Renear delivers keynote address at NISO Forum

Allen Renear
Allen Renear, Professor and Dean

GSLIS Professor and Interim Dean Allen Renear will deliver the opening keynote address at the National Information Standards Organization (NISO) Forum, Tracking it Back to the Source: Managing and Citing Research Data which takes place on September 24, 2012, in Denver, Colorado.

The forum will examine challenges posed by the exponential rise of data creation across nearly all scholarly disciplines. Renear’s talk, “The Many and the One: BCE Themes in 21st Century Data Curation,” will focus on the fundamental issues facing data curation in the digital age and the practical measures, specifically those being developed by the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS), that can be used to address these challenges. 


Two scientists can be using "the same data" even though the computer files involved appear to be quite different.  This is familiar enough, and for the most part, in small communities with shared practices and familiar datasets, raises few problems. But these informal understandings do not scale to 21st century data curation. To get full value from cyberinfrastructure we must support huge quantities of heterogeneous data developed by diverse communities and used by diverse communities—often with widely varying methods, tools, and purposes. To accomplish this our informal practices and understandings must be replaced, or at least supplemented, by a shared framework of standard terminology for describing complex cascades of representational levels and relationships. Fundamental problems in data curation—and in particular problems involving provenance, identifiers, and data citation—cannot be fully resolved without such a framework. Although the deepest problems here have ancient origins, useful practical measures are now within reach. Some recent work toward this end that is being carried out at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be described.

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