Infrastructure and services for research data management have largely been built from the bottom up in Canada. In the absence of national platform funding for research data management infrastructure or a national data management policy, a patchwork of infrastructure and services emerged between 2010 and 2015 through regional consortia and institutional initiatives to address needs in research data stewardship. A key challenge to implementing national services from the bottom up is being able to coordinate activities across stakeholders working in the same space. This is the context in which Portage was established.
The Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) first addressed a framework for national research data management infrastructure in 2010 with a proposal for cyberinfrastructure funding. Over eighteen months was spent developing this proposal, which included consultations with researchers and other stakeholders. When the 2011 funding program for cyberinfrastructure did not include a platform competition, CARL chose to refocus its approach to national infrastructure development.
Beginning in December 2013, a CARL working group started investigating a nationally coordinated research data management infrastructure that is built on regional library consortia and individual institutional developments in data stewardship. In September 2014, a working model for the shared stewardship of research data was in place and in the April and May 2015, an implementation plan was developed and approved by CARL.
Portage is committed to a national network supporting research data management infrastructure and services through the development of collaborations with regional library consortia, individual institutional libraries, and other stakeholders. Through its Network of Expertise and Infrastructure Platforms, Portage is coordinating research data services of value to Canada’s research community. Experts and organizations in research data management are invited to work or partner with Portage to achieve the goals of shared stewardship for research data.
The Portage Network of Expertise is developing resources, expert advice, and practical help to assist with the management of research data at any stage throughout the data lifecycle. Those providing assistance will be front-line support staff in libraries and data centres at Canadian universities, with the aim of building capacity and knowledge in these communities. In cases where an institution has no such support, help will be provided directly to a research team or individual researcher.
Portage Infrastructure Platforms for research data management are being developed through partnerships with other infrastructure providers. Among these platforms are online tools for data planning, data ingest, data access, data preservation processing, archival storage, and discovery services. Local, regional, and national providers will host this infrastructure while Portage will offer services based on these platforms and will strive for interoperability across infrastructure providers.
In the coming months, this section of the Portage website will include additional topics about how researchers, librarians and data curators, policy makers and administrators, and infrastructure and service providers can work with Portage to provide national research data management infrastructure and services.