Catholic, Jesuit University committed to social justice, Boston College has been a leader in support of Open Access initiatives. For example, Boston College is a signer of Budapest OpenAccess Initiative. eScholarship@BC, the institutional repository of Boston College provides a showcase for Boston College's scholarly output, both data and research publications, in digital form and makes it freely accessible globally. Open Data serves the common good and encourages open government, human rights and social issues such as food security, poverty and climate change in developing countries.
“Open access publishing is a social justice issue that needs to be fostered and encouraged in AJCU schools so that our mission and the goals of open access can work together symbiotically.”
George J. Aulisio. “Open Access Publishing and Social Justice: Scranton’s Perspectives” Jesuit Higher Education 3(2): 55-73 (2014)