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From the Former Director

This is the last issue of DDI Directions that I will produce as I will be retiring soon. One of the things I will miss the most in retirement is the supportive DDI community. It has been a true pleasure to know all of you and to work with you on the standard. Best of luck to DDI, to the Alliance, and to all of you who have contributed so much.

Mary Vardigan, Former Director, DDI Alliance, vardigan@umich.edu

From the Director

This is the first issue of DDI Directions that I produce as Director. I look forward to engaging with the community; feel free to contact me directly with suggestions or questions (+1 734-763-6075 or lyle@umich.edu).

I have long admired how DDI facilitates discovery and interoperability of data, as well as the ambitious efforts of the community, including: the Moving Forward project (DDI4), outreach efforts to other metadata specifications, and user community meetings in Europe and North America, to name just a few.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the many contributions Mary Vardigan has made to the DDI community. Her support has been unflagging. Please read Chuck Humphrey's tribute to Mary, found on the last pages of this newsletter. We wish Mary all the best as she moves into retirement.

Jared Lyle, Director, DDI Alliance, lyle@umich.edu

In This Issue

Volume XIV, Number 1, November 2015

New Website Launched

A redesigned DDI website with simpler navigation and a new look and feel was launched on Thursday, October 15. Kelly Chatain, Associate Archivist at Survey Research Operations, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, headed up the effort assisted by Michael Iannaccone (ICPSR), Olof Olsson (Swedish National Data Service), Stephanie Roth (Swedish National Data Service), Mary Vardigan (ICPSR), and Jing Wu (University of Mississippi). The DDI Marketing & Partnerships Group and the DDI Training Group also provided content suggestions and feedback.

D D I new website
DDI new website

Kelly notes that the website will continue to be enhanced and updated in a second phase of development that will focus on adding relevant content and cross-referencing functionality to improve access to that content. Some items on this list include:

  • Adding citation and DOI fields to all publications
  • Creating DDI social media feeds
  • Updating the DDI Lifecycle Diagram
  • Adding more materials to the new Training Library
  • Cross referencing Working Group, Committee, and Board members
  • Adding new conferences and presentations

We would like to enlist a few more site editors to contribute new content and update existing pages. If you would like to become a site editor, please let Kelly know.

Update from the World Bank

Olivier Dupriez, Lead Statistician at the World Bank, has provided an update on places around the world where DDI is now in use in government and other agencies (more than 60 countries) through the International Household Survey Network (IHSN). These locations are indicated on a new map on the website showing global DDI usage.

map showing global D D I usage
Map of global DDI usage

Olivier also reports that in September 2015, Mexico published a regulation in its "Diario Oficial de la Federacion" that made the DDI an official standard for statistical metadata. In addition, the IHSN's NADA application for creating data catalogs is being further enhanced and will become DDI-, Dublin Core-, and ISO 19139-compatible. Also, the Survey Solutions CAPI application developed by the World Bank has just released a new version that exports metadata in DDI format.

EDDI Conference to Take Place in December

EDDI15 will take place on December 2-3, 2015, in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the Royal School of Library and Information Science, University of Copenhagen. The conference, hosted by Statistics Denmark (DST) and DDA/National Archive of Denmark, will bring together DDI users and professionals from all over Europe and the world. Anyone interested in developing, applying, or using DDI is invited to attend. The program offers 30 presentations and posters, 3 tutorials, and 4 side meetings.

The conference will open on Wednesday, December 2, at 9:00 am and close on Thursday, December 3, at 4:15 pm. Tutorials will take place on Tuesday, December 1, from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. Two side meetings will take place on Friday, December 4 (the DDI Developers Meeting and the International Colectica User Conference).

EDDI15 is organized jointly by DST - Statistics Denmark and the DDA - Danish Data Archive/National Archive of Denmark; GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences; and IDSC of IZA - International Data Service Center of the Institute for the Study of Labor.

Colectica User Conference to be Held in Copenhagen after EDDI

The second International Colectica User Conference (ICUC) will be held December 4 in Copenhagen and hosted by Statistics Denmark:


The theme this year will be "Colectica and DDI in Official Statistics."

ICUC is co-located with the 7th European DDI User Conference to provide four days of exciting content around the DDI metadata standard!

  • Dec 1st: DDI Workshops and Training
  • Dec 2nd: EDDI - Day 1
  • Dec 3rd: EDDI - Day 2
  • Dec 4th: ICUC 2015

Save the Date for NADDI!

NADDI 2016: Document, Discover, and Interoperate (April 6-8th, 2016) University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The North American DDI (NADDI) user conference provides opportunities for all who are actively using or are interested in learning about this community-developed metadata standard for observational research data. This is a conference to come together, connect, and learn from one another. NADDI 2016 will be a three-day conference consisting of hands-on workshops (April 6) and both invited and contributed presentations (April 7 & 8). These events will be of interest to a broad community, including research and data professionals in the social and health sciences and other disciplines, and at all levels of expertise, from novice to expert.

This year's conference theme is 'Document, Discover, and Interoperate'.

In the coming weeks the conference website will be launched, followed by an official call for abstract submissions for those interested in presenting, submitting a poster, or offering a workshop on topics of interest. Given the theme of this year's NADDI conference, we are looking for submissions that will fit into the following four broad categories:

  1. Repository Platforms and Metadata
  2. Metadata Production Systems
  3. Discovery Platform
  4. Interoperability

The hosts of this year's NADDI conference are the Health Research Data Repository (https://uofa.ualberta.ca/nursing/research/research-supports-and-services/hrdr) and Faculty of Nursing Research Office of the University of Alberta.

For immediate inquiries or additional information at this time please contact James Doiron at: jdoiron@ualberta.ca

DDI Annual Report Available

The 2015 DDI Annual Report is now available.

D D I new website
DDI Annual Report

Call for Proposals for RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology

We are soliciting proposals for papers in the following session at the RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology which is taking place in Leicester, England on September 11-15, 2016. The last Conference in 2012 had a session on metadata and was well received.

The scope for the session: "Recent Developments in Metadata Capture, Discovery and Harmonization in the Social Sciences"

This session invites presentations dealing with structured metadata in a standardized form across the survey life-cycle: models, systems, and tools for instrument design, data entry, data processing, maintaining data documentation, and capturing and storing the metadata within a repository for later reuse. There is increased interest in supporting the comparison and harmonization of studies/waves over space and time, and across studies, especially at the level of theoretical concepts, questions, and variables to which structured metadata is well suited.

Capturing metadata as early on in the survey life-cycle as possible in a structured way enhances transparency and quality and enables reproducible research and reuse of survey components for other waves or surveys.

A wide range of different products and services for different users can be generated on the basis of computer-processible metadata like web-based information systems, traditional codebooks, command setups for statistical packages, question banks, and searching and locating of data which assist in the use or interpretation of the data.

Papers are invited on, but not limited to, the following topics: reuse of metadata across space, time, and studies, metadata banks such as for questions and classifications, metadata-driven processes, and metadata-driven information systems, possibly using the major specification for social science metadata, DDI Lifecycle (DDI 3 branch of the Data Documentation Initiative). The session is aimed at survey designers and implementers, data and metadata managers, information system managers of cross-national surveys, metadata experts, and others.

To submit a paper abstract for the RC33 9th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, you should visit: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/sociology/research/rc33-conference. After landing on the homepage, navigate to 'Abstract Submission' and choose the session Jon Johnson and Joachim Wackerow.

Please note that the maximum length of abstracts is 5000 characters, and the deadline for the Call For Papers is Jan 12, 2016.

If you would like to discuss your proposal prior to submission please contact us at either of the email addresses below:

Call for Papers at 5th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference 2016

Session: "The Role and Benefit of Metadata Capture, Discovery and Harmonization in Survey Research"

ACSPRI - Australian Consortium for Social and Political Research Incorporated

Theme: Social science in Australia: 40 years on

Conference dates: Tuesday July 19 - Friday July 22, 2016

Venue: The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Abstract/paper deadline: Friday March 4, 2016 (Abstract acceptance notification will be by Thursday, March 24, 2016. Full paper acceptance/notification will be by Friday April 29, 2016, after a peer review process.)

Registration opens: Friday March 4, 2016 (The early bird registration deadline is May 31, 2016)

Session description

This session invites presentations dealing with structured metadata in a standardized form across the data life-cycle: case studies, systems and tools for, e.g., instrument design, data entry, data processing, maintaining data documentation, and capturing and storing the metadata within a repository for later re-use. Papers are invited on, but not limited to, the following topics: reuse of metadata across space, time, and studies; metadata banks such as for questions and classifications; and metadata-driven information systems, possibly using DDI Lifecycle (Data Documentation Initiative). The session is aimed at survey designers and implementers, data and metadata managers, information system managers of cross-national surveys, metadata experts, and others.

A unique feature of this conference is that it is multi-disciplinary and brings together researchers and methodologists from a range of environments and contexts.

Please note you are not required to submit a full paper for this conference. This is optional.

If you would like to discuss your proposal prior to submission please contact Joachim Wackerow.

Successful DDI Metadata Workshop Held at Dagstuhl

A combined DDI Review and Sprint was held at Schloss Dagstuhl in Wadern, Germany, on October 19-23. Members of the DDI community developing the next-generation DDI specification met with seven experts knowledgeable about other metadata standards:

  • David Barraclough, Chair, SDMX Statistical Working group, OECD
  • Gary Berg-Cross, Research Data Alliance, Chair of Spatial Ontology Community of Practice
  • Michel Dumontier, Associate Professor, Stanford University
  • Martin Forsberg, ECRU Consulting
  • Alejandra Gonzalez-Beltran, Research Lecturer, Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford
  • Daniella Meeker, Director, Clinical Research Informatics, University of Southern California
  • Eric Prud'hommeaux, W3C Working Groups

D D I new website

The experts provided their views on the approach to the model-driven specification and gave freely of their time to offer advice and guidance about improvements and new directions. A formal report about the review will be available by the end of the year.

Progress on the model was made in the Data Description and Data Capture areas as well.

Dates for two Dagstuhl workshops in 2016 have also been confirmed: October 17-24 and October 24-28, 2016.

New DDI4 Production Workflow

The DDI Technical Committee has implemented a new DDI4 production workflow using Bamboo, one of the Atlassian products. Bamboo is a continuous integration and delivery tool that ties automated builds, tests and releases together in a single workflow. The goal is to automate the production of publication packages to improve consistency and better manage the workflow within the Atlassian environment.

There's Something about Mary

A tribute to the first director of the DDI Alliance, Mary Vardigan

By Chuck Humphrey

We have all benefited from Mary's steady leadership as Director of the DDI Alliance. The Alliance emerged from a research-funded project during the 1990's into a community-based standards organization in 2002-2003. Mary has been part of these developments from the earliest days of DDI in 1995 to today's expanded Alliance operations, helping guide DDI through multiple specification and control vocabulary releases. Throughout this time, Mary's leadership has been critical to the success of the Alliance. Codebook and lifecycle specifications of DDI have grown to maturity and a new unified model is being readied. The coordination of the projects behind all of this work has fallen on the Director and it is here that we have witnessed the many gifts that Mary has as a leader.

A standards organization is bit of a Noah's ark, there are two of every kind of specialist. As Director, Mary has worked with a variety of technical specialists in defining, documenting, implementing, promoting, evaluating, and educating others about DDI specifications and products. For a community-based standards body to be productive, the contributors must be committed to the community. Mary's warm and welcoming style has established the perfect mix for the voluntary community making up the Alliance. She also has the ability to nudge people gently forward in completing their work. This is an important skill when working with volunteers.

Above all, Mary is an excellent communicator. She has a background in literature and is an avid reader. If you happen to encounter Mary travelling to a conference or a meeting, she will inevitably be reading a novel. But a scholar of literature or an active reader does not in itself make a communicator. In Mary's case, she has enriched these skills with a talent to describe and explain complexity through clear and straightforward language. She does a wonderful job of synthesizing discussions and boiling content down to its basic components. Furthermore, she assembles this content into concise messages for others to understand.

In the 20-year history of DDI, we have seen many changes in research data management, which is now characterized as a global research data ecosystem. Today, the DDI Alliance finds itself a player in this much larger environment with mounting pressure from diverse stakeholders. Mary has helped navigate the Alliance through this sea change and has been an outstanding diplomat on behalf of our community in this new ecosystem. Toward this end, she has been an active contributor in the Research Data Alliance, bridging our standards organization with research data activities around the globe.

While there is sadness in seeing Mary retire from the directorship, we are very grateful for the years she served as the Alliance's Director. With heartfelt thanks, we wish Mary the very best in the future.