Out and about with the International Data Team at the UK Data Service

During the past two months Susan Noble and Celia Russell from the UK Data Service international data team based at Jisc have taken part in a couple of important international events:

UK Data Service @ SIS-CC Workshop 2016:

Set up by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the SIS-CC is a group of international institutions (such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the International Labour Organisation and UNESCO) working together to share experiences, expertise and to enable cost effective innovation in large-scale data dissemination. We became a SIS-CC member organization in 2012 and since then have been working collaboratively with the SIS-CC to develop UKDS.Stat– our platform for disseminating international macro data.

Each spring, the SIS-CC holds an annual workshop and the theme of this year’s event was The Agile Data Factory: Create and Combine Data Experiences. This is an invaluable opportunity for staff from all the member organizations to meet up face to face to further develop collaborative working relationships and to shape the future direction of the group.  It’s worth noting that we’re the only member of the SIS-CC from the academic sector, and the only member that pulls together data from different publishers such as the OECD, IMF and International Energy Agency, so we’re in a unique position to help influence the development of this widely used platform to ensure that current and future research and teaching needs are taken into consideration. For example, at the latest workshop, we showcased our integration of Google Scholar citations into the UKDS.Stat platform and highlighted the importance of this kind of feature for our user community.

During the workshop Nick Syrotiuk presented the ‘SIS-Community in Action’ UK Data Service project update describing the team’s activity during the past year and our plans for the coming year, including a review of our dataset portfolio, upgrading to the latest version of .Stat and a Cloud installation of the .Stat software.  In the longer term, the SIS-CC community is working towards streamlining data ingest and other processes (ultimately to enable automated, point of time releases), developing a library of reusable web components that will help us build more flexible data portals and looking towards developing an open source paradigm for the UKDS.stat platform.

One of our passions is making data easier to find and explore, and Susan Noble outlined the team’s efforts to improve the user experience of UKDS.Stat with her talk “An academic experience at the UK Data Service.” She describes how we identified issues with ‘user journeys’ and implemented features in UKDS.Stat to resolve ‘pain points’ – those fiddly or difficult to understand parts of the interface that put barriers in the way of effective use. These features included a refresh of the UKDS.Stat home page with embedded social media tools, like Twitter and Facebook, the addition of video tutorial tips and the integration of journal articles via Digital Object Identifier citations so people can see how the dataset is being used in published research. UKDS.stat hosts around 450 major statistical publications from 5 intergovernmental organisations. Journal articles citing each dataset are integrated into the platform:


UKDS.stat hosts around 450 major statistical publications from 5 intergovernmental organisations. Journal articles citing each dataset are integrated into the platform.

As a result of connections made at SIS-CC workshops, we’re in discussions with a couple of SIS-CC member organisations with the purpose of obtaining additional data to enhance our international open data portfolio. Hope to be able to tell you more in the coming months #dataupdate!

You can see full details of the SIS-CC workshop 2016 at https://community.oecd.org/community/sisccws2016, images of the event at https://community.oecd.org/docs/DOC-100216 and see more on Twitter: @SISCCommunity #THEAGILEDATAFACTORY.

UK Data Service, Jisc @IASSIST2016

IASSIST (International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology) is an international organization of professionals working with information technology and data services to support research and teaching in the social sciences. This year’s annual conference with a theme of Embracing the ‘data revolution’: opportunities and challenges for research, was hosted by the Norwegian Centre for Research Data in Bergen.

Celia Russell from the UK Data Service at Jisc presented on how the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur gather information from local communities about their experiences of conflict. Peacekeeping missions gather narratives of security incidents and human rights abuses from local populations in order to monitor the security environment and help their decision-making. The documented incidents create a historical record of the security situation and often constitute one of the few continuous information resources on the conflict.

However, relatively little is known about the practices by which this information is gathered.  What are the effects of personal networks, tensions with national security services and trust in the credibility of the mission? How do these factors influence the reliability and the accuracy of the data produced?  Celia presented on the findings of a key informant study undertaken as part of her work on the University of Manchester’s Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute’s  Making Peacekeeping Data Work project in which five former UN field officers and 53 Darfurian refugees were interviewed about the experience of data collection on the ground in Darfur and how the realities of information gathering  in conflict regions impacts the quality and potential research value of the data.


Susan Noble kicked off a packed Pecha Kucha session with her talk, Datafication: Is That Really A Word? Many aspects of our daily lives leave digital trails of data and our collective socio-economic activities are increasingly migrating to the internet in what is termed the ‘datafication’ of society. In line with the open access, open education and open data movements, where possible, the UK Data Service offers its data openly.  Susan discussed the big trends and the changes we are making to the Service to help UK Data Service users seize the benefits of this datafication of society – all in 6 minutes and 40 seconds!


IASSIST is an excellent way of networking with like-minded colleagues from across Europe, the USA, Canada and the rest of the world finding out more about the global data environment.  It was particularly interesting to hear from organisations such as the ICPSR who have been carrying out environmental scanning and gap analysis work to identify emerging data trends and future data needs – the methods used and knowledge gained at this event will definitely feature in our own ‘dataset review’ work and other service development activities

We were also able to promote the UK Data Service and our UKDS.Stat platform, hopefully encouraging a whole new audience of international open data users across the globe!

For further information, check out the IASSIST home page, and on twitter @iassistdata #iassist16.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *