Project member Holly Ranger presented some preliminary findings from the PR Voices Survey at the 17th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC), 13-16 June. The IDCC is an annual event for the digital curation community to network, share the outcomes of research and practice projects, and to showcase works in progress that offers insights or practical lessons that advance digital curation research or practice. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Reusability’.
Practice research outputs are typically multi-component portfolios or collections of non-text file formats which are disseminated and hosted in separate places, such as personal websites, institutional repositories, and commercial video-sharing platforms. Practice research also produces a variety of non-tangible research outputs, typically a practice activity such as improvisation or a live performance that is time-based and ephemeral. These factors pose a significant challenge to the preservation and reuse of practice research data, and for too long practice researchers have been attempting to present contributions to knowledge made through practice without suitable infrastructure to do so.
The IDCC22 conference paper presented the preliminary findings of a qualitative and quantitative data mapping exercise, based on the PR Voices Survey conducted with creative practitioners across the UK.
The research data mapping exercise was conducted on a subset of questions embedded within the PR Voices Survey that asked respondents specifically about practice research data. This subset of survey questions was adapted from the Jisc Data Asset Framework (DAF) survey, making good use of a pre-existing methodology designed specifically to collect information on what types and volumes of data institutions hold and existing research data management practices. Community engagement is central to the methodology of the project, and the question set was adapted in an iterative consultation process with a community advisory group to ensure suitability and relevance, particularly by tailoring the language of the questions to reflect the specialised terminology of the practice research community.
In conclusion, the data mapping exercise identified that there were socio-cultural as well as technical barriers to research data sharing and reuse in practice research:
- There are a vast variety of practice research data file formats which are currently not supported by existing infrastructure;
- Researchers and practitioners are unable to display practice research data in a meaningful way in existing repository infrastructure;
- There are both technical barriers and a lack of expertise around metadata;
- There is a lack of guidance on or understanding of recommended formats for preservation and reuse
- There is a lack of understanding of copyright and licensing for re-use.
A full summary of the preliminary findings is provided on the presentation slides, which you can access here.
In addition to presenting the project’s preliminary findings, the paper provided a practical model for – and demonstrated the value of – working closely with research data creator communities to enable and maximise reuse.