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Executive Director's Note

We are happy to announce the DDI 4 Prototype release and look forward to community testing and feedback! The first story in this issue provides more details about the release, including links to the specification and use cases, and instructions for commenting.

Over 100 individuals, including many from the Alliance's member organizations, have contributed to the development of the DDI 4 Prototype. We are sincerely thankful for their many, many contributions.

Jared Lyle,
DDI Alliance, lyle@umich.edu

In This Issue

Volume XVI, Number 2, October 2018

DDI 4 Prototype Release

In December 2017, we provided an update about development of DDI work products to express continued support for our stable work products -- including DDI-Codebook (DDI 2) and DDI-Lifecycle (DDI 3) -- and to communicate a mid-2018 prototype release of a new work product called DDI 4.

We're happy to announce the prototype release of DDI 4. This preliminary version is not intended for production but provides an opportunity to test and provide feedback on how the DDI 4 model describes and documents some basic research material, such as a dataset, an instrument, and a codebook.

DDI 4 is based on an information model that can be expressed in different technologies, including standard RDF vocabularies and XML structures. This form of model-based standard is a best practice in the standardization world, and several other domains have used this approach for years to structure their domain-specific standards. The development of DDI 4 will enable the standard to stay abreast of current technological changes and guarantee alignment across different technology implementations. More details about the history and origin of DDI 4 can be found on the "Work Products of the DDI Alliance" web page.

We look forward to the DDI community testing this prototype release and providing constructive feedback on its future development. View links to the specification and use cases, as well as instructions for comment.

We would love to have as much feedback as possible for our next development meeting on November 26th, but the comment period will extend beyond that. We hope to hear from you! Please feel free to contact ddisecretariat@umich.edu with questions.

Invitation to Participate in a Joint Technical Committee and DDI 4 Development Sprint

The entire DDI community is invited to participate in a joint Technical Committee and DDI 4 Development sprint to be held at DIW Berlin, November 26-30, 2018. This a great opportunity to contribute to the DDI standard, even if you are unable to attend all five days.

The work will fall into the following two, concurrent tracks with exchanges and joint sessions planned where appropriate and as needed:

DDI Roadmap

  • Finalization of 3.3 based on review
  • Prepare COGS to accept 3.3 schema content and generate output
  • Evaluate differences between 3.3 and output from COGS
  • Transition paths between versions across DDI

DDI 4 Moving Forward Project

  • High-level and conceptual discussion on the direction of DDI 4 regarding content and modeling
  • Review of post-prototype issues and prototype public release feedback
  • Plans for new production framework (COGS)
  • Creation of an iteration cycle regarding modeling, representations, and prototype software implementation to ensure a robust specification on all of these levels.
  • Creation of validation suites on all of these levels and integration into the production framework
  • Structured documentation

Please let Kelly Chatain (kchatain@umich.edu) know if you are interested in joining the sprint. Note that there is a limited amount of funding available for the meeting.

New Members!

The DDI Alliance recently welcomed Aristotle Cloud Services (Sam Spencer, representative) as an Associate Member of the Alliance!

Aristotle Cloud Services

DDI Alliance on Twitter

The DDI Alliance is now on Twitter! Follow us.

DDI Alliance Twitter Account

Annual Meetings Held in Montreal, Canada

The DDI Alliance Annual Meeting of Member Representatives and the Meeting of the Scientific Board were held on May 28th in Montreal, Canada in advance of the IASSIST 2018 conference). The Annual Meeting of Member Representatives included a State of the Alliance presentation by Steve McEachern (Chair of the Executive Board), as well as reports from the Marketing group and the Technical Committee. The Meeting of the Scientific Board included a presentation by Joachim Wackerow (Chair of the Scientific Board) about the direction and goals for the Scientific Board in the next year. Both meetings also extensively discussed the proposed DDI Strategic Plan.

DDI Alliance Annual Meetings 2018

Save the Date: 2019 Annual Meetings of Member Representatives

The DDI Executive Board recently selected the date for the next Annual Meeting of Member Representatives. The meeting will be held on Saturday, 1 June 2019, in Sydney, Australia (directly after the IASSIST Annual Conference, 27-31 May 2019, also to be held in Sydney).

The Annual Meeting of Member Representatives provides a forum for member discussion and feedback. Please save the date. We look forward to seeing many member representatives at the meeting.

DDI Alliance Annual Meetings 2019

Public Review of DDI 3.3

In June, the Alliance announced the Public Review of DDI 3.3. This version of the DDI specification includes important updates and new content, including:

  • Classification management (based on GSIM/Neuchatel)
  • Non-survey data collection (Measurements)
  • Sampling
  • Weighting
  • Questionnaire Design
  • Support for DDI as a Property Graph
  • Quality Statement improvements (useful for Eurostat reporting)

Additionally, DDI 3.3 has a formal model now, so a detailed changelog can be generated between DDI 3.2 and 3.3.

View links to the specification. Thanks to those who submitted comments.

10th Annual European DDI User Conference (EDDI18)


The 10th Annual European DDI User Conference (EDDI18) will be held December 4-5, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. The draft program and registration information are available on the conference website.

The conference will be opened by the keynote speech on "Making Fair Data a Reality... and the Challenges of Interoperability and Reusability" by Simon Hodson (Executive Director of CODATA, the Committee on Data of the International Council for Science), and will include 26 presentations, 2 tutorials, posters, discussion sessions, and a side meeting. The deadline for the early booking conference fee is October 25.

EDDI18 is organized jointly by SOEP - The German Socio-Economic Panel, GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and IDSC of IZA - International Data Service Center of the Institute for the Study of Labor.

NADDI Conference Held in Washington, D.C.

NADDI 2018

NADDI 2018, the 6th Annual North American DDI User Conference, took place April 4-6, 2018, in Washington, D.C. The conference was hosted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and was attended by nearly 90 participants.

The conference program included 25 presentations, 5 posters, and 2 workshops, and opened with a plenary panel on the importance of open standards in federal statistics and research. Plenary panelists included: John Abowd, Associate Director for Research and Methodology & Chief Scientist, U.S. Census Bureau, and Edmund Ezra Day Professor of Economics, Cornell University; Robert M. Groves, Executive Vice President and Provost, Georgetown University, and Director, U.S. Census Bureau (2009-2012); and John H. Thompson, Executive Director, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS), Director, U.S. Census Bureau (2013-2017), and CEO, NORC at the University of Chicago (2008-2013). Margaret Levenstein, Director of the Inter-university Consortium of Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan, moderated the panel.

In their remarks, the plenary panelists emphasized the increased demand for metadata standards and trained metadata specialists. "We are moving into a world of data that is much more complicated than the old world. Your knowledge is needed....This is an era of unprecedented opportunity for implementation of standards," noted Dr. Groves.

NADDI 2018 presentations are available on Zenodo.

Save the Date: 2019 NADDI Conference

NADDI 2019

We are pleased to announce that the 2019 North American Data Documentation Initiative Conference (NADDI) will be hosted by Statistics Canada in Ottawa, Canada on April 24-26, 2019.

The Call for Papers will be published shortly and further details will be added to the Conference web site over the coming months.

Aimed at individuals working in and around data and metadata, NADDI 2019 seeks submissions of presentations and posters that highlight the use of DDI and other metadata standards within research projects, official statistics, survey operations, academic libraries, and data archives.

Meeting Report: Washington, D.C. Working Meeting

A 3-day working meeting was held in Washington, D.C. April 2-4, 2018 prior to the North American DDI conference. The meeting, hosted at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, focused on the documentation for the DDI 4 Prototype.

Documentation and outcomes are on the meeting wiki page.

Workshop Report: Train-the-Trainer Workshop

Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz Center for Informatics, 24 - 28 September 2018, Wadern, Germany

A workshop to increase training capacity on DDI was hosted at the internationally renowned computer science institute at Schloss Dagstuhl in Germany and organized by Joachim Wackerow (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences). The workshop instructors were Jon Johnson, Dan Smith, and Wendy Thomas, with Arofan Gregory as a volunteer. The DDI Alliance paid the GESIS workshop fees for all participants.

Train-the-Trainer Workshop

The workshop drew 18 participants from 16 organizations representing 11 countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Malawi, Norway, Romania, Sweden, UK, and the United States.

The participants worked through existing training material to build modular training materials. Participants were very motivated and worked often in working groups on specific topics. The resulting slide decks cover core areas of DDI and are, as far as possible, version-agnostic.

All workshop participants promise to conduct a DDI training within the next year.

Wiki site of the workshop

View the output documents

A subset of the workshop participants have volunteered to continue developing the training materials. The goals are to share the reusable materials with the new trainers and promote these materials on the DDI Alliance website for further reuse and self-guided training.

Workshop Report: "Interoperability of Metadata Standards in Cross-Domain Science, Health, and Social Science Applications"

Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz Center for Informatics, 1 - 5 October 2018, Wadern, Germany

A workshop on the practical application of computer science to enable data sharing and data interoperability across disciplinary boundaries was hosted at the internationally renowned computer science institute at Schloss Dagstuhl in Germany. The event was sponsored by CODATA (the Committee on Data of the International Science Council), and the Data Documentation Initiative Alliance (DDI), and subsidized by Dagstuhl; it was organized by Simon Cox (CSIRO Australia and W3C Dataset Exchange Working Group), Simon Hodson (CODATA), Steven McEachern (Australian National University and DDI Alliance), Joachim Wackerow (GESIS - Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences and DDI Alliance). The workshop brought together 24 participants from many different domains. These included representatives of a number of metadata specifications, as well as researchers involved in pilot projects currently being pursued as part of the ISC and CODATA Data Integration Initiative. A duration of 5 days, and the relative isolation and unique dynamics of Dagstuhl, encourages intense involvement on the part of all participants (as described on the DDI site here).

The workshop examined how modern web-friendly computer science techniques and standards could better enable data-sharing in the context of the Data Integration Initiative pilots. These are major cross-disciplinary data integration projects to advance solutions for three important global challenges: infectious disease outbreaks, resilient cities, and disaster risk reduction. The infectious disease pilot builds on work by the Infectious Diseases Data Observatory (IDDO) to support both research and humanitarian efforts, with Ebola used as the primary example for discussion. The resilient cities pilot focuses on the work in Medellìn, Columbia, in partnership with Resilience Brokers. Examples involved air quality measurement, location of hospitals, and geo-spatial data. The disaster risk reduction pilot, led by Public Health England in partnership with the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk is looking at how data could support the Sendai Framework, especially in cases where the SDG indicators would not be sufficient. Different approaches for obtaining data both from within and from outside the realm of official statistics were explored, with an emphasis on research data. In each case, data integration presented significant challenges.

Metadata standards are a part of the computer science landscape which can facilitate the discovery of existing datasets, and their integration and use within a particular scenario. Representatives of many of these standards were present, helping to understand the data integration challenges faced by each of the projects. These standards included many of the W3C Linked Data vocabularies (DCAT, SSN, Data Cube, PROV-O, etc.), DDI, HL7 FHIR, CDISC, DATS, ISO 19115, EML and several others.[i] Some of these standards are focused on the data within a particular discipline or domain. Others are more general in scope. The workshop examined the relationships between these standards in the context of their real-world application (the pilot projects). This required an understanding of the granularity of the metadata being expressed by each standard (at the level of a study or dataset, at the variable and observation level, etc.

Much of the activity in the workshop was in small working groups composed of both business experts involved in the pilot projects, and experts in the relevant technology and domain standards. Some additional technical topics which arose during the exploration of the pilot projects were also addressed separately by small teams of the appropriate experts.

The workshop was extremely productive, with immediately producing outlines of working papers relating to each of the pilot projects. An article will also be produced describing the overall goals of the effort and the relationship of various standards and technology approaches to the cross-disciplinary data integration projects. The intention is that these will be published in peer-reviewed journals appropriate to their content. In addition, it is anticipated one specific technical output was initiated - for example, a DCAT profile to support granular description of data in online catalogues. The outputs of the workshop will be presented at the upcoming SciDataCon conference (at the 2nd International Data Week organized by CODATA together with the Research Data Alliance and the World Data System) in Gaborone, Botswana in early November of 2018. Further collaborative work between CODATA, the DDI Alliance, and other interested organizations is anticipated in the future, including more intense, focused workshops of this kind.[ii]

[i] A list of metadata specifications for the workshop is available at the workshop site.
[ii] A list of recent CODATA and DDI Workshops on relevant topics is available at the workshop site.

DDI Referenced in the Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT)

The W3C is revising the Data Catalog Vocabulary (DCAT), which facilitates interoperability between data catalogs published on the Web. DDI is referenced as a related vocabulary. Thanks to INSEE for submitting comments on the Alliance's behalf as part of the public review.

DDI articles in the latest issue of the IASSIST Quarterly

Two articles in the latest issue of the IASSIST Quarterly (Vol 42 No 2 (2018)) discuss DDI. "Flexible DDI Storage," the winner of the IASSIST 2017 conference paper competition, describes "a way to model the binding of DDI to applications in a way that it works independent of most version changes and interpretative differences in a standard like DDI without continuous reimplementation." The other article, "Elaborating a Crosswalk Between Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) and Encoded Archival Description (EAD) for an Emerging Data Archive Service Provider," describes a DDI-to-EAD crosswalk at the State Archives of Belgium.