The Download: Feature Articles
Digital Repository Services for Researchers
By Keith Allison | August 9, 2022
A Place for Your Digital Stuff
Comedian George Carlin once joked about the importance of having a place to keep your stuff. In the digital domain, finding a place for your stuff can be complicated, depending on what kind of stuff you have. Depending on the nature of the research project, the stuff could be anything from documents (scanned and natively digital), images, audio and video, and even artifacts created with legacy technology such as Adobe Flash and Shockwave. You need a place for that stuff, and not all of that stuff is easily placed.
NYU’s commitment to growth as a research university, coupled with the growing data needs in the research activities, drives the need to provide stronger support for storing, sharing, and managing digital assets within the research data lifecycle. To help address researchers' complex storage needs, the NYU Libraries and NYU IT partnered to establish the Digital Repository Services for Researchers (DRSR). Taking a holistic view of the research data lifecycle, DRSR provides a shared portfolio of research-related storage services that can interact with one another based on the needs of an individual researcher throughout the research lifecycle.
The Research Data Lifecycle and a Unified Digital Repository Ecosystem
In order to better understand and assist NYU's community of researchers, the Libraries and IT structure their support around a research data lifecycle: Create, Process, Analyze, Preserve, Publish, and Reuse.
Often, services for storing, managing, and sharing files have been developed separately. This can make it difficult for a researcher to share files with colleagues, move files between services or between her department server and central services, cite and publish files, and make files available for search and discovery because one must navigate through the options and learn to understand how to use each service separately. Digital Repository Services for Researchers seeks to remedy this by making it easier for services to "communicate" with one another, and by providing consultation and recommendations on selecting and using the tools available.
Several services and teams comprise the digital repository ecosystem and work in partnership to inform and guide researchers through the service options.
- Research Workspace: centrally-housed storage that can be mounted locally, enabling users to access and share large data sets from their own computers as well as lab workstations.
- Faculty Digital Archive (FDA): a highly visible repository of NYU scholarship, which faculty, researchers and academic departments use to share and archive scholarly work in a wide range of digital formats.
- Spatial Data Repository (SDR): stores and provides access to spatial data. It includes a GIS website outlining services and linking to spatial data resources in the collection.
- RSTAR preservation repository: digital preservation storage and activities for long-term stewardship of library-curated materials.
- HPC Research Project Space: provides a user-specified amount of persistent storage and number of inodes for data related to computing work carried out on the HPC clusters.
- Data Services: supports quantitative, qualitative, and geographical research and provides access to specialty software for statistical analysis, geographic information systems (GIS), and qualitative data analysis, as well as training, support and individual consultations.
- Digital Scholarship Services: supports NYU faculty and students incorporate digital scholarship tools and methods into their research and teaching, including one-on-one consultations, web hosting, data management, digital publishing, copyright and fair use advisement, and workshops and training.
Services for the Needs of Today and Tomorrow
Digital Repository Services for Researchers will build from these foundational services to create a robust, evolving ecosystem of services with an eye toward both current and emerging needs. These include:
- Data sharing requirements for grant funding
- Storing, sharing, and efficiently moving and sharing large amounts of data and large data sets
- Reliable, secure backup
- Important upgrades for existing repository services, such as the Faculty Digital Archive and Spatial Data Repository, which need to be updated to more effectively meet expanding requirements for preserving and sharing digital content.
- Growth in Libraries’ digital collecting and the need to provide researchers with fast, easy-to-use access to digital materials
The Human Dynamic
One final key aspect of Digital Repository Services for Researchers is the people behind it. With so many services to choose from, and with the number of tools researchers are increasingly obligated to be familiar with, it's not a great experience to find oneself tossed into the digital sea without a compass. This is why one of the most important parts of the entire DRSR concept is a team of dedicated, knowledgeable people who can guide researchers through the process of picking and learning to use the tools within the kit.
Since the DRSR effort was launched, the professional staff in support of research has expanded and will continue to do so. As the needs of researchers continue to evolve, and the tools potentially at their disposal expand, the DRSR team is there to help keep pace with the technology landscape and ensure that, when it comes to the digital artifacts of scholarship, NYU researchers always have a place for their stuff.