Data management can seem daunting, especially when working with a granting body or laboratory that has stringent requirements for documentation, management, and accessibility. At Professor Furlong’s Comparative Cognition Lab at Illinois Wesleyan University, the University’s IR, Digital Commons@IWU, has become a critical part of the research process in successfully attaining these goals. With the help of IR Manager and Liaison Librarian Stephanie Davis-Kahl, Professor Furlong and her students are finding it “incredibly easy” to share and manage the Lab’s data.
In the Digital Commons community webinar, “Data Management and the IR as a Teaching Tool at Illinois Wesleyan,” Professor Ellen Furlong and her student, Stephanie AuBuchon, outlined their data needs: easy uploading of data, searching large amounts of data efficiently, storing and sharing data output of the Lab, and managing a large amount of videos. Professor Furlong worked closely with Stephanie Davis-Kahl and bepress to design their site. With a highly customizable upload form they were able to produce exactly what was needed. Additionally, they found that “Digital Commons was the best solution because it allowed for the large amount of data as well as the necessary student access to the data.”
On managing data in Digital Commons, Professor Furlong said “It will be so incredibly easy to share, to give [researchers and students] access to the IR”—this had previously been a big challenge. It is important for the Lab to make the data accessible to certified researchers, while still making it access controlled due to data privacy issues. It is also crucial to the project’s success that students be able to access and code the data from remote locations and work independently.
Professor Furlong points out that the students can take this valuable experience into their future careers. Her student and co-presenter, Stephanie AuBuchon, said that although she is not tech-savvy, she found the experience of uploading and managing the data in Digital Commons to be “super quick, super easy, and super organized.”
One aspect of sharing data openly in her field, Comparative Psychology, is to mark the data as credible and post the results for replication. With SEO built into the IR, the Lab’s site is globally visible and provides context for the data housed there. Part of the context is a coding teaching tool to help others replicate the research, and a newsletter and related research papers, as well as the introductory text for the site.
Davis-Kahl presented this webinar as a useful case study for librarians working with faculty and students on data, focusing on data services at Ames Library which encompass student pedagogy, infrastructure, and information literacy. Check out the webinar for more detailed data management tips!