ReDATA makes data open and accessible for researchers and scholars

ReDATA makes data open and accessible for researchers and scholars

By University Libraries
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A University neuroscientist who studies the zebra finch songbird used ReDATA to archive data comparing birdsong and the human voice.
A University neuroscientist who studies the zebra finch songbird used ReDATA to archive data comparing birdsong and the human voice.
Fernando Rios, research data management specialist, University Libraries
Fernando Rios, research data management specialist, University Libraries
Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries
Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries
Chun Ly, research data systems integration specialist, University Libraries
Chun Ly, research data systems integration specialist, University Libraries
Christine Kollen, data curation librarian, University Libraries
Christine Kollen, data curation librarian, University Libraries

A new service created by University Libraries is helping researchers and students amplify their individual or cross-departmental work, while taking the libraries' commitment to the value of "open" to the next level.

ReDATA - a free research data repository that stores and shares datasets produced by University of Arizona researchers - was recently launched by the Office of Digital Innovation & Stewardship.

In addition to addressing the growing number of funding agencies and journal publishers that require open access to underlying research data, the team that developed ReDATA identified an opportunity to tackle a strategic gap on campus.

"We wanted to increase the University's capacity to steward and preserve research data for the long term, as well as make nontraditional scholarship publicly available," said Fernando Rios, research data management specialist at University Libraries. "Unlike many third-party repositories, we provide the quality control that improves the discoverability and reusability of your data, while helping you be in compliance with University data sharing and retention policies."

The service, which aligns with University Libraries' mission to reduce barriers to accessing and sharing information, also allows researchers to receive credit and track the impact of their work. The platform looks at embedded download and citation counts, as well as altmetrics, which measure all of the mentions tracked for an individual research output. 

Traditional scholarly outputs include journal articles, books, conference proceedings and monographs. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in expectations from the research community to provide supporting data and software alongside the original publication.

ReDATA accepts and archives all types of data, including spreadsheets, binary files, software and scripts, audiovisual content, and presentations.

"The importance of making research data openly accessible has been vividly illustrated by the need for global solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic," said Shan Sutton, dean of University Libraries. "Launching ReDATA is a significant step forward in how University Libraries partners with researchers here to ensure the data they generate can empower worldwide research communities to make new discoveries and find solutions to our common challenges."

The ReDATA team spent the first year implementing the data repository, which involved working with a variety of campus collaborators.

"We worked with a small group of researchers as early adopters in a closed beta release, and developed workflows and policies as well," said Chun Ly, research data systems integration specialist. "We are also partnering withUniversity Information Technology Services Research Computing and CyVerse to ultimately integrate our storage systems, while Research, Innovation & Impact helped us to spread the word about ReDATA to researchers throughout the University." 

Julie Miller, an assistant professor and neuroscientist in the Neuroscience Graduate Interdisciplinary Program, was one of the early adopters. Miller, who studies the zebra finch songbird, used ReDATA to archive data comparing birdsong and the human voice and is seeing results.

"ReDATA has increased the international exposure to my research," said Miller. "I even discovered scientists and information technology specialists highlighting it on social media platforms all the way in the United Kingdom."

ReDATA is intended to complement, not replace, third-party repositories. In addition to sharing critical information quickly and building more ties with RII, there are other benefits for University researchers and students who use the free service.

"Publishing in ReDATA provides you with a digital object identifier for your data," explained Christine Kollen, data curation librarian. "We also help you comply with data sharing requirements from funders and publishers, as well as University of Arizona-specific data retention and data privacy requirements."

Another researcher's work has garnered noteworthy attention due to the repository.

Taylor Edwards, a clinical development scientist at the University of Arizona Genetics Core for Clinical Services, surveyed researchers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to understand the challenges they face. "I want to ensure that my research has a broad impact and is publicly accessible," Edwards said.

"ReDATA has helped facilitate this with an easy-to-use process that is not cost-prohibitive."

Funding for ReDATA was provided by the Provost's Investment Fund.

Learn more about ReDATA in this two-minute video.

A version of this story originally appeared on the University Libraries website.

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