This post was authored by Shawna Taylor, Project Manager for the Realities of Academic Data Sharing initiative hosted at the Association of Research Libraries.

Earlier this month, the DCN announced the continuation of the RADS Initiative, a collaborative project between the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the DCN investigating institutional expenses for public access to research data. With new IMLS funding to continue this Initiative, phase one of this second funding cycle will continue research at three of the six original RADS institutions, and phase two will include working with five non-DCN institutions and bringing them into the DCN for two years at no cost.

The University at Buffalo Libraries, led by co-PI Jake Carslon, will now join RADS for phase one of this new cycle. Although the University at Buffalo (UB) was not an original RADS institution, we are excited that Jake and UB can join the Initiative, as this partnership will benefit the RADS research goals and the UB Libraries. Jake’s initial participation in RADS with the University of Michigan means he brings knowledge of the RADS methodology to UB, and we have an opportunity to test our methodology in a new environment before bringing in new institutions. Jake will also use RADS as an opportunity to gain a nuanced understanding of the research data management and sharing services and activities across campus at UB. Jake expands on these points in the interview below. 

Shawna: Jake, as the new Associate University Librarian for Research, Collections and Outreach at the University at Buffalo Libraries, can you tell us why you think participating in RADS will benefit UB? 

Jake: Absolutely. So like many universities, the University at Buffalo is grappling with the data sharing requirements that have been implemented by the National Institutes of Health and other federal granting agencies. We are a little behind as we only recently hired a Data Services Librarian to explore what is needed at UB. Participating in the RADS project will help us learn more about the impact that these data sharing requirements are having on research and administrative practices directly. We can then apply what we learn to further develop our libraries capabilities in this space and to make the connections with other stakeholders on campus that we will need to be successful.        

Shawna: You have a lot of experience running an institutional data repository, in understanding the complexities and value of data curation, and in collaborating with partners across the institution to gain a high-level understanding of the research data management environment; how will the new insights gained from this project support the libraries at UB in understanding expenses and in developing partnerships to support research?

Jake: Over the years libraries have done a lot to understand the data management practices of researchers, but we have not asked as much about the more indirect implications of data management, such as costing decisions or the demands on staff time. The RADS project fills in this gap in our understanding for researchers and recognizes that administrators across campus are impacted by these requirements as well. We know that more institutional investment is needed if the data sharing requirements are to have their desired effect. What we have not known is where specifically those investments are most needed. What is really exciting about the RADS project is that it will give the UB Libraries and administration the evidence we need to make the best use of our resources.  

Shawna: UB is a bit of an outlier in our project – UB is not currently a member of the DCN, but as a founding individual member and key project personnel in the first NSF-funded cycle of RADS, how do you see this informal collaboration between UB and the DCN impacting one another?

Jake: The DCN was started back in 2016 as an attempt by the six original members to figure out a path forward in developing and operating our institutional data repositories and our associated data services. We learned so much from working together and so looking back, I don’t believe that any one of us would have had near the success that we have had individually if we had not formed the DCN. The community-based approach of the DCN has proven to be critically important and the DCN has recognized the need to expand who is a part of its community over time. 

The University at Buffalo is an R1 institution, but it has roughly a quarter of the research funding that my previous institution, the University of Michigan, has had on an annual basis. And so I actually think it’s the University of Michigan that is a bit of an outlier as a research institution, not UB. I think UB is more representative of the situation that many other R1 institutions find themselves in in responding to data sharing mandates. Including UB in the RADS project allows us to see where there are similarities across all participating institutions and where there may be differences based on available research funding or other factors. Our participation can also help the DCN consider how it could extend its community to include schools like the University at Buffalo.       

Shawna: On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you to continue collaborating with the DCN ? 🙂

Jake: At least an 11, if not higher! DCN members have always been a joy to work with. I could not ask for better research partners and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to continue what we started with the first RADS project.

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