Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Data Archiving of Publicly Funded Research in Canada

Carol Perry presented this revealing study at last year's Access & Privacy Workshop 2006 held in Toronto. Its objectives were:
  • "To assess the attitudes of academic researchers regarding the archiving of data resulting from publicly funded research
  • To assess impediments to the creation of a national data archive program in Canada"
She randomly polled 173 SSHRC grant recipients for 2004-2005 (with 75 respondents). Her results:
  • "41% indicated they had current plans to archive their research data
  • Of these, only 18.7% identified an established data archive as a deposit site for their data.
  • 72% were not aware of SSHRC’s mandatory data archiving policy for all grant recipients
  • 90% were not aware that Canada is a recent signatory to the OECD declaration on access to publicly funded data."

•"In 2001:
  • 60% favoured a national data archive
  • 39% analyzed data created by others
•In 2006:
  • 69% favoured a national data archive
  • 48% analyzed data created by others"

"86.7% would not alter their grant-seeking behaviour if SSHRC enforced its data archiving policy"

These results are both hopeful and frustrating: meta-analysis is up, support for a national data archive is up, there is little perceived negative impact by researchers of SSHRC data archiving policy and almost half of the respondents indicated that they were planning to archive their data; on the other hand, 3/4 of the respondents didn't even know about SSHRC's policy, and 9/10 didn't know about Canada's recent OECD commitment (which has led to the recent publication from the OECD: OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding, which has a great deal of overlap with Canada's National Consultation on Access to Research Data (2005) and the earlier National Data Archive Consultation Building Infrastructure for Access to and Preservation of Research Data (2002)).

I believe the level of acceptance of researchers is high enough to move forward on an national data archive, and clearly there also needs to be a better education campaign by SSHRC and other Canadian research funding bodies both at the strategic level - read "policy and funding" - and at the tactical level - read "engaging, informing and educating researchers".

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