Headshot of NISO Managing Director, Todd Carpenter

September 2010

The issues with research data continue to pose challenges for researchers, librarians, and publishers alike. The management of data, ensuring its interoperability and its preservation are all challenging issues that will be the focus of work from a variety of perspectives in our community and most scientific communities throughout the coming months and years.

NISO's August webinar Show Me the Data: Managing Data Sets for Scholarly Content discussed this topic from three perspectives: metadata, citation, and discovery services. A recording of the webinar is available to registrants or those who purchase the archive, but the slides of those presentations are freely available.

This issue of Newsline highlights two perspectives on the issue of research data. The first is from the library community, where Dorothea Salo in her paper in Ariadne argues that while many see research data as the new "special collections," it is imperative that libraries develop and enhance their systems to handle these materials with a clear understanding of the special characteristics of research data and the processes that create the data. Phil Davis provides the second perspective in his post on the SSP Scholarly Kitchen blog entitled Ending the Supplemental Data Arms Race about the Journal of Neuroscience publisher's decision to cease accepting supplemental materials for articles published in the journal. What is interesting is that these two approaches are in fact arguing for the same thing: community-based systems for managing scholarly data output that are specialized to the task. There is certainly a perceived value in maintaining and sharing this information, but some publishers simply don't see it as their role. The new Journal of Neuroscience policy states that:

When articles are published, authors will be allowed to include a footnote with a URL that points to supplemental material on a site they support and maintain, together with a brief description of what the supplemental material includes, but that supplemental material will not be reviewed or hosted by The Journal.

Earlier this summer, NISO in partnership with NFAIS launched a joint project on Supplemental Journal Article Materials, which will develop recommended practices for managing these materials. Visit the working group's webpage for more information. You can also sign up to get updates and provide feedback to the group.

Attending to the needs for access to information that supplements journal articles will serve the scientific process and could provide a new invigorated service model for libraries, publishers, or both. The biggest challenge for both communities will be to do so in a way that serves the particular requirements of data management on this scale. Community best practices and standards are two ways to make the process more efficient and scalable.

Todd Carpenter’s Signature

Todd Carpenter

Managing Director

NISO Reports

Two Part September Webinar on Library Performance Metrics – Get the Latest on Measuring Use, Assessing Success

NISO's September webinar is in two-parts on September 8 and 15 (at 1:-00-2:30 p.m. eastern time) and focuses on Measuring Use, Assessing Success. Although related, each part is independent so you can attend either webinar or both. If you register for both events at the same time, you will receive a 20% discount.

September 8, Part 1: Measure, Assess, Improve, Repeat: Using Library Performance Metrics
Practitioners of evidence-based librarianship will discuss and demonstrate evaluations of library collections and services using a variety of performance metrics.

Speakers for Part 1 are Steve Hiller (Director, Assessment and Planning, University of Washington Libraries) and Martha Kyrillidou (Senior Director, Statistics and Service Quality Programs, ARL).

September 15, Part 2: Count Me In: Measuring Individual Item Usage
Libraries' growing awareness of performance measures has created an increased interest in and desire for fine-grained usage data. Now that electronic versions of books, journals, and other media inhabit a much greater percentage of many libraries' collections, usage data about individual book chapters, journal articles, sound recordings, motion picture scenes, etc. is within reach.

Speakers are: Peter Shepherd (Project Director, Project COUNTER) who will provide an update on PIRUS2 that is developing practical standards for recording and reporting online usage at the individual article level; and Johan Bollen (Associate Professor in the School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, who will discuss applying usage metrics to assess scholarly content quality.

For more information or to register, visit the event webpage. This webinar is sponsored by PubGet.

October Webinar: It's Only as Good as the Metadata: Improving OpenURL and Knowledgebase Quality

NISO's October webinar will focus on the work of two NISO working groups in Improving OpenURL and Knowledgebase Quality.

Elizabeth Winter (Georgia Tech Library) will discuss the work of the IOTA (Improving OpenURLs Through Analytics) Working Group that is investigating the creation of industry-wide and scalable metrics for evaluating the quality of OpenURL links. Adam Chandler who began this work at Cornell University will join Elizabeth during the Q&A.

Sarah Pearson (University of Birmingham) will review the work of the joint NISO/UKSG KBART (Knowledge Bases and Related Tools) Working Group including their Phase 1 Recommended Practice (RP) that was issued earlier this year, the link resolver and content providers who have endorsed the RP, and the Phase 2 work that is underway.

Maria Stanton (Serials Solutions) will pull it all together by giving a perspective on the real-world challenges of working with OpenURLs and improving knowledgebase quality.

For more information or to register, visit the event webpage.

E-Resource Management Forum – October 7 in Chicago

NISO will be holding an in-person forum on E-Resource Management: From Start to Finish (and Back Again) on October 7, 2010, in Chicago, IL. The "start to finish and back again" of this event will take attendees through the various stages of working with an active ERM in your library. Following a keynote presentation by Norm Medeiros (Haverford College) on the value that ERM systems bring to libraries, the speakers will cover:

  • The Start – The basics of a successful ERM implementation/use from integrating ERM with print holdings to using the ERM for managing content, budgeting, and reporting.

  • The Finish – At a higher-level, the more advanced and downstream uses made capable by ERMs including using the ERM to interpret data and to inform staffing decisions or collection management.

  • Back Again – Those things that still aren't in place, that we will need to implement anew in order to answer outstanding needs, such as e-books in ERMs and the next steps that are being determined by the NISO ERM Gap Analysis Working Group.

This event will benefit anyone who is interested in using an ERM for managing content and for interpreting data and making decisions based on that data. NISO educational forums are routinely praised for their excellent selection of speakers representing a diversity of viewpoints across the scholarly information community and the small size which provides opportunities to network with speakers and other attendees.

A complete agenda, registration, and hotel information are available on the event webpage. Get the early bird discount by registering before September 24. NISO members, Committee on Institutional Cooperation members, and students receive a discounted rate.

The Committee on Institutional Cooperation is sponsoring this forum and CrossRef is the corporate sponsor.

Cost of Resource Exchange (CORE) Protocol Published as a NISO Recommended Practice

NISO's latest Recommended Practice is Cost of Resource Exchange (CORE) Protocol (NISO RP-10-2010). This Recommended Practice defines an XML schema to facilitate the exchange of financial information related to the acquisition of library resources between systems, such as an ILS and an ERMS.

CORE identifies a compact yet useful structure for query and delivery of relevant acquisitions data. "Sharing acquisitions information between systems has always been a difficult problem," said Ted Koppel, AGent Verso (ILS) Product Manager, Auto-Graphics, Inc. and co-chair of the CORE Working Group. "The rise of ERM systems made this problem even more acute. I'm glad that we, through the CORE Recommended Practice, have created a mechanism for data sharing, reuse, and delivery." Co-chair Ed Riding, Catalog Program Manager at the LDS Church History Library, added, "The CORE Recommended Practice provides a solution for libraries attempting to avoid duplicate entry and for systems developers intent on not reinventing the wheel. I look forward to the development of systems that can easily pull cost information from one another and believe CORE can help facilitate that."

CORE was originally intended for publication as a NISO standard. However, following a draft period of trial use that ended March 2010, the CORE Working Group and NISO's Business Information Topic Committee voted to approve the document as a Recommended Practice. This decision was in part based on the lack of uptake during the trial period as a result of recent economic conditions, and was motivated by the high interest in having CORE available for both current and future development as demand for the exchange of cost information increases. Making the CORE protocol available as a Recommended Practice allows ILS and ERM vendors, subscription agents, open-source providers, and other system developers to now implement the XML framework for exchanging cost information between systems.

A standing committee has been created to monitor the uptake of the Recommended Practice, provide support and outreach on the protocol, and conduct an annual review of the document with the aim of making future recommendation for re-release as a standard publication. Anyone interested in implementing the CORE Recommended Practice, joining the standing committee, or in receiving additional information should contact NISO.

For more information, visit the CORE webpage.

NISO, IU Receive Mellon Grant to Advance Tools for Quantifying Scholarly Impact from Large-scale Usage Data

A $349,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Indiana University Bloomington will fund research to develop a sustainable initiative to create metrics for assessing scholarly impact from large-scale usage data.

IU Bloomington School of Informatics and Computing associate professor Johan Bollen and the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) will share the Mellon Foundation grant designed to build upon the MEtrics from Scholarly Usage of Resources (MESUR) project that Bollen began in 2006 with earlier support from the foundation.

The new funding for Developing a Generalized and Sustainable Framework for a Public, Open, Scholarly Assessment Service Based on Aggregated Large-scale Usage Data, will support the evolution of the MESUR project to a community-supported, sustainable scholarly assessment framework. MESUR has already created a database of more than 1 billion usage events with related bibliographic, citation, and usage data for scholarly content.

Read the full press release.

Call for Participants for NISO's Topic Committees

Are you interested in taking a leadership role in standards development? Do you want to help NISO and its members identify areas where standards work needs to be done and provide direction to NISO standards development? Help set goals for our future and provide guidance and oversight to current NISO work by joining one of our three Topic Committees:

  • Business Information – Issues regarding the management structure surrounding the acquisition, licensing, purchasing, and analysis of information

  • Content and Collection Management – Issues regarding developing, describing, providing access to, and maintaining content items and collections

  • Discovery to Delivery – Issues regarding the finding and distribution of information by and to users, including OpenURL, knowledgebases, interface design, web services, etc.

Committee members serve staggered three-year terms (term lengths are negotiable). Members join in monthly conference calls to discuss potential areas for development and ongoing work within the topic area, to give guidance on approved NISO standards and their maintenance, to identify specific outcomes and charges for working groups, and to participate in committee projects. Topic Committee members have the opportunity to shape the future of standards development and give real leadership to the organization.

For more information visit the Topic Committees webpage. If you would like to join a committee, please contact NISO.

New on the NISO Website

New Specs & Standards

ANSI/ARMA 5-2010, Vital Records Programs: Identifying, Managing, and Recovering Business-Critical Records

This revision of the 2003 edition updates and expands the standard to more accurately reflect, among other considerations, business continuity-related planning needs. And, reflecting the vital records realities made apparent as a result of Hurricane Katrina, new and updated contents include a section on developing, implementing, and monitoring a records loss prevention plan, new information around protecting electronic data, and an annex comparing drying techniques for water-damaged books and records.

ISO/IEC 19763-3:2010, Information technology – Metamodel framework for interoperability (MFI) – Part 3: Metamodel for ontology registration

This revision specifies a metamodel that provides a facility to register administrative and evolution information related to ontologies, independent of the languages in which they are expressed. A registry that conforms to ISO/IEC 19763-3:2010, together with repositories that contain actual ontologies, makes it possible for users to gain the benefits of interoperation among application systems based on ontologies.

ISO/IEC 24791-1:2010, Information technology – Radio frequency identification (RFID) for item management – Software system infrastructure – Part 1: Architecture

This new standard defines a software system infrastructure that enables radio frequency identification (RFID) system operations between business applications and RFID interrogators. RFID software systems are composed of RFID interrogators, intermediate software systems, and applications that provide control and coordination of air interface operation, tag, and sensor information exchange, and health and performance management of system components.

Media Stories

Measuring E-Resource Use: Standards and Practice for Counting Remote Users
American Libraries, 08/23/2010; By Rachel A. Flemming-May and Jill E. Grogg

Librarians have regularly collected and evaluated usage data on their resources. Now they are wrestling with gathering and understanding data related to remote usage of electronic resources. A number of standards and initiatives have been developed to assist in this process. COUNTER began in 2002 to define how journal and database usage should be counted and reported in a standardized way. That organization is now involved in the Publisher and Institutional Repository Usage Statistics (PIRUS2) initiative that is developing standards and processes for usage data at the individual article level. The Standardized Usage Statistics Harvesting Initiative (SUSHI) standard, ANSI/NISO Z39.93, automates the process of collecting COUNTER data from hundreds of vendors in a consistent XML format. SUSHI is an example of how collaboration among all the stakeholders—libraries, publishers, subscription agents, and system vendors—can result in a "simple yet extensible standard that has the potential to drastically reduce the amount of manual effort required to collect usage statistics from various sources." (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: Peter Shepherd from COUNTER will be discussing the PIRUS2 project at NISO's September 15 webinar. The SUSHI standard and supporting implementation guidance is available from the SUSHI webpage. The authors of this article (Fleming and Grogg) have also authored the most recent Library Technology Reports on The Concept of Electronic Resource Usage and Libraries that provides more information on COUNTER, SUSHI, and other approaches to e-resources usage collection and evaluation.

If I Were a Scholarly Publisher
EDUCAUSE Review, v.45, no.4, July/August 20101; by Rick Anderson

With library budgets either staying flat or even decreasing, librarians are taking a new approach to collection development that is more patron-driven and will result in less book and journal buying. This places scholarly publishers, who have traditionally depended on libraries for sales, in a precarious position. The author, putting himself in the publishers' shoes concludes they have four options: 1) Be satisfied with flat growth, or even moderate declines in profitability. 2) Continue seeking vigorous growth in the library market. 3) Find a way around libraries into the scholarly marketplace. 4) Provide an information service other than traditional publishing. Of those options, the fourth is the one that offers the most potential. Tools and services like Web of Science, Scopus, ISI impact factor, and the Eigenfactor are successful examples. Libraries should be concerned about publishers taking the third option and attractively pricing products for individual users. However, transitioning to a title-by-title pricing model for faculty and students would not be painless or cost-free for publishers. Nonetheless, the realities of the situation are such that both libraries and scholarly publishers need to begin to seriously change and adapt their current modes of operation. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: For another view on this topic see the Social Science Research Network Working Paper, Is the Sky Falling on the Content Industries, which also proposes ways content providers can find success in the new digital environment. NISO members mentioned in the above article are: Elsevier and Thomson Reuters.

Retooling Libraries for the Data Challenge
Ariadne, July 2010; by Dorothea Salo

Libraries appear to be well-positioned with their technology infrastructure and institutional repositories to provide support for digital research data, but need a better understanding of the special characteristics of scientific data and the scientific process to effectively meet the data challenge. Small volumes of data could present more difficulties than large volumes, because there are many more instances of data to be managed, each with its own distinct characteristics and separate group of scientists and departments involved. Research data has a much larger variability in types and formats than most library e-resources and often requires special tools and software for interaction with the data. Aside from the issue of a large backlog of potentially disorganized digital data with little or no accompanying metadata, some useful data may still be in analog format, e.g. the long-used laboratory notebook. The project orientation of data created with grant-type funding does not lend itself to good stewardship of data after the project has ended and the funds are used up. Although some scientific disciplines have standards regarding data formats, many do not resulting in a "Tower of Babel." Library processes for careful digitization and preservation are too costly for the large volume of research data and filtering out only the acceptable data will likely alienate researchers whose data isn't chosen. Institutional repositories are optimized for handling journal articles or book chapters and require unchangeable information, while research data may continue to change. Manual ingest processes and limited metadata elements sets, like Dublin Core, are additional issues. Ways forward include: flexible storage and metadata architectures; de-coupling ingest, storage, and use; providing APIs and plugins; versioning and de-accessioning processes; increased standardization and use of linked data; and new staffing and funding models. (Link to Web Source)

Ending the Supplemental Data "Arms Race"
The Scholarly Kitchen [blog], Aug 16, 2010; by Philip Davis

The Society for Neuroscience has announced that they will no longer accept or host supplemental data for journal articles. Their reasons were not those of space or cost, as one might expect, but instead based on scientific integrity related to peer review. Supplemental data does not receive the same rigor in reviews as the article and requires time that reviewers don't have. Knowing that publishers will host supporting data may encourage reviewers to ask for further (or even new) data from authors, adding to the authors' work and delaying the article's publication. Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, John Maunsell, describes these changing expectations on the part of both authors and reviewers as "a supplemental materials arms race." He sees no alternative to fix the problem except refusing to accept supplemental materials after seven years of doing so. This decision directly contradicts other initiatives in making data more available such as Open Notebook Science, Science Commons, and others. Those initiatives, however, may be ignoring that access by itself is not sufficient. Readers want to know that some filter or verification process has occurred, which is exactly the issue that Journal of Neuroscience is recognizing. (Link to Web Source)

NISO Note: NISO's newest working group on Supplemental Journal Article Materials is looking at issues such as those discussed in the above blog article as they develop recommended practices for handling of these materials. To sign up for the interest group e-mail list for this working group send an e-mail to suppinfo-susbscribe@list.niso.org.

Calculating the ROI of Semantic Enrichment
TaxoDiary [blog], August 23, 2010, by Bert Carelli

Calculating return on investment for a taxonomy can vary from one organization to another but in general the improved findability from using a taxonomy will add value to the content assets, save time (that equals money), and reduce rework. For content providers, a taxonomy can increase revenue through increases in subscriptions, website use, or more memberships. Google and other referring sites are driving users directly to the article or other document bypassing the organization's homepage and navigation. This makes a taxonomy even more important as every "hit" needs to be a good match or the user moves on to another website. Taxonomies can also be used to further engage users with "more like this" links based on search terms matched to taxonomy terms. This is a very cost-effective way to increase usage, gain visibility, and ultimately improve revenues. (Link to Web Source)