Researchers get first taste of new data management system

28 June 2012

Data management has become a major component of all research projects. This is because new technologies allow much faster and much more extensive data collection. A major challenge is to make this data sitting on researcher's computer visible and available in the public domain.

The Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, together with the School of Biological Sciences and ICT has been working on a data management system that integrates the University research data storage with the Australian National Data Storage (ANDS).

On 13 June, researchers in the Faculty had their first taste of the system and their reactions were enthusiastic. A/Prof Willem Vervoort, who has acted as the main stakeholder for the Faculty, says: "This is a major step for the Faculty. It will allow harvesting of all older data as well as having a integrated system for new data that will keep our data safe and visible". "The most exciting bit is that we can now see much easier where all the data in the Faculty is. This will greatly improve our ability to collaborate".

Some of the researchers participating in the training day of the data management system
Some of the researchers participating in the training day of the data management system

The new Agriculture and Environmental data store allows searching across different research projects and research groups as well as advertising the Faculty's data in ANDS.

Making individual researcher's data visible and "discoverable" means using consistent terminology as well as developing meta-data schema to describe the content of the data. In simpler words, the meta-data can be seen as the blurb on the cover of a book. This is important for other people to understand the scope and timeframe of the data as well as collection methods and access.

Another important feature of the data store is the ability to manage data more effectively within research groups. This means that data can be shared easily, while still keeping consistency across data sets within a research project.

Integration of the data with ANDS will increase the opportunities for collaboration within the Faculty and across institutions as more people can be aware of the data that is being collected and the output that is generated from this data.

The web based data store, which was funded through ANDS was developed by Intersect, a cooperative organisation between state government and universities that develops research IT infrastructure.

One of the more exciting features of the data store is the integration with an on-line open source statistical and programming package (R-Studio). This allows analysis of data in the data store from any computer with internet access.

Contact: A/Prof Willem Vervoort

Phone: 02 8627 1054

Email: 150a0543572c601315333e20264a06373b114f0c565248222745640c22