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:
- Types of data
- Standards they will use for data and metadata
- Policies for access and sharing
- Policies and provisions for re-use
- 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.
The next post will discuss the current state of Data Management Plans as they are discussed in NSF Review Panels.