Presentation on theme: "UKRDS Conference 26 February 2009 A Researchers Perspective: the Value and Challenge of Data Professor John Coggins Vice Principal, Life Sciences & Medicine."— Presentation transcript:
UKRDS Conference 26 February 2009 A Researchers Perspective: the Value and Challenge of Data Professor John Coggins Vice Principal, Life Sciences & Medicine University of Glasgow
My Perspective Initially trained as a chemist Researcher in biochemistry and molecular biology Frequent collaborator with industry Manager in the life sciences and medicine Member of BBSRC Council Member of the Research Information Network Advisory Board An officer of several learned societies Previously an adviser to the Scottish Government
The Challenge The volume and complexity of the digital and other data being produced by researchers is very rapidly increasing Researchers need to access data from all over the world In many fields research data is rarely used outside the originators laboratory/department Skills for the management and curation of research data are under developed Research data is often unstructured and inaccessible to others There is no consistency of policy or practice across the disciplines and the funders
The Value of Making Data More Accessible Much research data, because it is not readily accessible, represents a huge untapped resource Generally data is never fully analysed by the researchers who generate it As a result there is increasing demand to access other peoples data There can be much added value generated from data mining and combining data sets
The Attitudes of Researchers Researchers are often not good at retaining or managing data beyond the life time of funded projects Most data is stored locally if there is no national or international facility Most researchers are willing to share data; they usually do so through informal peer exchange networks Although only about one fifth of researchers deposit data more than two fifths are interested in accessing other researchers data.
The Attitudes of Funders of Research Wish to protect and enhance their investment in research by ensuring that data is made widely available so that the greatest value can be extracted from it Would like to maximise the opportunity for re- use, cross-reference and data set integration Would like to ensure that valuable data sets are stored securely and remain readily accessible to future researchers
Data Management and Curation There must be agreement among researchers on the quality and format of the data This can be slow to achieve especially if limited resources are available e.g. The Protein Data Base It is essential to invest in the infrastructure (machines and people) for data management, curation and storage as well as for easy access This frequently requires international collaboration and very substantial funding to provide the permanent delivery organisation e.g. The European Bioinformatics Institute
What do researchers want Confidence that their data will be permanently stored and remain readily accessible Confidence that the charges for managing, curating and storing data will be met Ability to access freely other peoples data preferably on a world wide basis Training in data mining and in the intelligent management and use of data
Some Complications Commercially sensitive data: will companies be willing to share data? Personal data for example patient data: this would need to be made anonymous Sometimes there may be ethical issues about making personal data accessible and using it for new purposes for which prior permission was not obtained
Funding Ideally all researchers should be able to have free access to a UK-wide data service However the provision of a service will have to be paid for by the major stake holders The Funding Councils and the Research Councils are likely to provide funding (DIUS) What about the private sector? What about the major charities that fund research? What about other Government Departments such as DEFRA, Department of Health etc.?
The way forward The Research Community would welcome a UK- wide approach to data management Provision, policy and practice across the disciplines and funders must become more consistent Researchers need to improve their skills for managing and using data There are significant building blocks in place that can be utilised to develop a UK-wide data service There must be an international dimension The concept of data sharing must be embraced by researchers
Conclusions The playing field for research is international If the UK is to maintain its competitive position we need to maximise the effective use of our own research data and make sure that we are fully linked to the international data sharing net works that exist or are being developed. We need to capitalise on existing investments by the Funding and Research Councils and build a co-operative research data service that can evolve to meet future demands This will require investment in training and infrastructure and the spreading of best practice