New book exploring provenance authored by iSchool PhD student, alumni

Michael Gryk
Michael Gryk

Documenting the Future: Navigating Provenance Metadata Standards, a new book authored by PhD student Michael Gryk and alumni Rhiannon Bettivia (PhD '16) and Jessica Yi-Yun Cheng (PhD '22), explores provenance, which is the study and documentation of how something has come to be. Provenance documentation is critical for authenticity, trustworthiness, and reproducibility in science. The challenge for researchers is how to identify which pieces of provenance are important versus which are extraneous as well as how to document this information. Documenting the Future, recently published by Springer, came about as the result of a series of workshops that the authors have given on the topic.

"Our first workshop, supported by the [iSchool's] Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship, took place in February 2020 at the International Digital Curation Conference in Dublin, Ireland. When the pandemic hit, conferences went virtual, and we adapted our workshop to a virtual environment and offered virtual workshops at the 2020 ASIS&T [Association for Information Science and Technology] meeting and 2021 iConference," said Gryk.

It was during the 2020 ASIS&T meeting that Gary Marchionini, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor and dean of the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina, asked Gryk, Bettivia, and Cheng to write up their workshop in book form for his series on Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services. In Documenting the Future, the authors describe three provenance standards and their domains, including W3C PROV (web content), ProvONE (computational workflows), and PREMIS (digital preservation).

"These standards are important for practitioners in library and information science, but it isn't always obvious to identify the benefits of one standard over another or how to implement them for specific materials in archives, libraries and museums," said Gryk, who gravitated to PREMIS rather than PROV for his research, after taking Bettivia's courses on digital preservation and metadata at the iSchool.

Gryk's research interests include scientific data management, computational reproducibility, data curation, workflows and provenance, and information organization, representation, and access. He holds a PhD in biophysics from Stanford University.

Bettivia is an assistant professor in the School of Library and Information Science at Simmons University, and Cheng is an assistant professor in the School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University.

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