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University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is developing new data platform

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Imagine a data platform which will help improve community resilience to natural disasters, avoid potential supply chain disruptions and accurately predict infectious disease outbreaks.

Those are on the list of goals of a fresh data platform being produced by the University of Michigans Institute for Social Research (ISR), that was awarded a $38 million investment from the National Science Foundation (NSF) earlier this season.

The brand new data platform will enable researchers in multiple fields to better collect, store and secure necessary information because of their studies. Previously, many researchers have faced obstacles such as for example incompatible data standards, missing or error-filled information and technical difficulties in managing large datasets.

The $38 million investment by the NSF is enabling the Institute for Social Research to determine the Research Data Ecosystem: A National Resource for Reproducible, Robust and Transparent Social Science Research in the 21st Century. ISR will oversee the creation of new data archives and software that researchers may use to gain access to, organize, analyze and contribute data.

THE STUDY Data Ecosystem (RDE) is really a five-year project and is likely to be completed by the finish of 2026, explained Jeannette Jackson, managing director of the RDE.

The task on RDE began on January 17, 2022, and is currently in the first stages of construction.

The initial products will undoubtedly be obtainable in 2024, Jackson noted. The outcome is a flexible data management system with a user-friendly interface that may enable researchers to deposit, seek out, utilize the cloud to utilize their data and disseminate their data in a safe and sound environment. The best goal would be to make it possible for researchers to get data and create new knowledge.

An urgent dependence on better quality research data

THE STUDY Data Ecosystem infrastructure project was initiated because ISR recognized the necessity to provide better data management and analytics support for researchers engaged in cutting-edge social science, Jackson said. ISR may be the largest academic social science survey and research organization on earth. The RDE work can be found within ISR at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the worlds largest social science archive focusing on curated data.

RDE is really a transformative infrastructure project that may modernize the ICPSR software platform and develop a suite of software tools to advance research in the social and behavioral sciences with a concentrate on the democratization of data, in accordance with Margaret Maggie Levenstein, director of ICPSR and primary investigator for the RDE.

Per Levenstein, the RDE will enable:

  • Interoperability: A built-in system for the whole research data lifecycle, in order that work done early in the info lifecycle pays to at later stages, to be able to integrate data from different sources.
  • Reproducibility: Rendering it better to reproduce and build on prior research results when you are in a position to find and reuse data and code.
  • Transparency: Providing information regarding provenance, including source, code and approach to collection for research data.
  • Efficiency of data sharing: Reducing burden on data producers in sharing data and making certain shared data are FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).
  • Confidentiality protection: Protecting confidentiality while increasing research access.

To accomplish these goals, the project will establish the study Data Description Framework for describing different research data lifecycle events. It is a metadata specification like the Resource Description Framework, Levenstein said.

RDE includes stand-alone functional components for every stage of the study lifecycle which will be interoperable collectively sufficient reason for key existing global research infrastructure, Levenstein said. The platform will support social and behavioral science researchers using traditional (e.g., survey and experimental) and novel (e.g., digital trace, imaging) forms of data on the entire research lifecycle, from data collection to analysis to sharing to rediscovery and re-analysis.

This infrastructure will enhance the quality, integrity and safety of data. It will increase option of data and collaboration between users across social science and behavioral science disciplines. It’ll achieve this with a interface made to make data more accessible over the board, Levenstein said.

Turning mountains of data into nuggets of insight

The brand new RDE platform basically seeks to resolve a problem that’s shared in just about any industry organizations collecting mountains of data that dont always talk to one another, and helps it be difficult to acquire meaningful insights inside it.

ICPSR began constructing digital archives for social science data in the 1960s to preserve and disseminate the novel data that ISR researchers were creating, Jackson said. In those days, each dataset was made using its own bespoke framework, permissions, metadata, etc.

Since that time, advances in the power of the IST to get data have resulted in an enormous influx of different data types and sizes. After the ICPSR software platform is modernized, these datasets could be associated with inform research within the social sciences.

Using bespoke environments is incredibly expensive when it comes to money and time for both researchers and data providers, Jackson said. The resulting data aren’t interoperable with other areas of the study ecosystem. This increases a researchers burden and reduces the product quality, transparency and reproducibility of research. RDE will accomplish these efficiently, at scale and in a manner that enhances the scientific standards of social science research.

The RDE platform has been built upon a fresh infrastructure (OpenShift/Kubernetes) with updated cloud-native technologies. The platform includes a group of shared services which cover functions including ingest, curation, search, dissemination, preservation, authentication and authorization.

The platform will improve the standard of data-driven social and behavioral science research on the entire data lifecycle, Levenstein said. This, in conjunction with a human-centered design interface, will enable researchers across disciplines to conduct their work better also to create, organize, archive, access and analyze data with techniques they cannot with existing infrastructure.The brand new infrastructure may also facilitate interactions between other areas of the study ecosystem by way of a system of APIs.

The NSF has committed to the brand new data platform to be able to help advance social science research capabilities, which are targeted at benefitting all citizens.

Research in the social, behavioral and economic sciences aims to boost knowledge of human behavior: how exactly we create, react to and so are shaped by the natural and social worlds, Jackson said. Progress in the social sciences enables effective, high-quality decision-making by individuals, parents and families, civic participants and civil society organizations, businesses and evidence-based policymakers.

An empirical renaissance over the social sciences where scientists are employing new computational methods, new experimental approaches and new data sources has transformed our knowledge of human society, from the determinants of inequality to how children figure out how to read, Jackson stressed.

These innovations in knowledge were enabled by researchers who gained usage of large, novel data digital traces of human activity that they plumbed for new insights. NSF has recognized that data abundance creates enormous opportunities: harnessing the info Revolution is among its priorities, Jackson said.

NSF has made considerable investments in ICPSR throughout its history, including facilitating the move from tape drives to the web.

We think that along with bolstering the investments they have manufactured in the social science archives at ICPSR that NSF now recognizes the necessity to invest in the capability to use bigger, more connected data in the cloud, Jackson said.

To comprehend the importance of the investment, Jackson shared a good example.

Imagine you want to study a specific ZIP code that’s recognized to have specific adverse health issues. You could arrived at ICPSR and safely and securely identify a variety of studies and data out of this ZIP code (EEG data, survey data, video data, geospatial data, criminal justice data, educational data, etc.), she said. You can then conduct research in the cloud in a manner that was never been possible before. RDE, once built, and with the work being done at ICPSR to curate data, will enable the study community at all levels to accomplish that.

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