Welcome to my Weblog. This site is dedicated to my thoughts, views and understanding on anything that touches upon records management, archives management as well as information management in Malaysia. I believe in becoming a 'functional and meaningful' information professional, the term I refer to as person who can function in many ways possible for the betterment of this discipline. Interested parties, may reproduce or quote materials published with the condition that they are credited to Comments must be accompanied by names or pseudonyms. Anonymous postings and those containing profanities and obscenities will be rejected.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

More benefits of having DATA ARCHIVE

Dear all....please read through!

The benefits to users of having access to The Data Archive are fairly obvious. They obtain expensive resources cheaply - often these are data which they could not have collected themselves such as census material or data which are by-products of administrative processes. High quality research is promoted as a result of this access. The re-analysis of data from a different perspective is encouraged. The access to data in electronic form permits a level and depth of analysis which cannot be undertaken with published material.
It is critical that data producers should be aware of the benefits to them of sharing data if we are to continue to persuade them to make their data available. These are discussed below.

There are strong reasons for depositing data so that secondary analysts have access to them. In this way the data producers can contribute to the development of knowledge by ensuring their data are exploited to their full potential. Secondary research facilitates multiple perspectives upon data which have often been collected to address a narrower range of questions. Similarly comparative research can be encouraged by the preservation of multiple data sets for access.

A further reason for providing access to data is that it assists in the training of empirical social researchers. Often data archives can be actively involved in teaching or in setting up teaching opportunities. For instance, a large number of the social science data archives run summer schools on empirical social research. The building and sharing of teaching materials can be carried out by data archives taking advantage of their links into many academic networks. The recent establishment of EU funded large scale facilities in the social sciences at the Central Archive (ZA) in Germany and the UK Data Archive will also help to promote the use of data in teaching.

The Data Archive assists in the promotion of data through catalogues often held electronically, links with other archives and data suppliers, by submitting material to relevant newsletters, and e-mail lists, and running data workshops and giving presentations at conferences. Assistance by user services staff helps to ensure that informed use is made of the data whilst data providers are cushioned from the demands of users who have queries on the data and how to use them. In this way The Data Archive acts as a buffer between users and producers of data. This is an especially useful role because many queries and problems are unrelated to the data. Many potential users of data have little experience of computing or statistical analysis and often have limited assistance at their own institutions. Supporting users is time consuming and requires an understanding of their needs. The Data Archive can draw on resources for funding support which may not be available to producers.

Data producers are increasingly interested in forging links with users, in order to take advantage of users' expertise and to create a community of knowledgeable data users. The Data Archive assists with the establishment of this relationship which can be very useful to data providers. They might consult this 'expert group', get feedback on use especially relating to policy relevant research and have access to a community of supporters who will fight with them when their resources and therefore their data are under threat.
The supply of data for secondary analysis reduces the need to collect data afresh and thus reduces respondent burden. Compliance costs are a concern particularly when data are required from small populations such as surveys of businesses or elites.

The Data Archive improves the accessibility of data by employing demand led distribution systems and by integrating different datasets. Value is added to data directly by The Data Archive staff or by requiring users of the data to redeposit data to which they have added value. This might be by adding contextual information, improving or advising on documentation, reformatting data for delivery, extracting subsets of data and documentation, providing systems to permit data to be visualised, browsed and extracts selected. An important attraction of giving access to data for secondary analysis is that credit will accrue to the depositor. We try to ensure that this happens by specifying that acknowledgement must take place and advising on the wording of citations. The Data Archive periodically writes to journal editors to alert them to the requirement to cite data sources.

In order to persuade data providers to deposit data it is vital that we ensure that their conditions of access are carried out. In some situations this can involve implementing controls over use and occasionally charges for data must be collected. It is also important that we are sensitive to confidentiality issues.

Data Archive must build reputation on the fact that it can preserve the electronic information in a way which permits both data and documentation to be accessible over time. The data management and preservation system must ensure :
  • physical reliability of digital information
  • security of data and documentation from unauthorised use
  • on-going usability of data & documentation
  • integration of the data into information and delivery systems.
Management of data with very variable access regimes requires expertise, equipment and operational systems as well as trust and credibility. Since very few data providers have built the expertise and facilities needed to preserve data so that they can be read over time despite changes to hardware and software environments a major advantage is achieved by giving depositors priority access to their own data.