CBS Faculty lead National Science Foundation Workshop

If you look to the National Science Foundation (NSF) for funding, you need to pay attention to your data.

On January 29-31, 2015, a team of ASU professors coordinated a workshop for the NSF, held in Washington D.C.

The ASU team consisted of CBS Director and regents’ professor Jane Maienschein, president’s professor Manfred Laubichler, professor Ed Hackett from the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC), and Barrett Honors College faculty fellow John Parker.

The workshop, for which the ASU team received a grant of $39,268 from the NSF’s Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate, addressed the issue of data management within the history and philosophy of science (HPS) and science and technology studies (STS) communities.

HPS and STS maintained two separate working groups that came together on the third day for a joint session that highlighted the importance of data and its management for the socially embedded research that these communities do, as highlighted in the ASU Charter.

Data management plans have been a required part of all NSF grant applications since 2011, but the HPS and STS communities have struggled to meet the requirement.

Maienschien said that other federal agencies also mandate that researchers manage their data if given federal funds. "We aren’t supposed to stick what we find on our own hard drives and assume that’s enough. We are supposed to share. But how? With whom? To what purpose? And most importantly, who will pay for the sharing," she said after the meeting.

Among the topics of discussion for both groups were what counts as data, how to manage the data created using NSF funding, and how to meet the federal mandate to make all data created through federal funding openly available.

The results of this workshop, which will include guidelines for the joint HPS-STS community regarding data management and a series of white papers due out at the beginning of 2016, promise to have profound impacts on how government funding is distributed to members of this community.

The 17-member HPS working group included data workflow specialists, archivists, historians and philosophers of science, and representatives of different federal funding bodies, while the 11-member STS group included a former NSF Program Director, STS faculty from around the world, and representatives from the Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S).

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Kate MacCord