Steve Welburn's blog

Pre-DAFx Software Carpentry Bootcamp

I've spent the past week and a half in York for the annual Digital Audio Effects (DAFx) conference. On the Thursday to Saturday prior to the conference, the Sound Software project was running a free three-day Software Carpentry workshop for audio researchers. The aim of the Software Carpentry programme is to introduce researchers without (much) programming training - but with a need to programme - to the basics of software engineering best practice.

Digital Research 2012

On 10th and 11th September, I attended the first two days of Digital Research 2012 at St. Catherine's College, Oxford. Sadly, I couldn't stay for the third day as I had to be back for an institutional Research Data Curation project board meeting at Queen Mary.

Evaluating Training Materials

Evaluation of RDM training materials will take the form of pre- and post-training surveys - to assess skills beforehand, and to evaluate individual responses to the course afterwards.

The basis for evaluating the training materials will be Kirkpatrick's Four Level Evaluation Model. This looks at four different types of outcomes from learning:

  • Reaction - to the course ("motivation" may be more appropriate)

Review of Existing Resources: (ii) Vitae Researcher Development Framework

The Vitae Researcher Development Framework (RDF) categorises the knowledge, behaviours and attributes of researchers and uses this as a foundation to guide the development of researcher skills.

In April 2012, Vitae published an information literacy component for the RDF.

Information literacy is an umbrella term which encompasses concepts such as digital, visual and media literacies, academic literacy, information handling, information skills, data curation and data management. Interacting with information is at the very heart of research and informed researchers are both consumers and producers of information.

The RDF component included an information literacy "lens"- mapping information literacy skills onto the RDF researcher model - and an Informed Researcher Booklet giving guidelines to researchers on evaluating and improving their information literacy.

Review of Existing Resources: (i) Previous JISC Projects

There are lots of materials relating to data management training available through Jorum these include audio interviews, PowerPoint presentations, factsheets, videos and more. Many of these are outputs of previous JISC-funded projects, and we considerprojects from the RDMTrain and Research Data Management Infrastructure programmes here.

Sound Data Management Training (SoDaMaT)

Sound Data Management Training (SoDaMaT) is an eight-month project to create and evaluate discipline-specific data management training material for digital music and audio research. The materials will be targeted to:

  • postgraduate research students (MSc and PhD);
  • research staff (postdoctoral researchers, CIs, PIs);
  • and academic staff.

The project is to run at the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) from June 2012 to January 2013, in collaboration with the QMUL Learning Institute.

Authenticating DSpace Users

The DSpace documentation lists several options for authenticating users: basic password access; Shibboleth; LDAP; IP Address; and X509. These can be combined in an authentication “stack” in which a set of authentication options are tried until one succeeds.

Our authentication stack allows four levels of access:

  • anonymous – users who don't log in to the system, but can browse the communities and collections and download any publicly available data on the system;
  • eecs – users from the School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) users can log in with their EECS credentials for access to a wider range of data;
  • users added by administrators – this allows external users (e.g. research collaborators) additional rights within the repository;
  • administrators – to set up communities and collections and to manage users when required.

In addition, users on the QMUL network are automatically placed in a “QMUL” group in DSpace based on their IP address. This allows “intranet” type material to be controlled in the system.

DSpace for Digital Music Research Data Management

DSpace is a free, open-source data management system originally created by MIT and Hewlett Packard. It is currently developed under the auspices of Duraspace, a not-for-profit set up to support the Fedora Commons repository framework. There is an active development community, updating both the core application and creating application specific changes – DSpace is the basis for the Dryad project for research data management in the biosciences.

DSpace provides a fully functional repository system. It is very widely used with over 1000 live instances listed online. As DSpace provides a turnkey system, it is less flexible than operating in the Fedora framework, but allows a fully-functional web-based repository to be set up within a short time-scale (see installing DSpace on CentOS).

Open Access to Scientific Information

POST, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, published "POST Note 397" on Open Access to Scientific Information on 25th January 2012. The briefing considers open access to both publications and data.

Awareness of Open Access within the government seems to be rising, with the government committing to expand access to research publications and data in March 2011. In September 2011, an independent working group was set up to examine how to attain this - recommendations being expected spring 2012.

The POST Note points out that: OA to data could allow validation of findings and data re-use to "advance knowledge and promote innovation"; sharing data requires effective data management and archiving; sharing data presents challenges re. IP and privacy; and that expanding access requires collaboration between researchers, librarians, HEIs, funders and publishers.

Installing DSpace from a command-line on CentOS 6

Having evaluated possible data management solutions and selected DSpace as our solution, we need to allow some users to examine DSpace and consider how it will fit in with their workflow. The initial evaluation took place on a desktop PC with the data management server running as a virtual machine. In order to allow further evaluation we have now set up a “proper" server environment to test DSpace – this server has a command-line interface and no GUI, requiring a more “managed" approach to setting up the system.

Warning: this is a technical post, which is offered in the hope that it may be of assistance to anyone else installing DSpace.

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