This post, by RADS Project Manager Shawna Taylor, provides an update on their recent in-person meeting. Stay up to date with the RADS project at the ARL project page.


In April 2022, the Realities of Academic Data Sharing (RADS) Initiative project team met in-person at the offices of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). While this project is led by ARL, the Data Curation Network (DCN) plays a critical role in ensuring the success and applicability of the research and any project outcomes. As a collaborative network with an extensive history of conducting research through a distributed model (e.g., Value of Curation and End User Satisfaction Survey), the DCN was a natural partner for ARL in undertaking this endeavor.

The RADS research team is made up entirely of DCN members:

  • Cynthia Hudson Vitale, Association of Research Libraries
  • Jake Carlson, University of Michigan
  • Joel Herndon, Duke University
  • Alicia Hofelich Mohr, University of Minnesota
  • Wendy Kozlowski, Cornell University
  • Jennifer Moore, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Jonathan Petters, Virginia Tech

The group would like to give a special thanks to Lisa Johnston, University of Wisconsin-Madison, formerly University of Minnesota, for her work to-date on RADS; she was certainly missed during our in-person discussions!

Project Challenges

In order to understand the institutional costs of academic data sharing and assess how and why funded researchers are sharing their data, this multi-pronged project requires project investigators to develop a broad snapshot of activities, services, staffing, and available infrastructure at their academic institution. In addition, a more granular level analysis is needed, which is sensitive to the ground level realities of research data sharing of funded researchers. When approaching analysis at a broader scale, specific activities, services, or infrastructure essential to the realities of academic data sharing at each institution have the potential to be glossed over or missed entirely.

From left to right: Cynthia Hudson Vitale, Alicia Hofelich Mohr, Lizhao Ge, and Wendy Kozlwoski.

Considering analysis of broad institution-wide services and infrastructure is required, as well as a nuanced assessment of individual researcher activities, it is no surprise the team had a brief period of dialog and deliberation about how to move forward in the project. Questions such as, ‘What do we really mean by public access?’, ‘How do we define sharing?’, and ‘How can we effectively classify activities into different buckets that are understandable to and useful for broadening conceptual understanding for a wide range of stakeholders?’ were big picture questions that shaped the project moving forward. Essentially, the core of these questions rested on the convergence of the broad understanding of campus-wide activities that enable public access to research data with researchers’ day-to-day activities to do the same. One of the key areas of concern was how to factor in data sharing activities and infrastructure that may not be readily apparent to research participants.

In response to this concern, the project team had to lean on what they did know about data sharing. We relied on our strongest asset – the extensive experience and established community of the research team members, and the ability to engage with additional expertise of the DCN. By design, the RADS Initiative includes seven research team members who are also DCN members (listed above). The DCN engages with issues around data curation, making data and metadata FAIR, and managing and understanding the research data lifecycle. RADS leans on DCN members’ pool of expertise to explore data sharing activities and infrastructure required for data sharing.

A push was needed, not just in terms of project goals and timeline, but to reaffirm the community of practice and enhance individuals’ connections to that community.  In-person discussions, specifically around conceptual questions which impact the entire project, allowed free conversation, dialog and healthy disagreements. This mode of communication, as we all know, cannot always be replicated in an online environment. Meeting in-person was the impetus needed to reaffirm the community of practice within RADS, and change perspectives to work through challenging project points.

From left to right: Joel Herndon, Jake Carlson, Cynthia Hudson Vitale, Jonathan Petters, Alicia Hofelich Mohr, Wendy Kozlowski, and Jennifer Moore.

To learn more about RADS’ recent work, read our six month project update

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