News

DDI Alliance and CODATA collaboration at Schloss Dagstuhl

Workshops held at Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics have been an important activity for the DDI Alliance and many of its partner and member organizations over the years. Since 2018, CODATA has collaborated closely on a series of workshops looking at cross-domain interoperability based on DDI and other metadata standards. 

Since 2007, members of the DDI community have organized twenty-eight workshops on different topics related to DDI and metadata, with a total of 548 participants over that time (see detailed list of workshops). These workshops have made a critical contribution to the DDI Alliance’s work program including the development of new versions of the specification, training activities, and coordination with relevant standards bodies. 

More recently, the workshops have explored issues that are fundamental to the objectives and methodology of the CODATA Decadal Programme ‘Making Data Work for Global Grand Challenges’. This includes identifying ways of improving the interoperability of metadata standards and testing solutions against real-world case studies. DDI standards have played a significant role in this work and the development of DDI Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI) represents an important step forward.

Always, in keeping with the mission of Schloss Dagstuhl, these events have focused on the forward-looking aspects of DDI specifications from a computer science perspective, whether they addressed development, support, implementation, or inter-standards collaboration. Dagstuhl is a unique facility, providing an immersive environment that enables intensive and productive work. This has helped create a network of DDI users and metadata experts which is the excellent basis of further cooperation and exchange beyond the workshops in Dagstuhl. Furthermore, workshops have historically resulted from a partnership between several organizations, with GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, the DDI Alliance, and CODATA being the most important of these. All have provided not only their expertise to the workshops, but financial resources as well, to facilitate travel and similar expenses for participants. 

The current focus is on the relationship between DDI specifications and the emerging set of FAIR-enabling standards and specifications. At the heart of the European Commission-funded WorldFAIR project are eleven domain and cross-domain case studies: these will form an important part of the workshop activity in the near-term and are test cases for the emerging cross-domain interoperability framework. While DDI-CDI is the most obvious point of connection, DDI Lifecycle and DDI Codebook also fit into this picture as exemplary domain standards. Other DDI Alliance specifications such as XKOS (Extended Knowledge Organization System) and SDTL (Structured Data Transformation Language) are also relevant.

Due to COVID, many Dagstuhl seminars have been postponed, and this year the DDI-CODATA team has only been able to confirm a single week (August 28-September 2) because of scheduling requirements at Schloss Dagstuhl. We will return to having two workshops from 2023, and dates have been approved for the weeks September 24-29 and October 1-6. The working titles are ‘Defining a core metadata framework for cross-domain data sharing and reuse’ and ‘DDI-CDI: Realising interoperable data services in the metadata ecosystem’ respectively. 

The preliminary description of the 2022 workshop on ‘Interoperability for Cross-Domain Research: Machine-Actionability & Scalability’ is currently being used to recruit experts for the workshop.

We look forward to continuing what has been a fruitful collaboration, and will provide information regarding our planning activities in reports like this one moving forward. Schloss Dagstuhl has always provided a unique and highly effective venue for us to focus on forward-looking topics related to the DDI specifications, and we hope that this tradition will continue into the future.

The Dagstuhl Organizing Team:
Arofan Gregory, CODATA and DDI.
Hilde Orten, DDI and SIKT.
Joachim Wackerow.
Simon Cox, CODATA and CSIRO.
Simon Hodson, CODATA and DDI.
Steve McEachern, CODATA and DDI and ANU.

Seeking Nominations for a DDI Executive Board Vacancy

Dear DDI community,

The Executive Board, which is the policy making and oversight body of the Alliance, is seeking to fill a vacancy. Joachim (Achim) Wackerow retired from GESIS at the end of February and is no longer able to serve as an official member on the Executive Board. Achim's term runs through June 2023. According to the DDI Bylaws, "Any member vacancy will be filled by election as soon as possible and that member will begin serving when elected for the remainder of the vacating member's term."

If you are interested in serving, or know of someone else who would make a good candidate, please email me (lyle@umich.edu) by 29 April 2022. We will hold an election in May to fill the vacancy.

Bill Block and Barry Radler, Executive Board Chair and Vice Chair, are copied on this message. Feel free to reach out to them or me with questions.

Sincerely,
Jared

 

Jared Lyle
Executive Director, DDI Alliance
ICPSR, University of Michigan

DDI Scientific Board Election Results

DDI member representatives voted in March 2022 to elect one member to fll Joachim (Achim) Wackerow's vacancy on the DDI Scientific Board. Seventeen of the 28 voting eligible DDI member representatives participated in the election. According to the Alliance Bylaws, the election is decided on the basis of those candidates getting the most votes.

The election results (number of votes are indicated in parentheses):

The Scientific Board is composed of seven voting members elected by the Members of the Alliance. The Executive Director and the Chair of the Technical Committee are ex‐officio members, without internal vote. The Scientific Board may appoint up to two external Advisory Members, without internal vote. The Scientific Board is the scientific and technical body of the Alliance which represents the Scientific Community. The Scientific Board proposes the scientific work plan to the membership for approval and facilitates the scientific and technical work activities.

I want to thank Wolfgang for accepting the nomination and for his willingness to serve on the Board.  Wolfgang's biosketch and position statement are listed below.  I also want to thank Achim Wackerow for his many years of service to the DDI scientific community.

Sincerely,
Jared

 

Jared Lyle
Executive Director, DDI Alliance
ICPSR, University of Michigan

 

Wolfgang Zenk-Möltgen

Biosketch

Wolfgang Zenk-Möltgen is a researcher at GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, Germany, and has been involved in DDI activities since his start at the Data Archive in the late 1990s. He took part in many of the annual DDI training and workshop series at Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz Center for Informatics in Wadern, Germany, where he worked on further development of the standard and published several working papers together with colleagues from the DDI Alliance. Both at GESIS and within CESSDA, he has been actively promoting the DDI standard with database development and standardization projects. These topics were also covered by presentations at IASSIST and EDDI conferences. Wolfgang is also a member of the programme committee of the European DDI User Conference (EDDI).

Position Statement

As a Social Science researcher with some technical and Computer Science knowledge, I am concerned with providing practical solutions with a DDI standard that supports real world use cases. I like the promise of the DDI Alliance to cover the whole data life cycle of research data and to help organizations and individuals to collaborate on the basis of data and metadata. I am convinced that the combination of subject independent standards with standards that are designed to support subject specific research will help to create a vivid working environment for researchers using data and metadata as their basis of knowledge.

2022 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 meetings in June, which are described below.  We invite anyone who is interested in DDI activities to attend these meetings.  

DDI Alliance Annual Meeting of Members (virtual only)
June 1, 2022 (Wednesday) 16:00-18:00 CEST, 10:00-12:00 EDT
 
Register in advance for this meeting: https://umich.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEqfuCpqTwiEtaBNve_ieKJkJH8DxWV2rXY.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The Annual Meeting of Members reviews activities of the Alliance, reviews and approves the activities of the Executive Board, and provides a forum for discussion and feedback.  The annual Meeting of Members is chaired by the Chair of the DDI Executive Board.  This meeting will be virtual.

DDI Alliance Annual Meeting of the Scientific Community (hybrid: in-person at IASSIST meeting & virtual)
June 7, 2022 (Tuesday) 16:15-17:45 CEST, 10:15-11:45 EDT

Register in advance for this meeting: https://umich.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIqf-6hqzgjGdATpCxuYrMqdmRH_HIW7InG.   After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

The Annual Meeting of the Scientific Community reports on the activities of the Scientific Board to the DDI Scientific Community. The meeting provides a forum for member organization discussion and feedback, reviews and approves the activities of the Scientific Board in the preceding year, and reviews and approves the Scientific Work Plan for the coming year.  The Scientific Board will convene the annual meeting, which will be hybrid -- in-person (TBD location) at the IASSIST meeting in Sweden, with an option for virtual attendance.
 
Agendas 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 in June!  
 
Sincerely,
Jared

 
 

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

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Webinar (28 March): DDI Working Together with Other Standards

Register now! New webinar 28 March: DDI Working Together with Other Standards

The first webinar in the new series offered by CODATA and the DDI Alliance is now open for registration!
https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1789729374315971088

Standards promote interoperability, transparency across agencies, and reduce development time. Systems used for the collection, management, production, and dissemination of data regularly employ several different standards for modelling and transmitting their data and metadata. DDI is often a core part of this suite, but it is rarely the only one.

The way in which DDI aligns and interacts with other standards has evolved over time: from a static, archival ‘XML codebook’, it has become a metadata resource for helping to drive systems and provide the basis for reuse and data harmonisation. Looking forward, DDI promises to support FAIR data in significant ways, as part of an integrated suite of standards.

This free webinar looks at the different DDI metadata standards and how they relate to both each other and to other models and standards in common use in applications today, including schema.org, DCAT, and Dublin Core. Speakers will include Alina Danciu (Sciences Po), Christophe Dzikowski (INSEE) and Arofan Gregory (CODATA). The session will be introduced by Geneviève Michaud (Sciences Po). There will be time for questions and answers, moderated by Adrian Dusa (University of Bucharest).

There is no fee to attend, but registration is required. We look forward to seeing you on 28 March!

Registration is open now at: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/1789729374315971088

Seeking DDI Alliance funding requests for the upcoming fiscal year (July 2022-June 2023)

Dear DDI community,

Each year, the DDI Executive Board considers funding requests to support DDI activities.  Anyone may submit a funding request for the Executive Board to consider.  If you have a funding request for the upcoming fiscal year (FY2023, July 2022 through June 2023), please email the request to secretariat [at] ddialliance [dot] org by April 30, 2022.  

Requests should explain the purpose of the request, how it aligns with the Alliance's Strategic Plan, and include an itemized budget for the funding request.  If requests are related to scientific or technical activities, the DDI Scientific Board will evaluate the request from the perspective of the Alliance Scientific Work Plan and provide feedback to the Executive Board.  Incoming budget requests related to scientific or technical activities will be prioritized according to their level of importance, and a reasoning with pros and cons for each evaluation will be made available, for the purpose of clarity and transparency.  Full details about annual budget funding requests are here: https://ddialliance.org/alliance/funding-guidelines-and-request-form.  

The Alliance's membership dues are used to fund these requests.  The budget for the current 2022 fiscal year was finalized in June 2021 and is described in the Executive Board minutes: https://ddialliance.org/sites/default/files/20210609_Executive_Board_minutes.pdf.  The FY2021 financial report is part of the 2021 Annual Meeting materials (see page 62): https://ddialliance.org/sites/default/files/20210622_DDI_Alliance_Meeting_of_Members_Minutes.pdf.  

Feel free to contact me with questions.
 
Sincerely,
Jared
 
 

Jared Lyle
Executive Director, DDI Alliance
ICPSR, University of Michigan

EDDI 2021 Report

Jon Johnson, Co-Chair of EDDI21, the 13th Annual European DDI User Conference, provided the following summary of the virtual conference held 30 November-1 December 2021.

Planning started as ever in January, in the peak of the second coronavirus wave. The Program Committee made an early decision that a face-to-face conference was not possible. Any fears we may have had about attendance were put at rest with over 175 participants register, from 32 countries and nearly 90 different organisations.

Traditionally, Archives and Official Statistics agencies have dominated the attendance at EDDI, but this year for the first time, over 50 percent were researchers or from research organisations. In a ‘normal’ year, about 20% of presentations are from organisations or individuals newly presenting; this year that was a little down, but that was a reflection of a flurry of presentations from established organisations.

One might have thought that the pressure of delivering data to researchers during the pandemic might have stifled innovation, but the opposite seems to have been the case with the community rising to this challenge with new ways of using the standards and products of the Alliance.

The presentations fell neatly into four main categories: Discovery, Enhancing Metadata, Interoperability, Workflows and infrastructure, and a session on User Needs.

Discovery presentations reflected both finding new ways of managing and presenting data in DDI-Codebook and managing the complexity of DDI-Lifecycle in ways that are comprehensible to researchers brought up in the age of Google.

Sessions on enhancing metadata explored better ways of using existing resources such as Controlled Vocabularies and XKOS, transitioning from Codebook to Lifecycle, automation to uplift metadata through new technologies, and the use of synthetic data. The large reserves of DDI in Archives were the focus for sessions on interoperability, infrastructure and workflows, centring around supporting the CESSDA infrastructure.

The recently upgraded functionality of the DDI Registry was also spotlighted and it will be interesting to see how quickly the ability to resolve persistent identifiers at an item level is picked up by the community in forthcoming EDDIs.

DDI-CDI also got a showing with work on how it is being used to connect with the growing European NGSI-LD infrastructure. The DDI Training group also presented on what has been a highly successful collaboration since its reboot at the Train-the-Trainer event in 2018. The development of the new training library has been a huge effort and put training front and centre of the DDI Alliance’s activities.

Prior to the conference, DDI Alliance standards and work products and tools were showcased in a day-long training fair, co-sponsored by CODATA.

There is a huge amount of behind the scenes work that goes into organising EDDI. We are grateful to Sciences Po for organising the online support for the conference, and a special mention to Knut Wenzig for managing to get the presentations up onto Zenodo, sometimes within an hour.

We are sad to be losing Uwe Jensen who has been the powerhouse behind keeping the EDDI Program Committees and Local Organisation Committees on track for the majority of the 2010s. We wish him a happy retirement from GESIS and from EDDI. But he leaves behind the EDDI Manual to which we will be completely reliant upon for 2022 and beyond.

We are also losing Achim Wackerow (also retiring from GESIS), who was responsible for EDDI being established and who chaired the conferences from 2009-2018. EDDI is not just an annual conference, it has been a cornerstone of the DDI community in Europe, travelling around European cities evangelising good and forward-thinking data management one country at a time. It is barely conceivable that this would have happened had it not been for Achim’s vision and determination. So it was fitting that we were able to have a celebration of his achievement led by Mary Vardigan (formerly DDI Alliance’s Executive Director) and Peter Granda, also from ICPSR, at the close of the conference.

Presentations and posters are available from https://zenodo.org/communities/eddi21/. Recordings of the sessions are available on the DDI Alliance You Tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLii5T1O4gQHk6xDePurzc6uMgOv4gzNHX. Sciences Po have generously agreed to host EDDI (again) in 2022. We look forward to seeing you in Paris, dates to be confirmed!

“Introducing the DDI Metadata Standards in Support of Transparency in Federal Statistics” COPAFS Webinar: March 16th at 12pm EST

Dan Gillman will be presenting a Webinar on Wednesday, March 16th, 2022 at 12pm EST for the U.S. Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS).  The Webinar is entitled “Introducing the DDI Metadata Standards in Support of Transparency in Federal Statistics.”  Since 1980, COPAFS has provided an open dialog between those who use federal statistics in professional contexts and the Federal statistical agencies that produce those statistics for the public good. Supporting organizations include professional associations, businesses, research institutes, and others that help to produce and/or use federal statistics.

Dan is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Panel on Transparency and Reproducibility in Federal Statistics that released the November 2021 report, Transparency in Statistical Information for the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and All Federal Statistical Agencies.  The Report provides an opportunity for the DDI Alliance to position itself as the source of many of the metadata standards needed by the federal statistical agencies to achieve transparency.  Dan is also very active in several DDI activities, including most recently initiating and chairing the DDI Glossary Working Group.

To register for the COPAFS Webinar, see: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/introducing-the-ddi-metadata-standards-tick....

CODATA-Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Training Webinars – 2022 series announced!

CODATA and the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) are delighted to announce topics for our upcoming 2022 season of training webinars!

This year’s series of webinars will begin in March and continue through the rest of 2022, covering a diverse range of topics to help users to understand and effectively deploy the DDI suite of tools and standards.

Whilst exact details and dates will be confirmed soon, topics covered in the 2022 series of training webinars will be as follows:

  • March 2022: DDI Working Together with Other Standards
  • April 2022: Metadata Uplift – PDF/Excel to Structured DDI Documentation
  • May 2022: Vive les Métadonnées! (Les bases de DDI en français / DDI basics in French)
  • June/July 2022: DDI Controlled Vocabularies, the CESSDA Workbench, SKOS and XKOS
  • Oct 2022: How to Document Variables w/ DDI Lifecycle and DDI Cross Domain Integration – the Variable Cascade
  • Nov 2022: Survey of Implementation Examples/Use Cases of DDI-Cross Domain Integration

All webinars in the series are free to register for and attend, and will be in English unless otherwise specified.  There will be plenty of time at each event for questions and answers.  Each webinar will be recorded and this recording will be made available online after the event.

Recordings of the 2021 series of training webinars are also still available online.  Please visit https://codata.org/initiatives/data-skills/ddi-training-webinars/ to access videos and presentations on the following topics:

1: Introduction to Metadata for Research Data Management: A Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Perspective (April 2021)

2: Implementing FAIR: What DDI Can Do for You! (June 2021)

3: Data Integration: Using DDI-CDI with Other Standards. (September 2021)

4: Data Quality: Thinking about Quality and DDI Metadata. (November 2021)

5. DDI Training Fair at the 2021 European DDI Users’ Conference. (26 and 29 November 2021) (Includes ‘Discovering DDI’, a DDI Codebook tutorial, a DDI Lifecycle tutorial, a DDI Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI) tutorial, and an overview of DDI Tools and Services.)

These materials are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license 4.0.  We hope you enjoy the recordings from 2021, and we look forward to seeing you at our 2022 series of free events!

Learn more about DDI at https://ddialliance.org/

Learn more about CODATA webinars at https://codata.org/events/webinars

Seeking Nominations for a DDI Scientific Board Vacancy

Joachim (Achim) Wackerow, current member of the DDI Scientific Board, is retiring from GESIS at the end of February and will no longer be able to serve as an official member on the Scientific Board.  Achim's term runs through June 2023.  According to the DDI Bylaws, "Any member vacancy will be filled by election as soon as possible and that member will begin serving when elected for the remainder of the vacating member's term."  

The Scientific Board is seeking nominations to fill Achim's vacancy.  Representatives from Members and Associate Members of the Alliance are eligible to serve as elected members of the Scientific Board.  If you are interested in serving, or know of someone else who would make a good candidate, please email me (lyle@umich.edu) by 28 February 2022.  We will hold an election in March to fill the vacancy. 

The Scientific Board is the scientific and technical body of the Alliance and represents the Scientific Community.  The purposes of the Scientific Board are to:

  • Provide direction and coordination in the development of the substantive content of the DDI standards and other work products of the Alliance by its sub-committees and working groups within the context of the Alliance Strategic Plan.
  • Implement the scientific work plan agreed at the Annual Meeting of the Scientific Community.
  • Oversee the substantive content of DDI standards and other work products.
  • Undertake research and testing concerning proposals for DDI standards and other work products.
  • Develop and promulgate best practices for use of DDI standards and work products.
  • Assess progress and barriers to progress.
  • Provide a report on progress of the scientific work plan over the previous year, and proposals for the future scientific direction and related activities to the Annual Meeting of the Scientific Community.

Feel free to reach out to Ingo Barkow and Hilde Orten, Scientific Board Chair and Vice Chair, or me with questions.

Sincerely,
Jared

 

Jared Lyle
Executive Director, DDI Alliance
ICPSR, University of Michigan