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Informium

Many areas at Bielefeld University already perform outstanding research data management. The mid-term goal is to offer institutional services such as archiving services and tools for collaboration and dedicated research environments to all areas of the university. Due to the complex requirements and the heterogeneous work methods in individual disciplines, the development of such services is only just beginning (see also context).

In the first phase (to 2013), the pilot project Informium has been developing advisory and publication services which have been officially approved for use at the university. The ‘Fokusgruppe Forschungsdaten’ facilitates knowledge exchange on the development in the individual research areas, such as CITEC, IKG, and CeBiTec. This group is open to all interested research data specialists at Bielefeld University. In addition, current topics are presented in the Wissensinfrastruktur colloquium.

At the beginning of the project, Informium focused on data in the social sciences. For example, services were set up for the Data Service Center for Business and Organizational Data (DSZ-BO) (funded by the BMBF) and the SFB 882 ‘From Heterogeneities to Inequalities’ (funded by the DFG).

DSZ-BO - Data Service Center for Business and Organizational Data

This project is developing services for sociological microdata. Microdata are primary or raw data gathered through data collections, tests, or surveys carried out in studies in the social sciences. One of the goals of the initiative is to build up a research data archive that will ensure the long-term availability of these datasets and make them accessible for academic use (e.g. secondary analyses). Data standards for empirical social research such as DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) permit the direct exchange of studies between researchers or institutions. This will make it possible to use existing datasets when carrying out future studies on new research questions so that painstakingly and expensively gathered data can be used repeatedly in alternative secondary analyses. Even though the DSZ-BO focuses specifically on certain types of data within the social sciences, the concepts, technologies, and forms of cooperation developed here can also be transferred to other domains in the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences.

Further information is available online at: https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/(en)/soz/fdzbo/

SFB 882 – Project INF (Information and Data Infrastructure)

By setting up and administering a virtual research environment, this project takes on key service functions in the domain of data and information infrastructure. It will devise and implement standards of documentation for the data generated, develop anonymization concepts for data archiving, and provide advice on methodology. The project aims to construct a virtual research environment composed of three elements:

  1. A conventional working platform provides the necessary IT resources for individual projects and for the Collaborative Research Center as a whole. This working platform offers effective support for research in the social sciences by bringing together various tools for daily work (e.g. storage and administration of documents and publications) and administration (e.g. project management, collaborative documentation and exchange of knowledge, appointment calendars, forum, blogs, etc.) in a single information infrastructure adapted to the specific needs of the projects and the working methods of the researchers.
     
  2. A research data platform constitutes an innovative aspect of the project. It combines elements of research data management with the further development of social science methodology. The platform provides services for archiving and subsequently using datasets and is responsible for coordinating the infrastructure and methods of data documentation. The entire data lifecycle – from the conceptualization of the project to the analysis and archiving of data – is documented by implementing and applying the metadata standard DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) 3.x in all participating projects.
     
  3. An interface module manages the external links to existing information resources (e.g. SOEP, the Federal Employment Agency, the Data Service Center for Business and Organizational Data at the University of Bielefeld) and other tools for exchanging data. For example, a smoothly running data exchange between heterogeneous information resources requires a variety of transformation functions to standardize terminologies (e.g. DDI elements) and data formats (e.g. output of diverse statistic programs). The interface module will also set up and administer the homepage of the SFB and ensure long-term external access to the data.
By extending the classic functions of compiling and servicing the information and data infrastructure, this project adopts a developmental and advisory function in the domain of IT infrastructure and empirical research methods. Hence, it makes its own contribution to the further development of research methods in the social sciences and to the construction of the infrastructure for managing data gathered with different methods (both qualitative and quantitative) and from different units (situations, persons, companies).

Further information is available online at: http://sfb882.uni-bielefeld.de/en