AERA Submits Comments on OSTP Draft Desirable Characteristics of Data Repositories

March 2020

On March 17, AERA provided comments to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Open Science on a set of draft desirable characteristics of repositories for managing and storing data from federally funded research.

The OSTP and the Subcommittee on Open Science sought feedback on the appropriateness of the characteristics in two areas: “Desirable Characteristics for All Data Repositories” and “Additional Considerations for Repositories Storing Human Data.” The desirable characteristics include descriptions of persistent unique identifiers, long-term sustainability, and curation and quality assurance, among others. Additional considerations for human data include fidelity to consent, privacy, and planning for breach, among others.

AERA’s comments provide support for the draft desirable characteristics, building on work that AERA has undertaken with funding from the National Science Foundation to provide support for education researchers in data sharing and data management, including in the use of trusted repositories.

In preparing AERA’s comments, Executive Director Felice J. Levine underscored the vital role of trusted repositories in offering an important service to scientists and the scientific community that investigators, including graduate students, cannot readily provide for themselves in terms of discoverability, preservation, data protection, and access to data or data-related products in public-use or restricted access forms.      

“All of the desirable characteristics listed in this draft proposal reflect standards that longstanding data repositories, such as that of the ICPSR [Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research], have in place,” Levine stated. “We wish to emphasize the importance not just of data but of archival attention to materials related to data documentation and data procedures that enhance the scientific value and impact of the research.”

The comments also highlight federal agency efforts, such as policies regarding restricted-use data from the National Center for Education Statistics, and best practices from repositories, such as Databrary, that can inform the development of additional guidance to support the characteristics.

On a related opportunity, the OSTP and NSTC Subcommittee on Open Science extended the deadline for comments on its Request for Information on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications, Data and Code Resulting From Federally Funded Research to May 6, providing an additional 30 days for comments from the previous deadline of April 6. Additional information on this opportunity is available from the February 2020 AERA Highlights.