RDAP: Can you provide a short summary of who you are and why your organization decided to support and attend the 2017 summit?
IASSIST: The International Association for Social Sciences Information Services and Technology, better known as IASSIST, is a professional organization for people who work with information technology and data services to support research and teaching in the social sciences and beyond. IASSIST supports RDAP because we share common goals and believe in supporting networks of data professionals. Our goal is to help bring people together to share stories and make friends in order to improve data services, advance research infrastructures, and exchange best practices.
RDAP: Which communities does your organization primarily serve and/or represent?
IASSIST: IASSIST is for anyone who works with research data, anywhere. We are an international organization and serve people who work in diverse sectors such as academia, government, non-profit, and the private sector in a variety of professional roles including information specialists, librarians, technology professionals, and data archivists. IASSIST has a strong tradition of bringing together experts in social science data and in recent years we have seen our membership expand to include people working with all kinds of data from different disciplinary areas including the health sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. We represent both producers and users of data, specialists who preserve and manage data, providers of support for secondary data users, and methodologists and computing specialists who advance technical methods to manipulate and analyze social data.
RDAP: Can you tell us how your organization supports and advances best practices for research data?
IASSIST: We provide a support network for research data professionals. The IASSIST annual conference provides an opportunity to meet colleagues and share best practices. Our listserv, IASSIST-L, is very active. It gives people a place to share news and keep current, as well as ask questions. IASSIST members are really helpful and willing to share their expertise with one another. We also foster topical interest groups that allow members to engage in sustained discussions about particular issues and create shared resources. Finally, IASSIST operates a peer-reviewed journal, the IASSIST Quarterly which publishes and disseminates literature and provides an outlet for members to contribute to the scholarly conversation.
RDAP: What are some of the new challenges facing research data professionals in 2017?
IASSIST: As data services and data management have become increasingly important, there is a need to collaborate and build bridges between work being done in different disciplinary areas. We all have a lot to learn from each other. The IASSIST 2017 conference theme, “Data in the Middle: The Common Language of Research,” is about making these connections and bringing people together to work on common problems. The hot topic right now is “data rescue,” prompted by the U.S. presidential administration change and we are planning a special Birds-of-a-Feather session at our upcoming conference to discuss these issues. However, data preservation and access has always been an important concern.
RDAP: The RDAP Summit strives to provide a venue for reaching across disciplines and institutions to work on common solutions to issues surrounding research data management. Do you have insights on how RDAP differs or compares to other conferences you’ve attended?
IASSIST: The RDAP Summit is a fabulous venue to bring people together! IASSIST is really excited to sponsor RDAP because we share many of the same goals and people can benefit from multiple opportunities to meet, present, and discuss. IASSIST has an international scope and covers a very broad range of data services communities. There are multiple tracks for people, so you can find your core group or expand your horizons.
RDAP: What is the one thing you want other summit attendees to walk away knowing about your organization?
IASSIST: We welcome all data professionals and provide a year-round support group through our active listserv in addition to our annual conference. If you are looking to get involved and expand your network, IASSIST is a great organization to join!
IASSIST Membership Chair
Psychology & Sociology Librarian
University of Michigan Library