DataCite Use Cases Around the World: DataFirst

https://doi.org/10.5438/4rbk-a902

DataCite use cases around the world: Welcome to our new blog series shining a spotlight on how research institutions integrate DataCite infrastructure into their systems and workflows. Join us as we explore real-world examples, best practices, and the impact of the DataCite community.

Lynn Woolfrey manages the research data service at DataFirst at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Lynn also serves on the DataCite Executive Board. In this conversation, she discusses how DataFirst uses DataCite infrastructure. 

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What were the reasons at your institution for joining DataCite as a member?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
DataFirst was established in 2001 and our data repository went online in 2009. We have always tried to comply with international data repository standards and one sure way was to apply for international certification for our repository. We received the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) in 2014 and, when the DSA and World Data System accreditations merged into the CoreTrustSeal (CTS) certification, we wanted to ensure we could be certified as fully compliant under this stricter award. The CTS encourages the use of persistent identifiers (PIDs) so we wanted Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for the 500+ datasets we share publicly. We committed to our Governing Board to achieve this by 2017. After trying to obtain DOIs through a local allocation agency that never got off the ground, in 2017 I requested to join DataCite directly. Being able to join DataCite without going through a local allocation agency meant we did not have to wait for a local institution to be ready to provide DOIs (this will be relevant for other potential members in regions with resource-constrained institutions). Plus the fee structure introduced in 2017 made a big difference, as my university experienced financial constraints in 2017 and we received very little funding support that year.

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
How are  DataCite services currently used at your institution?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
We mainly use the DataCite Fabrica for registering DOIs for the datasets we share. However,  I have recently accessed training and support through DataCite’s webinars and will now make participation in these webinars a component of my staff training.

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What were the most important steps in integrating DataCite infrastructure into your systems/workflows?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
Our online data dissemination platform has a feature that allows the linking of works that cite our data. These are displayed on the landing page for each dataset. Once we were able to register DOIs for these citations, researchers could use the DOIs in the research they publish based on our data. We also notice that researchers contact us to deposit data often when journal editors request a DOI for the underlying data to ensure the data is shared. So having access to the DataCite infrastructure has encouraged data deposits with us, increasingly from emerging young African researchers 

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What challenges did you face during the implementation and how did you address them?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
We were unfamiliar with the Fabrica interface and requested assistance from DataCite technical staff numerous times while learning how to use the infrastructure. The DataCite staff were always very helpful. The DataCite webinars are also informative and an easy way to learn.

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What kind of outreach, communication, and training did you do for staff and researchers at your organization before, during, and after adopting DataCite services? What worked, what didn’t?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
DataFirst Data Services staff were trained in the use of the Fabrica platform to mint DOIs during metadata management training sessions. They regularly mint DOIs and also are informed by me of any changes to Fabrica and are encouraged to attend the very useful DataCite Webinars. I have attended a few webinars to keep up-to-date with any changes to DataCite infrastructure and services. Staff have to use the infrastructure for their work. On the other hand, researchers are less receptive to training outside their core tasks because of time constraints. We therefore educate them when they have specific questions when we assist them with DOIs for their journal submissions. We find that is when they are most receptive to learning about citation management. We also post citation information for researchers on our website.

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What impact has DataCite adoption had internally?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
Working with expert organisations in our field helps with professional development of staff. The Directors of the ICPSR and UK Data Service are on our Governing Board and working with them and professional associations like IASSIST and expert organisations like DataCite enables us to keep up with international data curation standards and best practices.

A headshot of Gabi Mejias.

Gabi Mejias:
What advice do you have for other institutions planning to adopt DataCite infrastructure?

A headshot of Lynn Woolfrey

Lynn Woolfrey:
Cost is a big issue in LMICs but I would assure would-be adopters in my region that the cost of DataCite membership is worth the returns, in terms of compliance with curation standards, and professional support. I would also encourage them to ensure their citation initiatives are sustained by sourcing or allocating dedicated funding for ongoing DataCite membership. African repositories often have financial support which is not sustained, e.g. from UN agencies, and their compliance initiatives lose momentum as a result. They could also do well to build curation skills to ensure ongoing integration of DataCite’s infrastructure with that of their institutions.

Gabriela Mejias
Community Manager at DataCite | Blog posts