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Where are Drexel research data?

February 7, 2019

In keeping with the tradition of acknowledging the contributions to scholarship by Drexel authors, the Libraries will recognize scholars who deposited research outputs into Open Access data repositories during the upcoming 2019 Celebrating Drexel Authors Event.

Now in its 7th year, the Celebrating Drexel Authors Event has traditionally recognized faculty, staff and students who authored or edited complete monographs. But as the scholarly communications landscape has changed, the Libraries has extended its definition of “authors.” 

The Libraries first took steps to recognize authors of journal articles and conference proceedings at its 2017 annual authors event, and the program continues to evolve from year to year. This year, the 2019 event will recognize book authors, book editors, authors of journal articles and conference papers and also a new set of authors—"data authors.”

This task of recognizing “data authors” is not without its challenges, particularly given that the movement to deposit research outputs in Open Access repositories is still young.  

For one, there are no universally accepted standards or processes in place for sharing research data, and there is no universally accepted index structure. Funders, publishers, universities, scholarly societies and discipline-specific organizations launch new data repositories every week, making it difficult to keep up with all the options available to researchers. There are a handful of research data discovery tools, including Google’s beta ‘Dataset’ tool, that help discover shared data, but is not clear what the tool uses for its sources.

So how do we find Drexel-generated research data?

The answer, as of January 2019 at least, is to do a lot of searching in many repositories.

To start, Libraries’ staff identified the largest and most reputable repositories and launched searches there. We hit a few potholes along the way. Many repositories do not require or index the institutional affiliations of depositing researchers, and it is impossible to search the name of every potential Drexel researcher in each repository.

What’s more, the recent 30+ day shutdown of some US Federal Government departments resulted in repositories hosted by the government either to be inaccessible or outdated due to processing backlogs. Finally, it simply isn’t possible to search every repository out there.

Despite these challenges, we uncovered several Drexel authors who deposited data in a repository in 2018, and we look forward to recognizing these authors at the Celebrating Drexel Authors event on February 18. If you want to know more, you’ll have to attend! Register online or contact for more information.