Portage Update: Highlights from August – February

Welcome to the first in a series of new blog posts highlighting CARL Portage activities and achievements. This first post will cover our milestones since August 2019 (updates on our prior activities can be found in our Portage Progress Reports). We have made progress on national data stewardship initiatives as well as national, collaborative research data management platforms, tools, and services through partnerships, outreach, our Expert and Working Groups, expansion of our Secretariat, and international collaboration. 

Funding from Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED) through CANARIE

Last August, CANARIE announced $2M in directed funding to CARL Portage from Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada (ISED). These funds are helping to augment and strengthen the Portage Network’s national data stewardship activities and capitalize on the momentum of the foundational work achieved to date. In addition to covering administrative expenses, the funding will provide much-needed RDM platform support and development. Specifically, these funds will help support strategic Portage and partner initiatives, including

  • Moving the Federated Research Data Repository (FRDR) into full production, in collaboration with the Compute Canada Federation, including their regional partners and hosting site institutions.
  • Providing support to OCUL/Scholars Portal to augment repository storage for a national instance of Dataverse.
  • Providing support to the University of Alberta for migration of the DMP Assistant to a new merged codebase, and development of a service plan.
  • Providing related support for a DMP Integration Sub-project with CASRAI (Consortia Advancing Standards in Research Administration Information).

Expanding our Secretariat

Our funding has enabled us to expand the Portage Secretariat to include a Training Coordinator, Curation Coordinator, Discovery and Metadata Coordinator, Preservation Coordinator, Project Manager, Project Officer, and Communications Officer. The newly expanded Secretariat looks forward to advancing RDM nationally, in collaboration with partners across the country, as part of the evolving digital research infrastructure ecosystem in Canada. These positions also align with our Expert and Working Groups to broaden the functionality of current Portage services and tools, and add capacity to national RDM support.

Partnering with Canadian Universities

Portage finalized participant agreements with five Canadian universities: the University of Alberta, the University of Saskatchewan, Simon Fraser University, the University of Toronto, and the University of Waterloo. These partnerships will help foster collaboration and leadership within the Canadian RDM community as well as further the development of RDM tools and infrastructure:

  • The University of Alberta will partner with Portage in hosting and delivering a national, bilingual, online Data Management Planning (DMP) tool – the DMP Assistant. As the current host of the DMP Assistant, the University of Alberta is well prepared for migration to DMP 2.0.
  • The University of Saskatchewan will partner with Portage in developing and delivering FRDR in full production. The University of Saskatchewan is home to the existing FRDR development team and has the expertise and capacity needed to provision and operate FRDR on a national scale.
  • Simon Fraser University and the University of Waterloo are established Compute Canada Federation host sites for the Cedar and Graham advanced research computing systems respectively, and will work with Portage to provide storage and associated technical support for FRDR.
  • The University of Toronto will partner with Portage in hosting a national instance of the Dataverse data repository platform through their Ontario Council of University Libraries’ Scholars Portal initiative. As hosts for Dataverse to universities across Canada, they share Portage’s vision for a national instance of Dataverse in Canada. They will also support the development of FRDR’s preservation pipeline, which includes AIP generation, dedicated AIP storage, and connections between FRDR storage and preservation service providers.

Collaborating Internationally on RDM Infrastructure 

FRDR was recently selected by FAIRsFAIR in their Open Call for Data Repositories: Support Towards Increasing Repository Interoperability. This exciting initiative seeks to support the “FAIRification” of repositories by discussing and designing implementation features that enable and increase repository interoperability. This will be achieved through building and testing prototypes of an interoperability layer for data repositories, and will ultimately improve the FAIRness of data in repositories that enable FAIR data. FRDR is among twelve repositories chosen from around the world, and will act as a ‘Tester Repository’. 

FRDR is also working with the European Union’s OpenAIRE initiative. OpenAIRE provides interoperability services to connect research and enable researchers, content providers, funders and research administrators to easily adopt open science. As a steward of Canada’s largest index of research metadata, FRDR will provide a clean metadata feed to the OpenAIRE Discovery portal, which provides access to Open Access research content from research and scholarly activities across all phases of the research life cycle. This will ensure that Canadian research and researchers are represented in this global research aggregation system. 

Expanding National Partnerships 

The Canadian Research Knowledge Network (CRKN) and CARL Portage were approved as consortial members of DataCite, and the new DataCite Canada Consortium launched on January 1, 2020. Through this partnership, CRKN will act as the administrative lead for the DataCite Canada Consortium and CARL Portage will oversee community support and engagement. As a part of this new consortial approach, CRKN and CARL Portage are assuming responsibility for DataCite Canada from the National Research Council (NRC). The new consortium will fully support existing members, as well as provide an opportunity to welcome new organizations to the DataCite community.

Progress Towards a New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization

As a key player in the Data Management ecosystem, Portage is actively involved in discussions with representatives of the New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO). In December, meetings were held to discuss the integration of data management into the NDRIO as well as plans to build and grow sustainable RDM support for researchers and institutions in Canada. Furthermore, a Governance and Membership Model was released, and recruitment for both membership and an Inaugural Board of Directors began.  

Leading through Expert and Working Groups

The Portage Research Intelligence Expert Group (RIEG) published its Institutional Strategy Progress Survey Results (PDF). The survey measured the successes and challenges Canadian research institutions experience in developing their own institutional strategies on RDM, with 63 research institutions represented in the results. The Group also released the Executive Summary of their RDM Services Capacity Survey (PDF – EN and FR), which evaluated the current efforts of Canadian research institutions in developing and allocating human, organizational, infrastructure, and fiscal resources for RDM on their campuses. An updated French version of their RDM Taxonomy is also in progress. 

The Metadata subgroup of the Dataverse North Working Group published Dataverse North Metadata Best Practices Guide V2.0 (PDF), which provides users with best practices for creating citation metadata in Dataverse. 

The Indigenous Data Subgroup of the Responsible Practices for Sensitive Data Working Group is making good progress on a DMP template for research projects involving Indigenous data. This template will seek to identify and address issues that should be considered when conducting research involving Indigenous communities.  

The Curation Expert Group, in collaboration with McMaster University Library and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), hosted the Canadian Data Curation Forum (CDCF) at McMaster University in Hamilton from October 16 to 18, 2019. This event brought together representatives from a range of institutions and organizations with the goal of fostering a national community of practice to catalyze the development and adoption of data curation standards, practices, tools, and skills across disciplines and institutions. The event was held in two parts: a Data Curation Training Event with workshops focused on knowledge sharing and hands-on skill-building, and a Community-Building Forum, designed to develop an understanding of Canada’s current curation capacity and challenges. Attendees of the Community-Building Forum were active participants in modeling a vision for a national approach to data curation in Canada that would address these challenges. The Group is finalizing a report which summarizes the event, reports outcomes of the Forum, and proposes next steps for expanding data curation services and support in Canada.

Participating in Conferences and Outreach

Portage Director Jeff Moon presenting at CODATA in Helsinki.

The Portage Secretariat was active in a number of national and international conferences and events, including

Looking Forward

Portage is looking forward to continued engagement and collaborative leadership within the RDM community. Here are some things to watch for in the coming months:

  • Portage’s DMP Expert Group is working on Exemplar DMPs.
  • Portage Director Jeff Moon will be participating in RDM Days at Sheridan College, Fanshawe College, Brock University, CAREB, CARA, and McGill University.
  • The FRDR User Experience and Training Working Group is developing a series of introductory training videos to guide new FRDR users. 
  • “Knowledge Sharing in the Digital Era: Data Management in Creative Research”, Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, September 25-26. 
  • Further discussions with NDRIO on data management, advanced research computing, and research software.
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