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From Preserving Data to Preserving Research: Curation of Process and Context

22nd September 2013 in Valetta, Malta [AM]


In the domain of eScience, investigations are increasingly collaborative. Most scientific and engineering domains benefit from building on top of the outputs of other research: By sharing information to reason over and data to incorporate in the modelling task at hand.

This raises the need to provide means for preserving and sharing entire eScience workflows and processes for later reuse. We need to define which information is to be collected, create means to preserve it and approaches to enable and validate the re-execution of a preserved process. This includes and goes beyond preserving the data used in the experiments, as the process underlying its creation and use is essential.

This half-day tutorial will provide an introduction to the problem domain and discuss solutions for the curation of eScience processes. The tutorial is targeted at researchers, publishers and curators in eScience disciplines who want to learn about methods of ensuring the long-term availability of experiments forming the basis of scientific research.

The tutorial will cover the following topics:

Data Citation: Data forms the basis of the results of many research publications, and thus needs to be referenced with the same accuracy as bibliographic data - only if data can be identified with high precision can it be reused, validated, verified and reproduced. Citing a specific data set is however not trivial - it exists in a vast plurality of specifications and instances, can be potentially huge in size, and their location might change. We will provide an overview on existing approaches to overcome these challenges. Further, we will present the issue of creating data citations of data held in databases, especially of dynamic data sets where data gets added or updated on a regular basis.

Re-usability and traceability of workflows and processes: the processes creating and interpreting data are complex objects. Curating and preserving them requires special effort, as they are dynamic, and highly dependent on software, configuration, hardware, and other aspects. We will discuss these issues in detail, and provide an introduction to two complementary approaches.

The first approach is based on the concept of Research Objects, which adopts a workflow-centric approach and thereby aims at facilitating the reuse and reproducibility. It allows packaging the data and the methods as one Research Object to share and cite it, and thus enable publishers to grant access to the actual data and methods that contribute to the findings reported in scholarly articles.

A second approach focuses on describing and preserving a process and the context it is embedded in. The artefacts that may need to be captured range from data, software and accompanying documentation, to legal and human resource aspects. Some of this information can be automatically extracted from an existing process, and tools for this will be presented. Ways to archive the process and to perform preservation actions on the process environment, such as recreating a controlled execution environment or migration of software components, are presented. Finally, the challenge of evaluating the re-execution of a preserved process is discussed, addressing means of establishing its authenticity.


Andreas Rauber is Associate Professor at the Department of Software Technology and Interactive Systems at the Vienna University of Technology. He is involved in several research projects in the field of Digital Libraries, focusing on the organization and exploration of large information spaces, as well as Web archiving and digital preservation. His research interests cover the broad scope of digital libraries, including specifically text and music information retrieval and organization, information visualization, as well as data analysis and neural computation. He has been involved in numerous initiatives in the area of digital preservation (DELOS, DPE, Planets, SCAPE, TIMBUS, APARSEN). He has been lecturing extensively on this subject at different universities, as part of the DELOS and nestor summerschools on digital preservation, as well as during a range of training events on digital preservation.

Rudolf Mayer is a researcher at Secure Business Austria, as well as the Department of Software Technology and Interactive Systems at the Vienna University of Technology. His research interest cover digital preservation, specifically the preservation of processes, information retrieval (specifically on text documents and music), data analysis and machine learning. He has many years of lecturing experience in these subjects. He has been involved in the DELOS and PLANETS projects, and currently works on digital preservation aspects in the FP7 projects APARSEN and TIMBUS.

Stefan Pröll is researcher at SBA Research. His primary research focus lies on digital preservation, especially on security aspects of digital archives, including authenticity and provenance of digital objects. Further areas of interest are databases and data citation. Currently he is working on FP7 projects APARSEN and TIMBUS focusing on security and provenance related topics. Before he joined SBA in April 2011, he was working in international organizations in the area of Web development, Linux server and database administration.

Raul Palma is a researcher at Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Center (PSNC). His research interests cover digital preservation, particularly of scientific methods, provenance and evolution of digital artefacts, ontology engineering and distributed technologies. He has participated in several EU projects, including the Network of Excellence Knowledge Web, NeOn, e-Lico and WF4Ever. He has many years of lecturing experience in related topics, both at the university and private institutions. He has authored or co-authored several vocabularies and ontologies, such as the Research Object evolution Ontology, Ontology Metadata Vocabulary (OMV) and different extensions for describing ontologies and related resources, models for collaborative ontology construction and digital multimedia repositories.

Daniel Garijo is a research in the Ontology Engineering Group at the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. His research activities focus on e-Science and the Semantic Web, specifically on how to increase the understandability of scientific workflows using provenance and metadata. He is a member of the W3C Provenance Working Group, and is currently part of the Wf4Ever project.

Platinum sponsor

Government of Malta - Ministry for Finance

Golden sponsor

Malta Tourism Authority Visit Malta

Springer LNCS
JCDL 2013, Indiana, USA
ICADL 2013, Bangalore, India
MTSR 2013, Thessaloniki, Greece
SIGIR 2014, Gold Coast, Australia
ELPUB 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Organized by the University of Malta in partnership with COST - European Cooperation in Science and Technology.

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