CCI’s Links up with World Data System as a Leader in Open Science Initiatives
Caption: Meredith Goins, director of World Data System, speaks with attendees at the World Data Systems Conference in Knoxville in summer 2023
A communication college working with the Department of Energy is not a very common occurrence. But the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has never been afraid of charting new courses, and the College of Communication and Information is always a bold research leader.
DOE’s Office of Science awarded CCI researcher, Chancellor’s Professor Suzie Allard, with a grant to support the World Data System’s International Program Office (WDS-IPO). The World Data System is a global network of repositories that hold science data which serve scientists around the world. The University of Tennessee Oak Ridge Innovation Institute (UT-ORII) hosts the WDS-IPO with office resources.
“The U.S. has declared this the year of open science. Open science is important for serving society, and data repositories are essential for conducting open science across the U.S. and globally,” said Allard, who is also director of CCI’s Research & Innovation Center. “Data repositories provide scientists with ways to find and use data for their studies. UT and UT-ORII are proud to support the open science initiative both in the US and internationally through hosting the WDS-IPO.”
How scientists in various fields maintain their data is a pressing issue across the nation and the world.
“We interviewed our WDS membership over the last couple of years and they stated it’s really hard for them to find long-term sustainability,” said Meredith Goins, executive director of WDS-IPO. “They had initial funding for a project, which created data, they had funding to house it during the project, but now the project is done. What do they do with their data now?”
This issue highlights the challenge of keeping data for open science available long-term; this is called repository sustainability.
CCI recently stepped up to collaborate on hosting the World Data System’s first Repository Sustainability Summit. It was a natural fit since CCI offers an online Research Data Management Graduate Certificate program and a data-focused undergraduate degree in the School of Information Sciences. The World Data System Repository Sustainability Summit took place July 20-21 at UT. The two-day event was designed for WDS members and prospective members who wanted to learn how to improve their planning for keeping their repository strong by connecting with resources and partners. Attendees had the opportunity to network with peers, hear from experts, and share best practices on how to make data more sustainable and impactful.
“Hosting an international workshop about the importance of data repositories highlights UT’s ties to open science and builds credibility for UT. International leaders in the field joined us and they got to see what we are doing here at UT,” said Goins, who graduated from UT with a master’s in information sciences and is currently a student in the CCI doctoral program. “An event like this also serves our land grant mission. Our state benefits from showcasing our talented people and the work we are doing here.”
Invited speakers at the Summit included representatives of the National Institutes of Health, NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, UNESCO, and the International Science Council.
The mission of the World Data System is to enhance the capabilities, impact, and sustainability of its member data repositories and data services creating trusted communities of scientific data repositories, strengthening the scientific enterprise throughout the entire lifecycle of data and all related components creating first-class data that feeds research output, and advocating for accessible data and transparent reproducible science.
“A global effort is required to make data accessible and repositories sustainable. Part of what we do at the World Data System is to promote awareness and develop strategies to achieve these objectives,” said David Castle, chair of the Scientific Committee, which is the WDS governing body. “By aligning our International Programs Office at UT with the International Technology Office at the University of Victoria in Canada, we contribute to the global conversation about research data while providing services to our member repositories. We are always looking for ways to make repositories more robust and resilient.”
Maintaining data can benefit many sectors of society and provide lifelines and solutions for future generations. Sometimes that may be unexpected areas, Goins notes, “One of our WDS repositories has a collection of data about endangered languages, so languages that are no longer even spoken. Keeping this data in repositories assures that these languages are not forgotten.”
WDS wants to help people find data so they can use it to explore processes to solve societal challenges. CCI strives to support this goal.
“By hosting the WDS-IPO and this event, UT is showing we are a leader in helping to support all kinds of research; we are truly an ‘everything’ school,” Allard said. “CCI is leading our land grant mission by using our expertise and power skills to help make sure there is good data to help people now and into the future.”
Written by Rhiannon Potkey