The University of Michigan Library is launching a suite of services as well as a repository that will support researchers throughout all phases of the research data lifecycle, which includes planning, creation, organization, sharing and preservation.
This coordinated approach to research data is critical to maximizing the benefits of the $1.3 billion that U-M researchers expend annually, and to ensuring compliance with the growing number of data-management and sharing mandates applied by government and other funders.
The library’s Research Data Services is a network of tools and expertise that “the library is uniquely equipped to provide,” says Elaine Westbrooks, associate university librarian for research. “These days, researchers in just about every discipline might create or engage with data, which can take a variety of forms and formats. Our subject specialist librarians bring their discipline-specific expertise to the data-management issues of the researchers in their areas.”
There are more than 50 librarians, informationists and staff working on this initiative, with expertise ranging from the creation of data-management plans, metadata schematics, publication, visualization and preservation.
Deep Blue Data is an expansion of Deep Blue, the university’s institutional repository which was established in 2006 and currently holds more than 110,000 deposits.
Deep Blue Data offers a new platform specialized for datasets that enables U-M researchers to meet data-sharing mandates and achieve their goals of making their research datasets more readily available to colleagues and peers throughout the world.
It can also assign a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) upon deposit, making it easier for people to cite and provide for proper attribution of research data.
Volker Sick, professor of mechanical engineering and associate vice president for the Office of Research, has been making extensive use of Deep Blue since 2011. Sick, whose work focuses on the next generation of combustion research, says that sharing the outputs of his work — which includes both documents and data — is imperative.
“Our extensive experimental data are used by researchers worldwide,” he explains. Until recently he has made do with the document-oriented functionality of Deep Blue.
Sick stresses the importance to the archival literature of this new ability to easily deposit and share datasets via a repository that’s optimized for this kind of information, and that enables datasets to be cited through the application of a DOI.
“It’s the logical next step in our ongoing commitment to preserve and provide access to the world-changing work of this university,” Westbrooks says.