Some of the training centre team spent last week in Washington DC at the 38th IASSIST conference. We travelled to introduce the training centre to the IASSIST crowd with a poster and a presentation of the article we just published in IASSIST Quarterly, oh, and also to introduce ourselves as hosts of next year’s “BEST IASSIST EVER!”. More on that in time.
IASSIST conferences tend to be north American affairs, so it is interesting for us as Europeans to meet up and share experiences. What follows is just some thoughts on those experiences. First, the American field tends to be much more library science orientated. Institutional libraries tend to be the locus of archiving and research data management support in the US and Canada, compared to Europe with our tradition of dedicated national archives and national funding bodies. So, we are dealing with the same challenges but from different perspectives. Everyone in our team is coming from a research background, indeed, they still are active researchers. So, as a consequence, we tend to feel more comfortable with researcher challenges rather than infrastructure issues or metadata standards. It was good to see a couple of north American researchers at IASSIST entering the world of RDM. I enjoyed Carly Strasser’s presentation on data management, coming from a marine biology background and encountering many of the same ignorances and challenges that we find in social sciences (although my sense is to disagree with her statement that social scientists are further along in data management practice than natural scientists, I thought it was the other way around!). The point is that independently we are finding similar problems and hopefully can cooperate and discuss on common solutions.
The other great benefit of attending IASSIST is to hear research presented on the state of archiving and data management. For example, on data citation and persistent identifiers – things we can do to directly improve the life of researchers and to give them a good incentive to share their data. The session we presented in, on the data professional, was a useful insight into the growth in our field via Jen Green and Joel Herndon and exactly how we see ourselves and are seen in the job market and the results of investigations into training needs. Susan Rathbun-Grubb and Ryan Womack gave separate indications of where we need to go in substantiating needs and then delivering effective training.
Anyway, IASSIST is a great opportunity to bridge the divides across geography and disciplines. We hope to continue the tradition next year in Cologne, albeit in the words of the closing song, with a chance to “drink a better beer”.