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Research at Duke and the future of the DDR

The Duke Digital Repository (DDR) is a growing service, and the Libraries are growing to support it. As I post this entry, our jobs page shows three new positions comprising five separate openings that will support the DDR. One is a DevOps position which we have re-envisioned from a salary line that opened with a staff member’s departure. The other four consist of two new positions, with two openings for each, created to meet specific, emerging needs for supporting research data at Duke.

Last fall at Duke, the Vice Provosts for Research and the Vice President for Information Technology convened a Digital Research Faculty Working Group. It included a number of faculty members from around campus, as well as several IT administrators, the latter of whom served in an ex-officio capacity. The Libraries were represented by our Associate University Librarian for Information Technology, Tim McGeary (who happens to be my supervisor).

Membership of the Digital Research Faculty Group. This image and others in the post are slides taken from a presentation I gave to the Libraries’ all-staff meeting in August.

The group “met to discuss what services and support are needed to support the quickly increasing volume of digital research and data output by faculty and researchers” (quote from the Working Group’s report, which is not publicly available ETA available here). Much of its analysis drew on the approach taken by the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR). According to PURR’s web site, the program “provides an online, collaborative working space and data-sharing platform” for researchers.

The working group at Duke explicitly included the Libraries’ technology and services in its recommendations. It endorsed the DDR’s platforms “as required university resources to support the Academic Council’s open access policy, the compliance of federal funding agency publication and future data retention mandates, and to provide the strategic, long-term discovery, access, and preservation of faculty research and scholarly output.” It also recommended the creation of two new positions – each of which consists of two openings – that will be joining the Libraries.

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There are two places in the “service map” diagram where stick figures appear – one near the beginning of the research lifecycle, the other near the end. These figures represent the new positions joining the library staff. I’ll highlight each of the new positions in turn.

The Senior Research Data Management Consultant position “provides consulting and instruction in the policies, resources, and methods of data management.” The consultants will perform outreach to researchers, getting involved early in the process of developing a research proposal. They’ll need to be conversant in strategies of organizing and managing a wide range of research data types with the goal of improving data management skills, awareness of data policies, and data sharing/compliance at Duke. These consultations will include a focus on privacy concerns for sensitive and restricted data. The Data Management Consultants will be members of the Data & Visualization Services Department.

The Senior Research Data Consultants join the Data & Visualization Services Department (DVS), and provide support for data management planning.

The Digital Repository Content Analyst position will be based in the department that I manage, Digital Production Initiatives. These analysts will provide key support at the back end of the research cycle, assisting with the curation of research data, ingesting it into the DDR or other discipline-specific repositories, minting Digital Object Identifiers, and helping to insure its sustainability and accessibility. They will need to be knowledgeable about file formats, and skilled at batch processing and metadata creation.

The Digital Repository Content Analysts join the Digital Production Initiatives Department (DPI), and assist with ingest and management of research data in the DDR and other, discipline-specific repositories.

The searches are underway for these new positions, and the changes that they bring set a course for the DDR and the Libraries. Greater engagement with researchers on campus via repository services represents a new direction that we recognized as an organization in our new strategic plan, which was finalized last spring. The final slide below quotes in full the very first of the goal set by the plan. Our investment in this area shows the Libraries’ commitment to the future of research at Duke.

Quoted from the Libraries’ new strategic plan.