UNT receives more than $800,000 in funding to investigate needs in archiving research data

Monday, August 8, 2011

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- The University of North Texas Libraries and UNT's College of Information have received more than $800,000 in grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to address the challenges of curating and preserving digital information and new requirements from the National Science Foundation and other agencies that fund university research on long-term management of research data for possible review and use by future researchers and scholars.

Dr. William Moen, associate dean for research in UNT's College of Information, and Dr. Martin Halbert, dean of the UNT Libraries, successfully applied for two grants from IMLS' Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program, which supports efforts to recruit and educate the next generation of librarians and faculty members who prepare them for future careers, as well as supporting research related to library education and staffing needs, curriculum development and continuing education and training. The 2011 Laura Bush program awarded 24 grants to libraries, organizations and universities after receiving 119 applications, and UNT was the only recipient of more than one award, which Halbert said is very unusual.

"IMLS almost never gives dual awards to the same institution and the same programs," he said. "The fact that we received two is a testament to how pleased IMLS is with UNT's reputation as a leader in digital preservation, and validates the partnership between the library and the College of Information."

The first grant of $624,663 from IMLS is for a three-year project to create four graduate-level courses in digital curation and data management. The first two courses will be taught during the summer of 2012. All four courses will be taught beginning in the summer of 2013, said Moen, the principal investigator for the grant.

The courses will make up the curriculum of a proposed Graduate Academic Certificate in Digital Curation and Data Management, which the College of Information plans to submit for approval by the spring of 2014.

While the certificate program will be aimed at library and information science professionals who need retraining in digital curation, Moen said graduate students in biological sciences, computer science, electrical engineering, environmental science, history and political science will also be recruited to enroll in one of the courses, Cyberinfrastructure Fundamentals for Digital Curation and Data Management. The students will receive stipends to take the course, Moen said.

"The idea is to give basic information about data management to students whose future jobs may have a data management requirement," he said. "Right now, the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health are the two funding agencies that are most concerned with the preservation of research data and having it available to be shared to other researchers. Data-driven research using large-scale datasets -- numeric, textual, image or audio -- allows scientists and scholars to pose and answer problems in new ways."

The second IMLS grant of $226,786 will fund a two-year investigation of the new roles, knowledge and skills that will be required of library and information science professionals to successfully manage research data cited in articles in scholarly journals -- not just the publications.

UNT researchers, led by Halbert, will conduct two national surveys of officials at NSF and other funding agencies; college and university vice presidents for research and campus research officers; faculty of library and information science programs; academic librarians; campus IT managers; provosts and chief academic officers; and key researchers at universities and publishers of faculty research. The surveys will focus on college and universities' current data management plans, policies and practices; expectations and beliefs about data management; and preparation needed to archive data.

During the two years of the project, UNT researchers will also conduct focus groups in conjunction with several professional meetings. Personal interviews will be scheduled with selected individuals from the focus groups.

"We hope to include as many high-level administrators as possible in the focus groups," said Halbert, who added that many members of Congress, including Sen. John Cornyn of Texas "believe it is critical that publically funded research is publicly available."

"This research project will lay a foundation for many new directions in library and information science education, and lead to systematic change in the field by providing documentation concerning the state of research data management planning," he said. 

Halbert and Moen applied for the grants after the National Science Foundation announced in 2010 that university faculty members and others who apply for NSF research grants must submit two-page written plans with their application that explain how data from their proposed study will be managed and archived. NSF officials say the change reflects a move to the digital age.

The UNT Libraries has been recognized as a national and international leader in developing digital content and in digital preservation. UNT Libraries are one of only three college and university libraries designated an Affiliated Archive of the National Archives. The designation recognizes UNT's creation of the nation's only CyberCemetery, which preserves defunct websites of federal agencies, including the White House.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108