Data research group gets funding help

A group dedicated to preserving and making accessible data created by Canadian government, university and private sector researchers has found funding from the country’s high-speed research network.

Research Data Canada (RDC) said Monday that CANAIRE will fund its ongoing activities until the end of March 2015. CANARIE ties together a number of research networks from across the country. The amount of the monies wasn’t announced.

RDC is a co-ordinating body for a number of agencies including the National Research Council, Environment Canada, universities, the Canadian Association of Research Libraries, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Index of Wellbeing and others trying to establish standards for data management of publicly-funded research in this country — everything from genetics to weather.

For decades this data has been published in printed journals, noted CANARIE CEO Jim Ghadbane in an interview. But as research and analysis increasing turns to digital forms questions of retention and access to original data have to be addressed.

RDC’s standards will help make research data available to both the private and public sectors where possible. There are, for example, privacy issues involved in medical research data. In part RDC’s efforts feed into the open data movement to make government data available to the public.

Created in 2012, RDC has lacked a stable base of funding and relied on volunteer work. But at a January meeting a leadership council on creating a national digital strategy “it was quite clear that the community recognized the need for a strategy for research data, ”  Ghadbane said.  CANARIE — largely funded by the federal government — decided that it had been providing “a bit of funding” until now, was willing to put more in.

Data Research Canada fits well with CANARIE because it also deals with research software tools, Ghadbane said.

RDC said in a statement it hopes the pace its work will increase in the next 12 months. It will, for example, shortly release a glossary of terms to promote shared understanding of what is involved. It is also coordinating a federated pilot project that involves a number of organizations coming together to meet researchers’ needs for data management.

RDC also works with the Research Data Alliance, an international group looking at research data management. Its governing council includes Fran Berman, professor of computer science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, N.Y. and Tony Hey, vice-president of Microsoft Research Connections.

“Data-driven research has changed the nature of academic inquiry across many disciplines and is opening up rich new areas of study, particularly in the social sciences and humanities,” Ted Hewitt, executive vice-president of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada said in a statement. “CANARIE’s support of Research Data Canada is an important step towards evolving a more strategic and coordinated digital infrastructure that takes into account the rapidly growing need for data management. As such, it will help to secure Canada’s future research advantage and is a vital component of our continued economic success.”

RDC has five working groups: One is looking at creating policies, another looks into education and training, a third oversees infrastructure, an international liaison team works to facilitate Canadian participation in international data interoperability activities, while a standards team will work to develop a plan to drive the adoption of data management standards in Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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