The answer is Identifiers. AARNet is involved in activities in both the eResearch and GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) communities that involve connecting identifiers in order to unlock significant opportunities for enabling research collaboration and data sharing across Australia and internationally, and, building rich discovery layers to Australia’s cultural data.
Identifiers are an important component in research infrastructure, in the data and technology layers, and the common denominator across a range of communities building identifiers into research infrastructure is where identifiers identify people.
Identifiers for people have a social property i.e. the data about a person that is associated with that identifier embedded into data infrastructure, and, a functional property in enabling access (authorisation and authentication) to tools and technical infrastructure.
Connecting identifiers and research infrastructure
The Australian eResearch community is exploring new terrain that involves a national (and social) agreement about how to manage national identifiers (linked data) in the development of connected national research infrastructure. AARNet is a partner, along with the Australian Access Federation, and the three NCRIS eResearch capability programs on the Data Lifecycle Framework project (led by the Research Data Services program).
The goal of the Data Lifecycle Framework is to build more accessibility into national research infrastructure:
“to address the complexity of digital research by facilitating a connective framework for institutions and researchers to make the best use of existing national, state-based, local, and commercial eResearch tools and improve data discovery, storage and reuse where possible”
Research Activity Identifier
One of those enabling technologies is the Research Activity Identifier (RAiD). The RAiD is a record about research projects and activities and participants, and critically, includes two types of unique identifier. An identifier about the research activity and the identifiers of participants (a mix of researchers and research support specialists) are associated so that those participants can get access to data storage, and in the case of AARNet, to the group drives in CloudStor. The Australian National Data Service outlines three different global identifier systems that aid in identifying researchers: ORCID, VIAF and ISNI.
Linked Open Data Challenges
The international LODLAM (Linked Open Data for Libraries, Archives, Museums) community is exploring what happens when linked open data (LOD) is published about people from ancient times right through to contemporary artists and authors of scholarly research.
A theme of the 2017 LODLAM Summit held 28-29 June in Venice, Italy attended by 100 international delegates was to consider “data about people” as a key challenge for custodians of authority information e.g. name authority files maintained by national libraries or the Getty Union List of Artists Names, and a question for humanities researchers working with LOD and any aspect of human culture (and the use of these global identifier systems).
AARNet was a Summit sponsor and contributed to the community by facilitating the two-day event and a post-Summit half-day workshop on “data about people”. Discussions at the workshop covered: the use of the global identifier system ISNI at the British Library (and the various work production communities e.g. book and music publishers), led by Andrew McEwan; the opportunity to link ORCID and VIAF identities to ULAN, led by Tom Demeranville; and the Institute of Museum and Library Studies funded project to investigate issues concerning local name authorities in the United States, led by Dean Krafft from Cornell University and Phil Schreur from Stanford University.
Author: Ingrid Mason, AARNet eResearch Deployment Strategist