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HomeUncategorizedUniversity of Michigan Institute for Social Research is developing new data platform

University of Michigan Institute for Social Research is developing new data platform

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Imagine a data platform that can help improve communities’ resilience to natural disasters, avoid potential supply chain disruptions and accurately predict contagion

These are among the goals of a new data platform being developed by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR), which has received a $38 million investment from the US government. The National Science Foundation (NSF) earlier this year.

The new data platform will enable researchers in multiple fields to more efficiently collect, store and protect important information for their research. In the past, many researchers faced obstacles such as incompatible data standards, missing or incorrectly populated information, and technical difficulties when managing large datasets.

NSF’s $38 million investment is to enable the Institute for Social Research to build a research data ecosystem: 21st century. The ISR will oversee the creation of new data archives and software that researchers can use to access, organize, analyze and contribute data.


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“The Research Data Ecosystem (RDE) is a five-year project expected to be completed by the end of 2026,” explains RDE Managing Director Janet Jackson .

The RDE project started on January 17, 2022 and is currently in the pre-construction stage.

“Phase 1 will be available in 2024,” Jackson noted. “The end result will be a flexible data management system with a user-friendly interface that enables researchers to store, search, utilize the cloud to process and disseminate their data in a safe and secure environment. The ultimate goal is to enable research It is easier for people to find data and create new knowledge.”

There is an urgent need for higher quality Research Data

The Research Data Ecosystem Infrastructure Project was launched because Jackson said the ISR recognized that Better data management and analysis support is needed for researchers working in cutting-edge social sciences. ISR is the world’s largest institution for academic social science investigation and research. RDE’s work is housed within the ISR of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the world’s largest social science archive devoted to curated data.

“RDE is a transformative infrastructure project that will modernize the ICPSR software platform and develop an integrated set of software tools to advance research in the social and behavioral sciences, The focus is on democratizing said Margaret “Maggie” Levenstein, Director of ICPSR and Principal Investigator of RDE.

According to Levenstein, RDE will be enabled:

    : An integrated system for the entire research data life cycle, making work done early in the data life cycle useful in later stages, enabling Integrate data sources from different fields.Reproduce Sexuality : Easier to replicate and build on previous research findings by being able to find and reuse data and code .transparency: Provides information about sources, including sources, codes, and methods of collection of research data. Data Sharing Efficiency: Reduce the burden on data producers to share data and ensure that shared data is fair (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable).Confidentiality Protection: Protecting confidentiality while increasing research access.

    To achieve these goals, the project will develop a research data description framework for describing different research data lifecycle events. It’s a metadata specification similar to a resource description framework, Levenstein said.

    “The RDE will include independent functional components for each stage of the research life cycle, which will be integrated with one another and have key existing global research infrastructure,” Levinstein said. “The platform will support social and behavioral science researchers using traditional (e.g. surveys and experiments) and novel (e.g. digital tracking, imaging) types of data throughout the research lifecycle, from data collection to analysis to sharing to rediscovery and Reanalyze.”

    This infrastructure will improve the quality, integrity and security of data. It will also increase data accessibility and collaboration among users across social and behavioral science disciplines. It will do this through a user interface designed to make data more accessible across the board, Levenstein said.

    Turning massive amounts of data into insights

      The new RDE platform is basically designed to solve a problem that exists in almost every industry – organizations collect vast amounts of data that are not always It’s a mutual exchange, and it’s hard to find meaningful insights from it.

      “ICPSR began building a digital archive of social science data in the 1960s to preserve and disseminate new data that ISR researchers were creating,” Jackson said. “At the time, each dataset was created with its own custom framework, permissions, metadata, etc.”

      Since then, advances in IST’s ability to collect data have resulted in a large number of Influx of different data types and sizes. Once the ICPSR software platform is modernized, these datasets can be linked to inform research in the social sciences.

      and data providers,” Jackson said. “The resulting data is not interoperable with the rest of the research ecosystem. This increases the burden on researchers and reduces the quality, transparency and reproducibility of research. RDE will do this efficiently and at scale in a way that raises the scientific standard of social science research. “

      The RDE platform is built on a new infrastructure (OpenShift/Kubernetes) using newer cloud-native technologies. The platform consists of a set of shared services whose capabilities include ingestion , manage, search, disseminate, preserve, authenticate, and authorize.

      “The platform will improve the quality of data-driven social and behavioral science research throughout the data lifecycle,” Levenstein “This, combined with a human-centred design interface, will enable researchers across disciplines to work more efficiently and create, organize, archive, access and analyze data in ways that are not possible with existing infrastructure. The new infrastructure will also facilitate interactions between other parts of the research ecosystem through an API system. “

      NSF invests in new data platform to help advance social science research capabilities designed to benefit all citizens.

      ” Research in the social, behavioral and economic sciences seeks to improve understanding of human behavior: how we create, respond to, and are shaped by the natural and social worlds,” Jackson said. “Advances in the social sciences enable individuals, parents and families, civic actors and Civil society organizations, businesses and evidence-based policymakers are able to make effective, high-quality decisions.

      Jackson emphasized that the empirical renaissance across the social sciences—scientists are using new computational methods, new experimental methods, and new data sources—has changed our perception of understanding of human society, from the determinants of inequality to how children learn to read.

      “These intellectual innovations are enabled by researchers who have access to vast amounts of novel data— Digital traces of human activity – they use this data to gain new insights. NSF has recognized that data enrichment creates tremendous opportunity: harnessing the data revolution is one of its priorities,” Jackson said.

      NSF has conducted extensive ICPSR throughout its history investments, including facilitating the transition from tape drives to the Internet.

      “We believe that in addition to supporting the investments they have already made in the ICPSR’s Archives of Social Sciences, NSF now recognizes that there are There is a need to invest in the ability to process larger, more connected data in the cloud,” Jackson said.

      To understand what the investment means, Jackson shared an example.

      “Imagine you want to research a specific zip code known to have a specific adverse health condition. You can come to ICPSR and safely and securely identify all kinds of research and data (EEG data, survey data, video data, geospatial data, criminal justice data, educational data, etc.) from this zip code,” she said. “Then, You can conduct research in the cloud like never before. Once established, the RDE, combined with the ongoing data management efforts at ICPSR, will enable the research community at all levels to do so. “

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