Cloud-based storage for research data
FEBRUARY 2011 – SEPTEMBER 2011
The new digital technologies boosted the generation of scientific data, on one hand, due to the digital storage capacity, on the other, due to the evolution of methods and research tools. Sharing scientific data is essential in the discovery process and represents the dominant means, by which researchers can earn credits for their work. Several entities, such as universities and research communities, provide some infrastructures and services to improve data sharing and curation. However, the data deposit process on these insfrastructures is complex and requires the joint effort of curators and researchers, whereby much of the generated research data doesn’t reach these repositories.
The purpose of this work is to promote the sharing of research data in the University of Porto, bringing the researchers closer to the data curation process. This dissertation proposes a different approach to data curation, encouraging the participation of researchers in collaborative management of their research data. The adoption of the proposed methods will, in the future, accelerate and automate the submission and curation process into the University of Porto’s repository. According to the results of an audit conducted at University of Porto in order to survey the researcher’s practices in the management of their data, it was verified that some researchers manage and share their research data through cloud storage applications like Dropbox.
The proposed solution, UPBox, is a service that supports the collaborative management of research data during the research process, keeping researchers in control of their data sets. This cloud storage service allows the researcher to annotate their data and, when appropriate, submit them for curation in order to be available in the University of Porto’s repository. This simple and familiar platform works as a proxy between the researcher and the data repository, accelerating the submission process into the repository. UPBox is a web application that allows the creation of data workspaces structured in directories and sharing them with other researchers. It is integrated with an annotation system, devoloped in a parallel project, DataNotes, which enables the annotation of files and directories. To validate the acceptance of the solution, a group of researchers were requested to conduct a usability test. The test has evaluated the available features, identified improvements and new features and provided insight on the usefulness of the the developed prototype.