The Illinois Research Data Initiative seeks to:

  • Raise awareness among faculty, research staff, students, and administrators of issues related to research data management practices, curation of data for long term access and use, and the sharing of research data;
  • Provide forums for discussion of discipline specific issues related to research data;
  • Understand the needs across campus for infrastructure and services related to research data support and where gaps exist; and
  • Work with units across campus to build the infrastructure and services to fill gaps and provide a base level of service for the stewardship of research data produced on campus.

The Illinois Research Data Initiative has been launched as a direct result of the Chancellor’s Next Steps Letter in response to the Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois IT (SEI-IT) Project Team report.

From the Stewarding Excellence @ Illinois IT (SEI-IT) Project Team report:

We find increasing value for research in maintaining large, secure and reusable formats for our valuable data. Data management and curation services will be an inevitable expense soon demanded for a portion of our annual $278M sponsored research, but these costs can be significantly reduced if we plan now to develop coordinated university-wide services to confront this issue.

and later Expect improvements to be in compliance, quality of curation, policies, and access rather than in cost savings

From the Chancellor’s Next Steps Letter:

Data Stewardship: Increasingly, funding agencies are requiring, or considering requiring, grant awardees to keep perpetually the data generated by the grant-funded projects and, in some instances, to make those data openly accessible. Even when not required, long-term data storage and accessibility will be useful both to the researchers who generate data and to other scholars who may find that research useful to their work. As a major research university, the campus must offer the capability for researchers to store and access such data.

Data curation and stewardship cannot be provided by a single campus entity but rather should be built and operated by a strong partnership of relevant campus units and built on infrastructure and systems that have served the university well throughout its history. We are designating University Librarian and Dean of Libraries Paula Kaufman to lead a group to study this subject area and to produce an action plan for how we address the needs of our researchers and students. Members of the group will include representatives from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the Office of the CIO, and the Graduate School of Information and Library Sciences.

One definition of stewardship (from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) is “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care”. The underlying goal of the Illinois Research Data Initiative is to ensure that, as a campus, we carefully and responsibly manage research data. To accomplish this goal, we must first understand the range and scope of data generated and used by our researchers, learn how that data is managed today, determine the appropriate roles and integration of institutional and disciplinary repositories, establish practices for how data should be managed in the future,  and create sustainable models that provide researchers, units and the campus as a whole effective ways to follow those practices. We must learn about research data from our campus community, and we must educate our campus community in all aspects of data stewardship. In the end, we want to establish a thriving and sustainable data ecosystem for Illinois.

The 2011-12 academic year will include seminars, workshops, surveys, interviews, research, outreach, etc., all designed to accomplish the full range of tasks identified above.

A more personal and informal way of describing this initiative is that we want to make sure you can find and use “your stuff” when you need it, and make it easier for you to find and use “stuff” that others have created that can advance your own research.

The Illinois Research Data Initiative is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the University Library, the Graduate College, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and is coordinated by the campus level Data Stewardship Committee.

The membership of the Data Stewardship Committee is:

  • Paula Kaufman (University Library) – Chair
  • Paul Hixson (Office of the CIO)
  • John Unsworth (GSLIS)
  • Melanie Loots (Office of the VCR)
  • Howard Guenther (Office of the VCR)
  • Beth Sandore (University Library)
  • Sarah Shreeves (University Library)
  • Bill Mischo (University Library)
  • Mark Zulauf (Graduate College)
  • Mike Grady (Office of the CIO)
  • John Towns (NCSA)

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