ADVANCE seed grant awarded

It’s official: the Open Knowledge Lab’s latest new project, a study of how researchers assess data, has been funded under the UMD ADVANCE seed grant program!

Lab Director Wiggins will work with Dr. Melissa Kenney and her team on a study of climate indicators—data visualizations with brief text descriptions and links to provenance describing the sources of data and analysis processes—and how scientists assess the data when these pieces of content are delivered in different ways.

Right now, there’s a big push for scientific data to be shared and re-used, but sharing these data effectively is harder than it sounds. First, there’s a lot of “extra work” involved, and the payoff to the sharer isn’t always obvious or direct. Second, without that extra work (or in spite of it), using data collected by someone else is often simply harder from an analytical standpoint, even if it does save you a whole lot of time and money on collecting the data.

There are a lot of reasons that it’s challenging to re-use scientific data, but right from the start, you have to figure out if the data set in front of you will be useful. This is an especially challenging task and still a fairly big problem in the area of data discovery, so we hope the results of this study can help reduce this critical bottleneck to effective data discovery and use. At the end of the day, if representing data sets in a particular way helps convey their value to potential data consumers more effectively, then it would clearly be worth the relatively small added effort required to package the data with a decent graph and a few sentences pointing out important details.

For this project, Dr. Alyson Young will join the OK Lab for the summer as a Research Associate, and will lead the development and data collection for the qualitative portion of the study. Alyson’s dissertation research focused on understanding meta-study practices in land change science, which requires researchers to re-use and combine data sets from different sources, so her related expertise is exceptionally well aligned with the themes of this study and we are very excited to have her assistance on this study. Welcome to the team, Alyson!