Dr. Paul Ayris, President of LIBER, reports on our recent Digital Curation Workshop in Vienna, Austria.

LIBER held its 3rd Digital Curation Workshop in the University of Vienna on 19-20 May 2014, with 97 registered delegates. This Workshop was organised under the aegis of LIBER’s new Forum on Digital Cultural Heritage.

The Programme can be found here. There were several notable keynote papers during the Workshop – by Dr Herbert Van De Sompel (Los Alamos) on using web infrastructure for archiving, Dr Norbert Lossau (Göttingen) on global information research infrastructures and Dr Carlos Morais-Pires (European Commission) on European approaches to developing world-class infrastructure for research data.

I was asked to give an overview of the Workshop in the final session. Seven over-arching points were noted:

1. Data-driven Science

In the last 5 years or so, research data has become a topical issue. This point is driven home by publications like Riding the Wave from the European Commission and Science as an Open Enterprise from the Royal Society in the UK. We certainly seem to be living in a new era of data-driven Science.

2. What is the role of the University Library?

Several of the papers asked the question what the role of libraries in the field of research data management could be. Herbert Van De Sompel highlighted the fact that libraries on the whole had not involved themselves in web archiving. Was this a good start for libraries introducing new services in the area of research data management?

3. Are there disciplinary differences?

One thing which the Workshop did not address was the possibility/likelihood that there are disciplinary and subject differences which have to be tackled. Researchers in the field of Arts and Humanities, for example, may well feel differently about their data (the building blocks for their articles and monographs) than, say, researchers in the Physical Sciences. We should beware of the view that there is a one-size solution which fits all.

4. Collaborations

There were lots of examples of collaboration in the library space in research data management. The European Commission presented its Horizon 2020 funding programme as the glue by which many activities and project developments in Europe could be funded to push forward in this area. The presentation on Austrian collaboration for major universities to work together on research data management infrastructures and support was a notable example of libraries working together. The Dutch gave another example where they have a shared national service with local front offices offering support in individual universities.

5. Sharing and re-use of research data

This topic was not often mentioned in the Workshop, which is odd because sharing and re-use are often cited as major benefits in making data open and available. Clearly a topic for future discussion.

6. Tools and Services

There were several examples of tools and services which support research data management. Norbert Lossau talked of the work of COAR in using the global repository network as the basis for supporting research data management. Jeffrey van der Hoeven from the KB in the Netherlands talked about emulation versus migration as strategies for digital curation. However, what is really needed is a roadmap to show what tools and services exist for research data management and where the gaps are.

7. The role of Universities

LERU (League of European Research Universities) has produced the LERU Roadmap for Research Data. This is the first Roadmap of its kind aimed specifically at universities, describing what their role in research data management could be.

Next Steps

A number of concrete Actions were identified for the LIBER Digital Cultural Heritage Forum:

  • Identify a venue for the 2016 Workshop – 2 venues have been suggested
  • The Forum to nominate a LIBER representative to join the UNESCO Content Working Group for their digital Roadmap for long-term access to digital heritage (along with IFLA and many others). See more.
  • The Forum to organise a Workshop on research data management at the 2015 LIBER Annual Conference in London, with particular reference to input from younger members of the library profession with an interest in research data