The Research IT Board funded Live Data project funded the initiation of the Interactive Data Network (IDN). This website acts as both a central resource for the IDN and a progress reporting mechanism for the Live Data project, this is a review of the first project steering group in January 2016.
We were pleased to receive comments and feedback from the first Live Data steering group on 21st January on the case studies we currently have in development, as well as our future plans. This blogpost is a short summary of current progress in the Live Data project and points of note from the meeting.
There are currently four case studies in the final stages of development, covering the Humanities, Social and Biological sciences. We are looking to recruit more case studies in mid-February; researchers interested in creating interactive visualisations should contact email@example.com. The two case studies closest to completion have provided excellent opportunities to create template Shiny apps for interactive network and geographic analysis - these will be made available in the near future via the project website and Github. We're pleased to announce our pilot Drupal site now supports the embedding of iframes and will soon be populated with case studies and other demonstration visualisations from the project.
What's in a name?
We are in the final stages of selecting the name for our visualisation service, the Live Data monicker is useful within the research facilitator/knowledge exchange networks but does not make clear to researchers that we are here as a resource to support a service.
Questions about our chosen visualisation services
The following considerations were highlighted as being concerns by the steering group:
Researchers need to understand the licenses attached to their visualisations on the cloud-based services we're using, particularly in the case of Tableau Public that attaches a highly pervasive license
Backwards compatibility and version control options for visualisation services must be made clear to researchers before recommending solutions
The capability to print visualisations is extremely important to many researchers and the options available should be made clear in our training materials.
Alliances with other groups
There is some skepticism from a few researchers about the utility of interactive visualisations, that they detract or misrepresent research data - particularly with regard to how uncertainty is communication in charts and graphics. To assist in heading these concerns head on we are building stronger alliances with the following groups at Oxford:
Oxford's Research Software Developer Network
Oxford's Research Facilitator Network
Oxford's Knowledge Exchange Network
Noting that during 2016 the latter two networks are merging, providing an excellent opportunity to include the Live Data project in cross-channel messaging opportunities to introduce the new network.
Future Networking/Presentation Events
The first Live Data Networking event in November was a run away success with standing room only, it was great to hear about the vast range of visualisation tools developed by researchers here at Oxford. For future events we would like to attract researchers who would like to visualise their own data, particularly those who have never considered visualisations as a communication means before. To that end, our next event will be focused on interactive visualisations in the academic publishing world - what opportunities do publishers and the press provide to researchers and how best to take advantage of them.
Open Data and Open Access continue to be hot topics in academia, the research councils and funding bodies across the world. The newly established Centre for Digital Scholarship in the Weston Library aims to facilitate the transformation of scholarly practice across the University of Oxford.