Post from DCN Director, Mikala Narlock.*
The IASSIST 2023 Conference took place in Philadelphia from May 30-June 2 in a hybrid format. IASSIST this year was not only an incredible opportunity to meet colleagues from across the globe and hear about the amazing work they are undertaking, but also to delve into the conference theme “Diversity in Research: Social Justice from Data” as a community.
The conference planning committee took the theme to heart, and went above a traditional land acknowledgement. At the opening reception, Adam Waterbear DePaul, Chief of the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, where he serves as Tribal Storykeeper and Director of Education, spoke about the tension between data visibility and invisibility. In his discussion, Adam Waterbear DePaul described how some Indigenous communities may not have federal (US) recognition as a tribe due to a lack of ‘appropriate’ documentation and data. Considering that Indigenous communities were forcibly removed from their homes by European colonizers early in the US’s history – there were no documents created which acknowledges tribes and their ancestral homes. This lack of ‘data,’ which in a legal sense makes these communities invisible, reminded me of discussions in Data Feminism, Invisible Women, and Queer Data. In short, marginalized communities can be hypervisible or ignored depending on the data available. Communities can be over researched and amplified in potentially dangerous ways, or seemingly erased from dominant narratives. As we all know, data has immense power, and reflecting on how the data is captured, used, and for what purposes, is essential for impacting meaningful change. By placing this conversation at the opening reception, many IASSIST attendees were able to carry this with them throughout the conference.
With the exception of the keynote from Erik Larson and a fireside chat with Dr. Jackie Carter, Dr. Kirsten Thorpe, and Kathleen Weldon, (see featured speakers’ information) the conference had concurrent tracks: Partnerships and collaborations; Data management and archiving; Data documentation and reproducibility; and Data access, governance and ethics. The best and worst thing about IASSIST – there were so many interesting sessions, it was often a challenge to pick one! It is a testament to the IASSIST community and this year’s planning committee. Luckily, the presentations are slowly being added to the IASSIST 2023 Zenodo community– so check them out.
Of note, the presentation, “Finding tools for data documenting racism and the Black experience internationally and guides for searching and using data with an antiracism lens”, detailed IASSIST’s Anti-Racism Resource Guide, and provided an in-depth look at the various resources available, with suggestions for use. The amount of work invested in this guide is apparent, as this extensive guide provides information from a wide variety of sources (e.g., Government agencies, Think tanks, etc.) users can leverage, as well as a robust glossary of concepts and context. The entire guide is also presented within the context of ethics and best practices in conducting research on race. Also of note in the IASSIST Anti-Racism Resource Guide are the Essays On How Different Countries View Race, which provide key context for international resources and for cultivating broader perspectives in our work. Thanks to the presenters for sharing this resource, the authors of the guide for compiling, and the IASSIST “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Data Resources Interest Group” for helping to sustain and grow this work!
Scout Calvert from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and I presented on the efforts of the DCN Racial Justice Working Group and Education Committee to revise and re-release the CURATE(D) steps– but there were many other DCN members in attendance!
- Sophia Lafferty-Hess and Jen Darragh shared their reflections on an academic library’s role in an evolving institutional research data policy landscape.
- Joel Herndon and Alicia Hofelich Mohr reported on recent metadata evaluations in the Realities of Academic Data Sharing Initiative.
- Jon Petters described recent research into interdisciplinary and highly collaborative research projects (and, check out a related and recently published primer on the topic!)
In addition to these presentations, we met many of our colleagues, either for the first time ever or the first time in a long time, in this space. We are so grateful to everyone who made this possible, including colleagues, friends, families, and our institutions.
*Special thanks to the University of Minnesota Libraries, Department of Open Research & Publishing, for providing funding for IASSIST in person attendance.