News

New DDI Alliance Privacy Policy

The DDI Alliance recognizes and values the privacy of its community members and guests.  Accordingly, the Executive Board has approved a new Privacy Policy to provide specific information on how the Alliance collects and processes personal information. 

A link to the new policy is found on the DDI Alliance web site footer, as well as under the About menu.  More details: https://ddialliance.org/privacy-policy.

DDI Product Suite Logos

Over the past few years, the DDI Alliance has developed and adopted a broad product line, including Codebook, Lifecycle, Controlled Vocabularies, XKOS, and most recently the Structured Data Transformation Language. The term “DDI” no longer refers to a single metadata standard or schema, but has evolved to refer to a suite of different data management tools. This evolution is being reflected in the ongoing reorganization of the DDI Alliance website (https://ddialliance.org/products) to highlight and describe the different products offered by the DDI Alliance.

The DDI Marketing and Partnerships Group, in collaboration with the DDI Training Group, has developed a series of new product logos to differentiate the components of the DDI product suite (https://ddialliance.org/membership/promoting-ddi/logos). We hope the community will embrace the new logos and use the information on this page to promote the DDI product suite.

2021 DDI Annual Meetings

Dear DDI community,
 
Each year, the DDI Alliance hosts annual meetings to discuss Alliance business, learn about activities, and provide feedback on priorities for the coming year.  This year, we will host two separate virtual meetings in June, which are described below.  We invite anyone who is interested in DDI activities to attend these virtual meetings.   
 
DDI Alliance Annual Meeting of the Scientific Community
June 15, 2021 (Tuesday) 13:00-15:00 UTC

Join Zoom Meeting: https://umich.zoom.us/j/94437207068
Meeting ID: 944 3720 7068
Find your local number: https://umich.zoom.us/u/abon9oB5kV

 
The Meeting of the Scientific Community will discuss DDI technical and scientific developments, including a Scientific Work Plan for the coming year.  The recently reorganized Scientific Board will convene the annual meeting.
 
DDI Alliance Annual Meeting of Members
June 22, 2021 (Tuesday) 13:00-15:00 UTC
 
Join Zoom Meeting: https://umich.zoom.us/j/98025859815
Meeting ID: 980 2585 9815
Find your local number: https://umich.zoom.us/u/adYadTCRE4
 
The Meeting of Members is a forum for Member Organization discussion and feedback, as well as planning for the upcoming fiscal year.  The annual Meeting of Members is chaired by the Chair of the DDI Executive Board.
 
Agendas with summary reports will be distributed the month before the respective meetings.  Past annual meeting materials are available on the DDI web site: https://ddialliance.org/annual-meetings.  If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to reach out.  Looking forward to seeing many of you (virtually) in June!  
 
Sincerely,
Jared
 
 

Jared Lyle
Executive Director, DDI Alliance
ICPSR, University of Michigan
lyle@umich.edu

 
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DDI Alliance Panelists at the Government of Canada Data Conference 2021

Members of the DDI Alliance will be participating in the "Standards in Action: Emergence of Data Standards to Drive Business Outcomes" session of the Government of Canada Data Conference 2021 (19 Feb at 14:00 EST).  Cory Chobanik, from Statistics Canada, is organizing and moderating the session. Dan Gillman, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is a panelist. The panel will explore the value and how to boost the adoption of common data standards across government.  

For program and registration details, visit the conference web page.

Scientific Board meetings + leadership

The first meeting of the newly elected Scientific Board was held on 3 February 2021.  Ingo Barkow, University of Applied Sciences of the Grisons, was selected as the Chair of the Scientific Board, with Hilde Orten, Norwegian Centre for Research Data, selected as the Vice-Chair.

More details about the Board, including a link to the meeting minutes, is here: https://ddialliance.org/scientific-board.

 

DDI Alliance Accomplishments in 2020

As we enter 2021, we want to acknowledge the many DDI accomplishments in 2020 made possible by our passionate community volunteers and our 40+ member organizations.  Achievements include:

DDI Lifecycle 3.3 public release. The result of six years of work addressing new requirements filed by the DDI community, DDI Lifecycle 3.3 offers better coverage for research and data management including non-survey data collection, sampling, and classification management. 

New DDI product: SDTL. The Alliance membership approved an addition to the DDI product suite called Structured Data Transformation Language (SDTL). Designed as another tool to facilitate a DDI-based workflow through the research data lifecycle, SDTL provides machine-actionable descriptions of variable-level data transformation histories derived from any data transformation language (SPSS, SAS, Stata, R, etc.).  The same scripts that are used to transform and manage variables and data files can be used to update metadata files, thereby increasing efficiency in the research process and reducing information loss.

DDI-CDI public review. The Alliance announced the public review of a new specification called DDI – Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI). DDI-CDI is a model-driven specification that is designed to provide support for integrating data across domain and disciplinary boundaries, describing disparate data sources, and documenting their provenance. DDI-CDI is technology-agnostic and adaptable to any platform or representation, designed to meet emerging needs for the integration of old and new forms of research data. The development of DDI-CDI also spurred new partnerships with open science organizations like CODATA.

International standards. The DDI Alliance is now a category A liaison to ISO/TC46/SC 4, This moves DDI-Codebook and DDI-Lifecycle closer to being recognized as official International Standards Organizations (ISO) standards. DDI work products are now also catalogued in FAIRsharing, a curated resource on data and metadata standards dedicated to making research data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reproducible. 

Organizational updates. The Alliance Bylaws were updated to reorganize the Scientific Board and a new Scientific Board was elected.  These changes will improve the management and direction of the Alliance’s scientific and technical work activities.   The Training Group was refreshed with new co-chairs and many new members.  Finally, the Alliance website was reorganized to improve navigation and increase its usefulness for novices and experts alike, assigning responsibility for content to specific working groups. 

As we start a new year, we look forward to building on these accomplishments and connecting with many of you on Alliance activities and at meetings in the coming year.

DDI Scientific Board Election Results

The DDI Scientific Board election closed yesterday.  The election was decided on the basis of those candidates receiving the most votes.  We had 13 very qualified candidates, who were described in an earlier announcement: https://ddialliance.org/announcement/ddi-scientific-board-candidates-election.  Twenty-four member organizations voted in this election.
 
The top seven candidates who received the most votes have been elected to the Scientific Board.  The candidates (and vote counts):
  • Ingo Barkow (19)
  • Carsten Thiel (18)
  • Darren Bell (17)
  • Flavio Rizzolo (16)
  • Simon Hodson (15)
  • Hilde Orten (15)
  • Joachim Wackerow (15)
  • Trisha Kunst Martinez (11)
  • Larry Hoyle (9)
  • Knut Wenzig (9)
  • Christophe Dzikowski (7)
  • Dan Gillman (6)
  • Nicolas Sauger (6)
Our sincere thanks to all thirteen candidates for their willingness to serve.  We look forward to the elected Scientific Board members' terms starting in January 2021!

Building Collaboration between the DDI Alliance and CODATA, the Committee on Data of the International Science Council

CODATA, the Committee on Data of the International Science Council, and the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Alliance recently signed a letter of collaboration building on the longstanding and ongoing collaboration between the two organisations. The letter details activities where the two organisations intend to cooperate and support each other in the achievement of their common objectives. Each of the organisations has become a dues-paying member of the other organisation and intends to work as an active member of that organisation's activities.

 

Furthermore, to strengthen cooperation, Steve McEachern, Chair of the Executive Board, will be the DDI Alliance delegate to CODATA, while Simon Hodson, Executive Director of CODATA, is a candidate for the Scientific Board of the DDI Alliance.

 

Two developments make this collaboration opportune and appropriate.  On the one hand, CODATA has been mandated by the International Science Council, as part of the latter’s Action Plan 2019-2021, to develop and implement a global, decadal programme entitled ‘Making Data Work for Cross-Domain Grand Challenges’. The objectives of the programme are multiple, but first among these is to assist cross-domain research and policy monitoring by facilitating the interoperability, combination and integration of data from many different sources. The mechanisms being explored to assist this are also multiple and include: developing conceptual and semantic alignment between key metadata specifications, developing semantic tools to assist interoperability, developing methodologies and processes to assist harmonisation and data ‘cleaning’, and exploring the contribution that machine learning can make to some of these processes.

 

On the other hand, DDI - Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI) is a potentially significant development which includes definitions for core concepts, applicable across a range of research areas, and which will therefore greatly increase interoperability between data sets.  Taken alongside developments such as DCAT, Schema.org, initiatives to standardise representation of experiments, observations and measurements, and the improved management of ontologies, DDI-CDI can make a positive contribution across domains and the collaboration between the DDI Alliance and CODATA is very timely.

 

In the recent past, the DDI Alliance and CODATA have engaged in a number of activities together:

  • Jointly organized two "cross-domain" workshops on metadata standards, hosted at Schloss Dagstuhl in Wadern, Germany (2018, 2019).
  • CODATA has supported the DDI-CDI public review, helping to promote and conduct a series of webinars since May 2020 with an attendance of over 400 people across a wide range of domains. (Given the need for input to the specification from other domains, CODATA's connections were invaluable in identifying the right group of participants.)
  • CODATA is leading an EOSC project to produce a report on the application of DDI-CDI within the EOSC environment, working with members of the DDI Modelling, testing and Representation (MRT) working group.
  • Engaged in supporting projects which are implementing DDI, as part of the Decadal Programme ("Making Data Work for Cross-Domain Grand Challenges"). Notably, the INSPIRE Network development in east Africa is serving both as a test case for using DDI Codebook and DDI-CDI as part of their implementation, and acting as one of the initial use cases for the Decadal Programme on the subject of infectious disease. 
  • Discussed collaboration between the DDI Training Committee and various training programs on the topic of research data management which CODATA participates in, including the RDA-CODATA School of Research Data Science and work with FAIRsFAIR and GO FAIR around their competence centers in this area. A DDI introductory training workshop (51 participants) was conducted as part of the International FAIR Convergence Symposium in December 2020 as a first step in this collaboration.
  • DDI in general and DDI-CDI in particular featured in a number of other sessions at the FAIR Convergence Symposium including a high level panel setting the key technical themes for the week (over 200 participants), a session on combining infectious disease data, including the INSPIRE Network above (over 30 participants) and a session on FAIR data provenance (over 60 participants).

ABOUT THE DDI ALLIANCE

The DDI Alliance shares a commitment to meet worldwide demand for publicly available standards and semantic products that support the documentation and integration of social science data and other data necessary for understanding the human condition. The DDI Alliance is an international collaboration dedicated to establishing metadata standards and semantic products for describing social science data, data measuring human activity, and other data derived from observational methods. The DDI Alliance is composed of its Member and Associate Member Organizations and is governed by an Executive Board, a Scientific Board, and a Technical Committee. In addition, there are working groups that focus on developing specific areas of DDI.

 

ABOUT CODATA

CODATA’s mission is to connect data and people to advance science and improve our world. CODATA is an international non-profit organization mobilizing a global expert community. As the Committee on Data of the International Science Council (ISC), CODATA supports the ISC mission of advancing science as a global public good by promoting the availability and usability of data for all fields of research. CODATA works to advance the interoperability and the usability of such data: research data should be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). CODATA promotes the principle that data produced by research and of potential value for research should be as open as possible and only as closed as necessary. CODATA pursues its mission through strategic activities to build consensus and implement good practice, and through advancing data policies, data science and data education.

 

European DDI User Conference 2020 Report

Jon Johnson, Co-Chair of EDDI20, the 12th Annual European DDI 2020 User Conference, provided the following summary of the virtual conference held 1-2 December.

EDDI2020 was held virtually from Paris, and was hosted by Sciences Po, Center for Socio-Political Data (CDSP). Going virtual was always going to be a challenge, it meant more meetings and more emails, both for those on the Local Organising Committee and the Program Committee and many thanks to them.

Nearly 250 registered for the three days. Usual attendance at EDDI is around 100, so going virtual had a real impact, not just the numbers we could reach out to, but also to the diversity in terms of countries (32) and organisations (138) many of whom have never had the opportunity to attend.

Nearly a third of sessions were from French organisations, the highest from a host country in the last 10 years, and a fifth each from Germany and the USA. 

Tutorials included an introduction to DDI (utilizing much of the growing material from the DDI Training Group), and two sessions on the candidate specification, DDI-Cross Domain Integration from some of the team who have been developing it.

The presentations reflected the increasing uptake of the DDI Alliance work products and their central role in delivering data across many infrastructures in Europe be they archives, research organisations or in official statistics.

DDI-Codebook is still the workhorse of our standards, and many presentations illustrated how relevant it continues to be, and how the vast pool of content available can be re-purposed and refashioned either through CESSDA, or by migrating into DataVerse, or building new tools on top of existing resources at GESIS.

DDI-Lifecycle was a major area of interest. Only six years since 3.2 was released, questionnaire functionality is now mature and continues to attract interest both in terms of editors, but also its potential to support a new layer of information to support research. Support for longitudinal data was well represented, to document concordance of data across time, linking surveys to admin data and confidentiality. The availability of better tools e.g. Colectica and CESSDA services, and the consequent lowering of barriers was reflected in a number of presentations which were more “researcher uses DDI to solve a problem”, than “data manager persuades researcher this is the best way”.

A session on DDI-CDI and its use in the CoDATA Decadal Programme and other presentations on linked data and XKOS highlighted the new horizons which are opening up. Where there is undocumented data, there is an opportunity to manage it and extend our existing standards to plug that gap! This was illustrated by the session on paradata, which introduced some forthcoming work, and raised the need for a working group in this increasingly important area. 

Presentations and posters are available from https://zenodo.org/communities/eddi20/. Recordings of the sessions are available on the DDI Alliance You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLii5T1O4gQHl8vt9pb8Am8SMzw1ZMNIn9. 

Sciences Po have generously agreed to host EDDI in 2021. With the vaccines in production, we look forward to see you in Paris 29 November – 1 December 2021.

Public Release of Structured Data Transformation Language (SDTL) - Version 1.0

The DDI Alliance is pleased to announce the initial public release of Structured Data Transformation Language (SDTL) - Version 1.0.

Structured Data Transformation Language (SDTL) is an independent intermediate language for representing data transformation commands. Statistical analysis packages (e.g., SPSS, Stata, SAS, Python, and R) provide similar functionality, but each one has its own proprietary language. SDTL provides machine-actionable descriptions of variable-level data transformation histories derived from any data transformation language. SDTL uses JSON schemas to represent common operations, such as RECODE, MERGE FILES, and VARIABLE LABELS. Provenance metadata represented in SDTL can be added to documentation in DDI and other metadata standards.

For more information, please see the SDTL product page on the DDI Alliance web site: https://ddialliance.org/products/sdtl/1.0

Thanks to everyone who contributed to SDTL - Version 1.0, especially George Alter, the C2Metadata Project supported by the Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF ACI-1640575), the DDI SDTL Working Group, and the DDI Technical Committee.