Cr8it: Capturing Data and Files into a Research Data Catalogue

Cr8it is the Capturing Data and Files into a Research Data Catalogue Project 

One of the challenges in research data management is capturing data in various states of organisation (files, databases, proprietary systems) for long-term preservation and/or publication. The eResearch team at Western Sydney University is leading a discussion of this as part of our work  building a Research Data Catalogue for the University under the ANDS (opens in a new window) Metadata Stores funding stream. We are looking for collaborators interested in:

  • Specifying standard interfaces for data capture systems to feed data to other systems
  • Making research file systems easier to use and explore for researchers, with services to discover files, group them, describe them and submit them for long term storage, with or without publication

This is now an active project (opens in a new window) with a public code repository.

There are two main drivers for this work.

  1. Our research communities have large volumes of data, which are sitting on file-shares (or worse, on desktops and thumb-drives) with no metadata, and no preservation strategy. We need a way to identify what is important and why, label and group data and deposit it in repositories for archiving and dissemination (ie advertising its existence and publishing it to appropriate authorised audiences).
  2. Our teaching community is making a rapid move to Blended Learning practices where classroom interaction is supported with electronic online and offline resources and interactivity. Not to mention that the university has just bought several thousand iPads for students and staff. There is a growing requirement to manage large amounts of electronic content, and to be able to publish it in a consistent, standardized ways across multiple platforms. On the face of it, these things might not seem to be related, but the same application framework can assist both.

To support researchers trying to sift through large volumes of files the eResearch team plans to provide a web application that can show the contents of those files using web-versions, or previews of them, including stuff like Word documents, spreadsheets and presentations in addition to image, video, audio and research specific formats. The idea is to provide file sharing services to support teams, and then to expose those resources via a website in a way that makes it easy to discover what is there.

The Connection to Learning?

Having web-versions of resources is precisely what's needed to also support Blended Learning. The web is the basis for cross-platform materials distribution and the starting point for e-books as well.

Being able to identify sets of resources and package them together is a shared requirement again, to create data sets for research, and to create sets of learning materials.

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