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DCXL, Policies & NSF Data Management Plans

Posted in UC3

Unless you live in a cave, you are probably aware that NSF started requiring that researchers submit a two-page supplement to all proposals titled “Data Management Plan”.  To paraphrase from the Grant Proposal Guide, investigators are told they need to discuss:

  1. Types of data
  2. Standards they will use for data and metadata
  3. Policies for access and sharing
  4. Policies and provisions for re-use
  5. Plans for archiving, preserving, and providing access to data

Points #3 and #4 were discussed quite a bit last week at the Data Governance Workshop I attended, with much concern from myself over how scientists would be able to find and comprehend these policies.  If a room full of librarians, funders, publishers, and experts can’t figure out what policies might apply to scientific data, I began to wonder if scientists had any hope understanding data governance.  I think they do, so long as some of the proposed products that will result from the workshop come to fruition.

So where might the Excel add-in we are developing fit into this scheme? The first version of the add-in will likely not have much utility for data governance issues, like setting policies, establishing access rights, and restricting data availability.  We do, however, envision that this add-in might provide a framework for future developers to implement tools to facilitate good data governance practices.  This might be in the form of a link to an archive’s policy, metadata with provisions for access and use, or other methods.

I like to think that because this add-in is intended to be open-source, it will become a useful tool upon which savvy developers can build in capabilities for things like governance, collaboration, links to social networking tools, etc.

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