Working Group Recommendations for an Indiana University Research Data Commons
Embargo Lift Date
Starting on April 28, 2022, our Working Group set out to make recommendations for an Indiana University Research Data Commons (IU-RDCom), a strategy to identify and meet the growing needs associated with research data at our university. Developing a way to find, access, use and share research data is an iterative process that many peer universities are also currently pursuing. The process requires a university to identify researchers’ needs, catalog services that currently exist, understand how they can be leveraged along with new investments to meet these needs, and to establish a sustainable governance structure for developing and evolving the IU-RDCom. A competitive research data infrastructure will pay for itself in many ways through new external funding while it increases our scholarly, educational and service missions. The present report outlines our recommendations to VPR for practical steps IU should pursue in the near-, medium-, and long-term. In brief, these recommendations are to:
- Establish a governing body to coordinate a research data commons.
- Task the governing body with implementing and building on our recommendations.
- Encourage IU leadership to communicate and promote IU’s strengths in research data.
- Provide short-to-medium run financial support for building a foundation for the data commons.
As stated in the charge to the Working Group (WG), the broad mission of the IU-RDCom is multifaceted: to serve as a university-wide resource for discovering, sharing, and accessing data resources across the IU community; to build on our world-class strengths in centralized cyberinfrastructure and other areas to present researchers with easier and more integrated pathways to our data resources; to enable richer training opportunities for students; and to empower IU to better serve local organizations, our state, and other partners.
With exponential recent growth in the role of data in society and in scholarship, the need for universities to engage in strategic planning to strengthen research data infrastructure has been emphasized in new reports from the American Association of Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM). NASEM committees are also presently guiding the vision for federal research data infrastructure for the 21st century for similar reasons as for academia.
From communications with research data leadership at peer institutions over the course of our work, it is amply clear that other universities are also prioritizing central-level strategies to meet these growing research data needs in academia.