OstData - Research Data Service for Russian, East and Southeast European Studies: profile, objectives and project description

 

Country and cross-disciplinary profile:

OstData supports the publication of research data on the following countries:

Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus (Greek), Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Modern Greece, Moldavia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine


The multi- and interdisciplinary research on the regions East and Southeast Europe as well as Russia is conducted within humanities and social sciences, especially by the following disciplines:

  • Archaeology
  • Economics
  • Ethnology/Anthropology
  • Historical Sciences
  • Linguistics and Literature
  • Political Science
  • Sociology

 

Goals of OstData:

  • Enable publication and archiving of research data by providing a reliable infrastructure and the necessary incentives
  • Creation of an accessible, user-friendly, and structured search interface for research data originating from Germany
  • Develop ametadata schema for the description of research data, thus enabling search & re-use of these
  • Build-up of expertise in all relevant areas of research data management (e.g. quality assurance and legal issues)
  • Deliver consulting services and support on research data management
  • Engage in diffusion of skills and knowledge on research data management
  • Foster networking of national and international actors (research communities, research policy, funders, etc.)

 

Funding line:

  • "Information Infrastructures for Research Data" in the field of "Scientific Library Services and Information Systems (LIS)" of the "German Research Foundation" (DFG)

 

Term:

  • three plus three years, funding phase I: 1.1.2019 to 31.12.2021

Work packages and implementation:

OstData faces the challenge to aggregate and make research data findable and available that is generated at locations distributed throughout Germany and under strongly divergent institutional conditions. OstData will therefore be realized as a network-like infrastructure, based on centralised and decentralised models of data storage and archiving. Accordingly, concepts and strategies for various constellations as well as the corresponding technical solutions must be found and applied in the context of the respective institutional conditions. Essentially, three models are covered: a) Research institutions that do not wish or are not able to build up their own infrastructure for research data and individual researchers will be able to submit their research data, prepared ready for publication, to the BSB; b) If institutions decide to store their research data in their own repositories, the corresponding metadata will be included in the search index of OstData together with additional information such as (shadow) full texts in order to enable easy retrieval; c) If research institutions decide to store their research data in repositories of universities and other state libraries or interdisciplinary research data services such as RADAR or ZENODO, the data are also archived there on a long-term basis. As in model b), the metadata is registered in the OstData search index.

The search for and use of research data is becoming an equal and self-evident part of literature research. Accordingly, OstData will be integrated as a separate data source into the existing literature research of osmikon. Moreover, OstData will have its own search interface within osmikon, which will pay attention to the special character of research data and the possibilities offered by detailed metadata, like facet navigation or geographical, temporal, format and source-specific search options.

The description of research data with metadata is fundamental for their (re-)use. Metadata records technical, administrative and legal information such as file size, access rights and content descriptions. Metadata ensure that research data can be searched in OstData and be reused via data import and export interfaces. Since different disciplines in Russian, East and Southeast European Studies generate research data using different methodological approaches (for example, qualitative or quantitative), OstData must take this diversity into account. The OstData metadata schema will therefore build upon established and currently developing metadata schemata from different disciplines. The FAIR Data Principles (research data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) are fundamental for the development of the OstData metadata schema. It will use the Integrated Authority File (GND) for verbal indexing. Additionally, disciplinary thesauri and multilingual free keywords can also be used. Furthermore, a common classification system (adapted version of the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC)) will be used for subject indexing.

For the selection, transfer and archiving of research data, quality criteria with regard to content, form and technical aspects will be applied by OstData: What criteria must content of research data fulfil, what administrative procedures must be followed, in what formats are they to be stored in the repository and how can technically flawless storage and archiving be ensured? The necessary requirements are developed in consultation with the relevant expert community.

Research data accumulates wherever research is carried out. Obviously, this was already the case in pre- and early digital times. Over the years, large amounts of analogue data from research projects at research institutes have been preserved in their archives, or have been stored in file formats and applications that are difficult to use today. Parallel to the quality-standardised research data management that is being developed, and in view of the large amount of data waiting to be (re)discovered or saved, prototypical tests will therefore be carried out to determine how existing data from completed projects can be processed into publishable research data, and what steps are necessary for this (clarification of rights, anonymisation of sensitive data, data conversion, etc.).

Legal obstacles and legal issues such as the lack of rights to use and publish interview data, data protection or research ethics can stand in the way of publishing and re-using valuable research data.  Successful research data management therefore requires recommendations for the community of German Russian, East and Southeast European Studies. With the help of OstData, these recommendations will be made freely available to the relevant individuals and institutions and contain information on legal problems in research data management. This includes information on aspects of copyright, exploitation and personal rights as well as questions of legal liability and legal disclaimer. The implications of copyright and data protection for data conversion, processing and archiving must also be considered.

In the coming years, the importance of research data management will continue to grow. Individual departments and smaller institutes will be increasingly encouraged to publish research data, although without having the capacities and resources to deal with the topic in detail. In order to support the community of Russian, East and Southeast European Studies in Germany in implementing research data management at their individual institutions, guides and recommendations for institutional data management strategies are to be developed. A further focus will be on the acquisition of research data: In the field of Bohemistics we will test how to deal with reservations, resistance or lack of knowledge of many researchers when it comes to their research data and its publication.

OstData's public relations work is aimed on the one hand at scientific institutions and individual researchers who are to be motivated to publish their research data, and on the other hand at scholars for whom these data represent valuable sources and will distribute the results of the work packages.