The Annual RDAP Summit wouldn’t be possible without our generous sponsors. This year we’ve asked each organization sponsoring at the contributor level or higher to introduce one (or two) of their staff members to the RDAP Community through a short interview. Take a moment to get to know some of the faces you’ll see at this year’s summit.
Today’s interviewee is Alan Hyndman, marketing director at Figshare.
Q: Who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Alan Hyndman, I’m the marketing director at Figshare and have worked here for 6 years. Figshare is an ‘all in one repository’ for papers, data and non-traditional research outputs, working with institutions, publishers, funders and governments all over the world.
Q: Have you ever attended an RDAP Summit before?
Yes, this will be my third year in a row at RDAP and it is definitely my favorite North American conference to attend. RDAP is a chance to bring everyone in the data librarian community together to share stories, initiatives, pain points and innovative solutions.
Q: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Summit?
I look forward to hearing about the big challenges for 2018 and beyond. This space is moving so fast that we went from talking about open data to FAIR data in a short amount of time, I’m curious to see what the next big thing will be. I’m also looking forward to hearing about the Figshare project at Carnegie Mellon University on the workshop Friday, they are doing very cool stuff.
Q: What data-thing or project has you the most excited right now?
I love data visualization and the potential it has to make research more accessible and exciting. A great example of this is the Oxford University Interactive Data Network, they use Shiny apps to query datasets on Figshare and plot them in a really cool ways. We loved their work so much that we partnered with them to do data visualization of our State of Open Data survey data and have some other collaborations coming up in 2018.
Q: What else should the RDAP community should know about you and Figshare?
People know us for being a data repository but since we started working with institutions 3 years ago they started asking us if they could migrate their paper repository to Figshare as well. We are of the opinion ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’, sadly in a lot of cases paper repositories are broken, tired, out of date and not fitting for the modern researcher workflow. Several gap analyses later we have started building out traditional IR functionality to complement our existing data repository platform. A good friend of mine at one of my favorite institutions that we work with said to me “We have a paper repository and a separate data repository, but we can’t think of a good reason why”.
For me it makes most sense to have all research outputs living together in the same place, papers, data, code and all non-traditional research outputs. That’s easier for the researcher depositing, easier for the researcher discovering and means fewer systems for the institution to manage. At the same time APIs and interoperability are really important to us, when a university is happy with their current setup we are happy to throw and catch data wherever we can.