23 Research Data Things – 4: Data Discovery

I think that aggregators like RDA (Reseach Data Australia) are very helpful as a portal to many different research repositories. RDA make their data discoverable with searchable fields are Title, Identifier, Related Organisation, related people, and the description. Subject headings are applied using a range of different thesauruses. Searchers can also limit results by time period and location where the data was captured, data provider, license and access.
From looking at the record linked to in the Thing, I thought some of the subject headings on this particular record weren’t all that useful or descriptive – like “date”, “camera number” (which were fields from the dataset), and some were not that descriptive, like “behaviour” and “cameras” which don’t really describe the content of the data in a way that help with discovery. Other than that, the information is well filled out.
As an aggregator/portal RDA doesn’t host the data itself, instead they link to the data provider. There are public stats on how many times the record has been viewed (ie. pageview count), how many times it has been cited (using Thomson Reuters’ Data Citation Index™) and how many times it has been “accessed”.  This is an interesting stat because it actually counts is the number of times the “Go to Data Provider” link has been clicked. I clicked on the Australian Antarctic Data Centre link, but I only looked at AADC’s repository record. In order to download the data itself I needed to open an account so I didn’t bother. Obviously that’s beyond RDA’s control. I just found it interesting because it doesn’t necessarily count the people who have seen the data, just the number of people who have followed the link to the data provider’s record.

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