A new chapter for Data Conservancy

The recent beta release of the Data Conservancy software marks not only an evolution in the data curation capabilities of the software. It also marks a new chapter in the Data Conservancy community.
With this release, Data Conservancy comes to the end of its current funding from the NSF DataNet program. For the past several years, DataNet and the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University supported Data Conservancy collaborators as we worked to make significant progress in many key areas. Those areas included a focused research program that examined research practices both broadly across multiple disciplines as well as deeply in selected disciplines in order to understand the data curation tools and services needed to support the interdisciplinary research community. We also developed a cyberinfrastructure base on which these data management and preservation services could be layered, developed a deeper understanding of data management within the research community as well as workforce development within the library community. And finally, we studied sustainability models for long-term data curation, which led directly to the development of a sustained data management service at Johns Hopkins University.
We realized during this phase what it would take to make long-term data management economically sustainable: free from the shorter-term goals and funding cycles of the research grants systems. We look eagerly forward to this new phase in which we are sustained by the longer-term commitments of our collaborating institutions to provide data management infrastructure.
The commitment to data curation runs very deep in the Data Conservancy partners. Well before the NSF DataNet program, we were joined by our recognition of the need for institutional and community solutions to digital research data collection, curation and preservation challenges. The Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins had initiated a dialogue with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) years ago that began shortly after Johns Hopkins University (JHU) received the award for the National Virtual Observatory (NVO). This unique collaboration led to an agreement for the Sheridan Libraries to curate the SDSS data even before the Data Conservancy award. A conversation during the 2006 International Digital Curation Conference between Sayeed Choudhury and Carole Palmer at the University of Illinois launched an ongoing collaboration that highlights Johns Hopkins as a “laboratory” for data curation research and development. During the DataNet phase, Data Conservancy reached into other domains through new relationships with the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Marine Biological Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research thereby connecting DC research, development and prototyping efforts to the Earth sciences, life sciences and social sciences domains.
In this new phase, in which we are an independent community but now equipped with the knowledge and the solid beginnings of a system that can make our vision a reality, we anticipate the implementation of new instances of the Data Conservancy software. These include the ELOKA (Exchange for Local and Traditional Knowledge of the Arctic) program at the National Snow and Ice Data Center; the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER); and a proposed instance for the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS). We are just beginning work with IEEE and Portico to define a standard set of protocols for connecting data to publications that both data repositories and publishers can use. As well, we continue to develop Data Conservancy software features, evaluate use of the system, and research new technologies that enhance curation and use capabilities.
As we move into our future, the Data Conservancy community seeks new contributions. We welcome additional collaborators who can bring their own institutional support or related funding to bear on the common needs of data curation. Working together, we can produce a more complete system to address the challenges in allowing the full potential of data integration and discovery to be realized. Contact us to start the conversation.

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