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Monday, February 8, 2010

TRAC: C2.2: Appropriate software technologies

C2.2 Repository has software technologies appropriate to the services it provides to its designated community(ies) and has procedures in place to receive and monitor notifications, and evaluate when software technology changes are needed.

The repository needs to be aware of the types of access services expected by its designated community(ies), and to make sure its software capabilities can support these services. For example, it may need to add format translations to meet the needs of currently widely used application tools, or it may need to add a data subsetting service for very large data objects.

Evidence: Technology watch; documentation of procedures; designated community profiles; user needs evaluation; software inventory.

My sense is that ICPSR is very strong in this area, and is, in general, quite strong in areas that touch the Access portion of the OAIS framework.

Regardless of the format in which it receives content, and regardless of the internal format used to preserve the content, ICPSR routinely produces the "full product suite" of formats for delivery on the web site. At this time this includes platform-independent versions of SPSS, SAS, and Stata, as well as tab-separate values (for those that might want to use Excel or Access), and even plain ASCII data with setups.

ICPSR also prepares the content for use with our online analysis systems, SDA from UC Berkeley. This opens up access to the data for those users who lack statistical analysis software, and also allows one to subset the data prior to download.

Also, ICPSR spends a considerable amount of resources on data discovery and data browsing systems, such as our new faceted search, and the extensive metadata we prepare to document the data. These too might fall into the "appropriate software" portion of TRAC.

Does my sense of how we're doing match that of the communities we serve? How well do you think we're doing at providing the right types of access and appropriate formats?

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