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Data Repository Outreach Specialist Sandi Caldrone (Research Data, Purdue Libraries)

Data Repository Outreach Specialist Sandi Caldrone (Research Data, Purdue Libraries)

Last week, the Washington Post published an article about the data a Purdue University professor (and two of his research colleagues) gathered on “every confirmed, line-of-duty police killing a civilian in 2014 and 2015.Logan Strother, assistant professor in the Purdue Department of Political Science, used the Purdue University Research Repository, or PURR, to publish the dataset of police shootings he references in the piece. (Co-authors include Charles Menifield and Geiguen Shin, both at Rutgers University, Newark.) According to Data Repository Outreach Specialist (Research Data, Purdue University Libraries) Sandi Caldrone, by using PURR to publish the dataset, Strother is promoting transparency in scholarship.

“It also allows others researchers to replicate or build upon his work,” she noted.

She said the dataset referenced in the Washington Post piece is freely available for public download on the PURR website at doi.org/10.4231/R70G3HCR. It is an example of how one Purdue faculty member uses the valuable PURR research data-management tool.

“PURR is available to anyone at Purdue—faculty, staff, and students,” Caldrone said. “We support researchers throughout the research data-management lifecycle, providing help with data-management planning, online file storage for ongoing projects, data-publication services, and data preservation and archiving.”

According to Vikki Weake, assistant professor in biochemistry at Purdue, she and her lab team members have used PURR extensively to archive datasets associated with their published studies.

“Data management and archiving are becoming increasingly important in the life sciences,” Weake noted. “This is really important, as other researchers have access to the raw data, so they can replicate our analyses and results. The National Institutes of Health have recognized that we need efforts to improve rigor and reproducibility in biomedical science, and services that make raw data freely available are a great way for labs to be transparent about the work that they are doing. Ideally, other groups should be able to take our data and replicate our findings, or if new knowledge becomes available—they might use our data to gain novel insight into a biological process.”

In a brief Q&A below, Caldrone shares how PURR fits into the work that researchers at Purdue University perform and how she and Libraries’ faculty and staff can support them via PURR.

Q. How does PURR fit into the resources and services provided to campus by the Purdue Libraries?

Caldrone: Most of our resources are available online at purr.purdue.edu, but what really sets us apart from other data-management tools is that we have a team on campus to help every step of the way. We’re part of the Research Data unit, which provides consultations and support to help Purdue researchers plan, describe, disseminate, steward, and archive datasets.

Q. Why would faculty and students want to use PURR for their research needs?

Caldrone: Data is a valuable research product, and increasingly funders and publishers expect that product to be shared with the public. We provide the support to meet those funder and publisher requirements. There are lots of other places to publish data online. Our advantage is that we have support staff on campus to help with the process.

Since we are part of the Libraries, we also take preservation seriously, and we carefully archive all of our published datasets. During data collection, many researchers also take advantage of our online file storage space. It’s accessible anywhere on the web and is a simple, easy option for sharing files with off-campus collaborators.

Students learning about data should also look to PURR for sample datasets. See what data looks like in your discipline, download data files, and use them to test data analysis and visualization tools. Or, just explore our collections.

Q. Recently, PURR was redesigned. Why it was needed? What changed about it?

Caldrone: Our look hadn’t changed much since we started in 2011, so we were definitely due for a visual redesign. We took that opportunity to make functional improvements, as well. We increased our storage space, streamlined the registration process, and really expanded our collection of help resources.

Home page of the Purdue University Research Repository. Images that appear on the home page are part of datasets stored in PURR. This image is from "Biological, chemical and flow characteristics of five river sampling sites in the Wabash River watershed near Lafayette, Indiana – 2014."

Home page of the Purdue University Research Repository. Images that appear on the home page are part of datasets stored in PURR. This image is from “Biological, chemical and flow characteristics of five river sampling sites in the Wabash River watershed near Lafayette, Indiana – 2014.”

Q. When in the research process should a researcher at Purdue begin to think about using PURR?

Caldrone: We’re happy to help researchers at any stage, but ideally we hope people will think about PURR early in the planning process. We provide helpful resources and in-person guidance for researchers writing data-management plans, whether or not they decide to publish their data in PURR. Having sound data-management practices in place before data collection starts saves a lot of work and stress down the road.

Q. How should a researcher reach out to you and your team members about using PURR? What kind of customer service help can you provide them to help get them started?

Caldrone: We have written instructions and video demos online showing how to use the PURR (see purr.purdue.edu/guides). We also provide one-on-one or group training sessions and consultations. Researchers can reach out to us at purr@purdue.edu or submit a support ticket on the website. You can also reach the entire Libraries Research Data team at researchdata@purdue.edu.

Q. Any other information you would like to impart to the audience at Purdue?

Caldrone: We’ve had some exciting data collections published recently. Standa Pejsa, PURR’s data curator, worked closely with Professor Nicholas Rauh in classics to publish an image database of hundreds of pottery sherds from Dr. Rauh’s archaeological work in the Cilicia region in what is now Turkey. Their publication is the result of years of hard work and can be found at https://purr.purdue.edu/publications/2924/1.

We’re also working with the philosophy department to publish audio recordings and transcripts of lectures given by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. This work is still underway, but we have several semesters’ worth of lectures already published. Anyone who would like to hear what it was like to take a course with Deleuze can check out The Movement-Image: Bergsonian Lessons on Cinema.