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Monday, February 6, 2012

Data Sharing - the MRC Data Support Service and Research Data Gateway

Whilst still working on an analysis of  research funders' policies with regard to data sharing we ought to update you on the progress made by the MRC on their Data Support Service. We posted on this in May 2011 and certainly  by late last year had not heard anything further but are now delighted to see that the MRC have a few new pages indicating that phase II ( "develop[ing] a prototype online gateway for the discovery of MRC-funded population and patient studies and their variables with a Directory of MRC population cohort datasets")  has completed and that phase III is underway about which you can read more on their site from whence these bullet points:

  • [Phase III is] Developing policy guidance for population and patient studies on sharing of research data and on data management planning, with expert input and in line with policies of other funder to ensure harmonised principles
  • Launching the prototype MRC Research Data Gateway to facilitate the discovery of research data, metadata and documentation
  • Planning and developing a sustainable MRC Research Data Gatewayand Directory of Population and Patient Research Data, with data management toolkit to support data sharing
  • Engaging further cohort studies to contribute metadata to the Directory of Population and Patient Research Data
  • Growing a data managers network with a programme of value-adding activities, to enable the preceding objectives

We're particularly interested in the Research Data Gateway given our recent experience developing resource discovery portals (e.g. ONIX). The information available for each study accessible through the gateway is given below - we're not sure how to interpret 'Variable' and can't help but reflect on the lost opportunity of the now non-current DoCDat catalogue of clinical databases which provided very rich metadata on its resources including qualitative analyses - for more info on that see our blog post:

  • Study: a programme of research whereby data from and about individuals representing a population group are collected and analysed
  • Time period: a wave, sweep, time period or time point within a longitudinal study
  • Data collection event: a survey, screening, interview series or clinic, being the event through which research data were collected; there can be various data collection events within a phase
  • Variable: each data variable belongs to a particular study, phase and data collection event
  • Contact: point of contact for a study
  • Resource: an information item for a study, e.g. a questionnaire form, report, etc.

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