The roles of data in publishing and scholarship; musing on research attribution

purpleDataImgA few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to listen in on portions of the ORCID/Dryad symposium on research attribution being held in Oxford. Something that really stood out for me was David Deroure‘s description of the future of scholarship as “an ecosystem of interacting scholarly social machines” where the case can be made that social tech like Twitter becomes an “infrastructure and every hash tag is a social machine” for scholarship. What an exciting time to be involved in developing/contributing to this new ecosystem.

When it comes to data citation/altmetric tracking and attribution, there are so many things that still have to be hashed out. Christine Borgman, who serves on the CODATA-ICSTI task group on data citation standards and practices, pointed out that we already have a broken model for citation metrics just for article publication, let alone coming up with standards that include data, software and other less traditional forms of scholarly output. She posed so many questions that quickly need to have answers, including how the many contributors involved in data often want attribution, but which of those roles deserve it and the responsibility/accountability that comes with it (either social or legal)? Publication of these nontraditional outputs will help with both attribution and accountability, but will also create a whole new set of problems, questions, and needs for standardization.  It’ll also be interesting to see where the library/librarian’s role in assisting with the curation of data falls with regard to questions of attribution…

Why we cite will also drive the shape of this evolving model, particularly decisions about whether more emphasis will be placed on creating mechanisms for linking, discovery of and REUSE (including the transformation of data as it is reused) of these outputs than on the idea of simply giving credit.  I’m hoping it’s more the former than the latter, though I completely understand the importance and need for attribution.

This summer, I and some of my colleagues on campus are dedicating a bit of time to explore this ecosystem and the future that SUNY Geneseo might have in it.  I have no doubt that it will be an interesting process.

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