WG Case Statement DRAFT

Working Group Case Statement:

Metadata for Researcher-Created Primary Qualitative Data WG


A Case Statement describes:

  1. What is the research case (will the WG produce something useful)?

    1. The is a clear lack of standards for meta-data standards for user-created primary research data in the fields of History and Ethnography, and in the Digital Humanities more generally. Good shared meta-data practices will make user-created research data more findable and usable. It could also contribute to the process of providing greater credit for sharing data (i.e. DOI)

  2. What is the business case (will people use it)?

    1. The standards we develop are likely to be taken up by individual researchers, people working on collaborative projects and institutions. Adoption of these standards will help with the sharing and re-use of primary data in history and ethnography by: a) making data in these fields easier to find, b) improving ability to give credit/citations for data, incentivizing data sharing and community-building, c) …...

    2. Specific groups likely to sign on: OMEKA, PECE? Julia Collins needing citation practices and meta-data standards

  3. Is there capacity (are the right people involved to adopt and implement).

    1. see below

A Case Statement must contain the following components:

  1. WG Charter: A concise articulation of what issues the WG will address within a 12-18 month time frame and what its “deliverables” or outcomes will be.

    • The Meta-Data for Researcher-Created Primary Data Working Group (MD-RC-PD) will survey the best practices for meta-data associated with user-created artifacts in the fields of history and ethnography (including recorded interviews, field notes, and photographs, among others. See table 1) and develop a standard that will be documented and implemented in a number of projects. Based on preliminary research and communication, we expect groups such as ___(PECE/Omeka?)______ to take up these meta-data practices as they will make these artifacts much easier to find, use and cite, perhaps even contributing to the development of a credit/reward structure that would not only reduce barriers, but further incentivize the sharing of data in the digital humanities.

  2. Value Proposition: A specific description of who will benefit from the adoption or implementation of the WG outcomes and what tangible impacts should result.

    • Historians

    • Ethnographers

    • PECE developers/users

    • Disaster STS, TAF, World Academia, etc. research communities

    • CulAnth?

    • Researchers already sharing data and not getting credit

    • Researchers that want to share data but don’t have a clear sense of how it would be found or made useful.

    • Researchers that already have data that could be digitized, and research practice (including data collection) could be affected by these standards, or best practices.

  3. Engagement with existing work in the area: A brief review of related work and plan for engagement with any other activities in the area.

    • Smithsonian as gold standard?

    • Open Folklore (example above shows fields we need to define)

    • Cultural Anthropology (example of “cite as” protocol)

      1. Lombard, Louisa. "The Central African Republic (CAR) in a Hot Spot." Fieldsights - Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology Online, June 11, 2014, http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/538-the-central-african-republic-car-in-a-hot-spot

      2. http://www.culanth.org/fieldsights/538-the-central-african-republic-car-in-a-hot-spot

    • Many advanced digital projects supporting historical and ethnographic research comply with the metadata standards recommended by the Open Archives Initiative for web content interoperability.  This WG will examine the value (and possible limits) of encouraging compliance with OAI standards community-wide. One computer scientist seemed to indicate that the OAI standards are "out of date," and followed up with this:   “On my comment about OSA being out-of-date, I was talking about how the standard uses older web technology and has not been updated or changed in quite some time. If I remember correctly it's based a XML encoded formate, using some properties and ideas that are a little out of date. If I were to do it today, first we would want a separation the data model and the data encoding. For example, many APIs allow you to get results back in JSON, XML, RSS, etc. This separation of data model and encoding allows you to support many different encoding standards, even ones that don't exist yet. I would use RDF to model the information (a language for modeling data, not just encoding it), giving the terms and ideas we care about URIs (just like URLs you find on the web) that can be looked up and explained to any human or machine.”  

    • Historian of cartography Pat Seed is involved in efforts to define best metadata practices for maps.  She has noted that Dublin Core is far from sufficient.   

    • RDA Groups to partner with: Meta-Data, Provenance, Engagement, ______ ?

  4. Work Plan: A specific and detailed description of how the WG will operate including:

    • Adoption Plan: A specific plan for adoption or implementation of the WG outcomes within the organizations and institutions represented by WG members, as well as plans for adoption more broadly within the community. Such adoption or implementation should start within the 12-18 month timeframe before the WG is complete.

      1. Adopt first in Disaster STS, then the rest of PECE

      2. others? Omeka? are we contributing anything new to Omeka meta-data practices?

    • The form and description of final deliverables of the WG,

      1. survey with annotated examples/scans,

      2. documents of best practices,

      3. practices in action in PECE platforms, and beyond.

      4. interviews.

    • The form and description of milestones and intermediate documents, code or other deliverables that will be developed during the course of the WG’s work,

      1. Circulating WG draft to IG mid September, Plenary 4 sharing and gathering feedback on initial plan, submitting WG soon after...

      2. Plenary 5 deliverables?

        1. Environmental scan, interviews. Synergies with BoF ethnography of data practices project?

      3. Plenary 6 deliverables?

        1. Technical implementation?

      4. Plenary 7 deliverables?

        1. Uptake in more projects, adapting along the way.

    • a description of the WG’s mode and frequency of operation (e.g. on-line and/or on-site, how frequently will the group meet, etc.),

      1. Folded into weekly PECE meetings

      2. Monthly project shares,

      3. monthly issues shares.

    • a description of how the WG plans to develop consensus, address conflicts, stay on track and within scope, and move forward during operation

      1. good history of working relationship, publication/presentation record, public dissemination (blog posts), widespread interest in TAF/PECE, etc.

      2. conflict: leverage difference as a strength (within group and in larger communities, as in project shares)

      3. weekly check-ins and meetings, etc.

      4. Updates to broader community at RDA Plenaries.

    • a description of the WG’s planned approach to broader community engagement and participation.

      1. RDA Plenaries, also presentations at domain conferences? AAA?

  5. Initial Membership: A specific list of initial members of the WG and a description of initial leadership of the WG.

    • Kim, Mike, Jason, Bridget, Lindsay, Dominic, Brandon, others?

WGs should deliver specific, concrete, and needed outcomes that help researchers and related communities share and exchange data. Many existing mechanisms exist for developing high-level studies, recommendations, and guidance. Where RDA seeks to add value is by demonstrating the data exchange and implementing the actual tools and mechanisms called for by these studies and that truly meet community needs. Efforts that would lead to papers, recommendations, etc. are meant to complement rather than serve as deliverables of RDA Working Groups.


  • Are there measurable outcomes?

Impact and Engagement

  • Will the outcome(s) of the Working Group be taken up by the intended community?

  • Will the outcome(s) of the Working Group foster data sharing and/or exchange?


  • Can the proposed work, outcomes /deliverables, and Action Plan described in the Case Statement be accomplished in 12-18 months?


  • Is the scope too large for effective progress, too small for an RDA effort, or not appropriate for the RDA?

  • Overall, is this a worthwhile effort for the RDA to take on? Is this an effort that adds value over and above what is currently being done within the community?

In assessing these criteria, Council will consider whether the Case Statement addresses the following questions. These are all questions of impact, rather than technical merit.

1. What is the evidence that the research community wants this?

  • The specific research communities who will benefit are <WHO?> and that benefit is <WHAT?>.

  • Specific benefits of the work that connect distinct communities are <WHAT?>.

  • This will enable the specific researchers to address <WHAT RESEARCH ISSUE?> more easily.

  • Comment:  Adopters and beneficiaries of the deliverables must be represented in the Working Group to demonstrate research community demand and drive its impact.

  • Open question: What data identifiers and metadata should be used in historical and ethnographic projects, and is it appropriate and necessary to call for standardization?  Are there technical means of supporting heterogeneous identification and categorization schemes?

2. What are the practical outcomes?

  • In the course of this work, <WHAT?> will be adopted by the <WHO from 1a?>.  (This provides evidence that demonstrates that the deliverables are useful.)

  • Comment:  Deliverables are expected to be implemented code, adopted policy or practice, implemented infrastructure or tools, etc.

  • Comment:  Deliverables are expected to directly benefit the research community during the course of the working group.

  • Comment:  Reports and recommendations alone are not aligned with the notion of RDA deliverable.

3. How do the deliverables make it easier for researchers to do their work?  What significant changes will be made in how research is undertaken?

  • The deliverables will make it easier for research communities to do their work <HOW?> and <TO WHAT BENEFIT?>.

  • What barriers to data sharing or exchange are being removed and how?

  • Could the deliverables disrupt current practice?

4.    Who will implement or adopt the deliverable, and are the adopters and beneficiaries included in the Working Group?

  • Who are the adopters?

  • Who are the beneficiaries?

  • How are they included in the Working Group and what are their roles?

  • What is the Working Group’s strategy for broader adoption?

5.   What is the schedule for implementation or adoption of the deliverables during the course of the Working Group?

  • Comment:  Milestones should reference groups and deliverables from questions 1 and 2.

6. What are the advantages of the proposed approach compared to existing approaches?

  • What else is being done now?

  • Why is the adoption of the proposed deliverables an improvement?

  • What are the impediments to global adoption?