Impressions from IDCC17 in Edinburgh (12th International Digital Curation Conference)

The below is a very quick summary of things that I found interesting, remarkable or funny at IDCC17. But before I start, a big thank you to Kevin Ashley and his team for organising such an interesting event with a varied programme! And thanks for all the conference pictures on Flickr!

Surgeons Hall Edinburgh, IDCC17 venue

Monday, 20 February (Workshops)

Actually a nice idea to have the conference proper sandwiched between two days of workshops which gives attendees the chance to be quite flexible with their time commitment (you need to visit Edinburgh as well while you’re there)! The location was the Surgeons’ Hall which is conveniently located for attractions in the Old Town of Edinburgh.

I went to the “Technical Appraisal of Complex Digital Objects in Evolving Environments” workshop run by the PERICLES project. PERICLES is a four-year Project  funded by the European Union which will be finished in March 2017.

Simon Waddington (King’s College)

The project has the ambitious aim not just to preserve data files, but also the surrounding environment including software, and associated hardware requirements. I enjoyed the discussions about authenticity of objects (how much can you change or convert before you “lose” the original) and identification of videos. But I have to admit that the demo of the Ecosystem tool (using a complex ontology) was a bit too much for my limited understanding. But sometimes it is good to see your limits, so thanks to the presenters from King’s College and the University of Göttingen.

Monday finished in style with a drinks reception in the wonderful Playfair Library!

Drinks reception in Playfair Library

Tuesday, 21 February (Conference)

Tuesday started with the keynote “A Process View of Missing Data” from Maria Wolters who is a Reader in Design Informatics at School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

Maria’s point is that Missing Data can improve overall data quality if we understand why data are missing!

Next up was a Parallel Session on “Curation Communities”. Marta Teperek and Rosie Higman reported on a topic that is close to my heart: engaging researchers in RDM and creating an RDM Community. The challenge our colleagues at Cambridge have is that the University “is a maze” with 150 Departments! Marta reported that the RDM approach in the past was led by the “stick approach” (e.g. pointing out compliance with data policies). This clearly has its limitations (which we also experience at Lancaster University). Instead, the support team in Cambridge is working on a more “democratic” and researcher-led process.

Marta contemplating Democracy

In the same spirit are Cambridge’s Data Champions who “are local experts on research data management and sharing who can provide advice and training within their departments.” Rosie organises training for the Data Champions so that they can in return train their peers in RDM. A great idea and I am curious to hear about the success. This is similar to the idea of Lancaster Data Conversations but more ambitious.

Rosie presenting the idea of Data champions

In the afternoon I went to the Parallel Session on Sensitive Data. Debra Hiom from the University of Bristol who gave a really interesting presentation on safe access (presentation available for download here as .pptx). Debra reported that Bristol have agreed on four standard data access level (Open, Restricted, Controlled and Closed) and have tasked an Expert Advisory Group on Data Access with handling the more sensitive cases.

Bristol data access levels

Tuesday finished with a very enjoyable Conference Dinner in The Caves which felt a bit like dining in underground club (which is exactly what The Caves are often used for).

IDCC17 Dinner at The Caves

Wednesday, 22 February

Wednesday offered more parallel sessions. I became a bit nostalgic at the talk of Alex Ball (Bath University) “Choose your own research data management guidance”. Alex and colleagues from GW4 universities are developing RDM guidance using interactive fiction software Squiffy. This is a very interesting take on RDM guidance which of course reminds of playing interactive games like The Hobbit back in the days. Really curious to see a demo hopefully soon!

Alex Ball, Bath University

Food for thought came from Jez Cope (Sheffield University) who advertised Library Carpentry (slides), a software skills training for library professionals. We have been thinking about digital skills here at Lancaster University, so a programme like Library Carpentry is very timely. Jez’ talk explained the concept of the training and we might well take part soon, so thanks for that.

Thursday, 23 February

Finally, on Thursday I participated in the workshop “Essentials 4 Data Support, the Train the Trainer”, delivered by Ellen Verbakel  (4TU.Centre for Research Data) and Marjan Grootveld (DANS). Ellen and Marjan presented the thinking behind their course (freely available here) which is a combination of face-to-face training with online modules and assignments. The training is aimed at “data supporters” (librarians, IT staff and researchers with duties involving data management).

Workshop participants

We did a number of exercises including mapping RDM stakeholders and the review of Data Management Plans.

RDM stakeholder map

It was very interesting exchanging views and experiences with international colleagues to how different legal frameworks, cultures and policies inform our work.

Then, finally IDCC was over and attendees faced storm Doris on their way home. Thanks, DCC team for an engaging, intersting and fun event!

2 thoughts on “Impressions from IDCC17 in Edinburgh (12th International Digital Curation Conference)”

  1. Hi Hardy,

    thank you very much for this nice impression of the iDCC, last month in Edinburgh.
    Marjan and I also enjoyed the engagement of all the participants at our workshop Essentials 4 Data Support, the Train the Trainer version.
    Just one remark: Marjan works at DANS and I am working at the 4TU.Centre for Researach Data.

    All the best,

    1. Hi Ellen

      Thanks for your comment. I will correct the places where Marjan and you work. Sorry for the confusion.


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