Opening Up Access to TIDESS Research Data
I began working for the TIDESS project in March of 2019, the beginning of my first spring semester at UF. As a freshman in schooling and in research, one of my main duties has been compiling and structuring how we will share the data underlying our findings with both the education and computer science communities.
Our first internal goal was to have a single location where all of the data from our research participants – videos, audio files, transcripts, etc. – could be accessed with ease. The first step in my journey into data management began with assembling an Excel spreadsheet that would detail all of the files that we had for each study that took place. For this, I created columns for each piece of information someone looking for the data would want to know, such as the file names, how many copies there were, the date they were uploaded, etc. This would allow for anyone interested in learning more about the project to have one centralized location where they can find the exact information they are looking for, similar to a book’s index.
Once all of this was combined, it was time to start thinking about how our data should be shared and through what platform we would share it. This is when Dr. Stofer pointed me to Open Science Framework (https://osf.io/), a software made specifically for the publication of project data, allowing for public and private uploads and easy access for all collaborators and interested others. With Open Science Framework, or OSF, we were able to create a private project that encapsulated the video files, audio files, and transcripts before they were released for public view. We were also able to use this feature internally, as I was able to store some of the files that would not be shared in a permanently private folder, such as the videos that showed a participant’s face, to ensure that their privacy was secure. This step was incredibly helpful, as it allowed me to upload all of the data at different times without risk of someone stumbling upon incomplete data. It was also useful in that it allowed me to organize the data in a way that would appear logical through the creation of a separate project file within the overarching TIDESS project (https://osf.io/rjzkh), thus giving individuals access to museum deployment data, Tabletop study data, and so on. Furthermore, I was able to add subsections for each data type (video, audio, etc.), ensuring that each piece of uploaded data will be easy to find and access. After all of the data has been uploaded and reviewed by the team, we plan to make the project public and available on the site so that our work can be referenced at any time.
To say that this was a daunting task at first would be an understatement, given how critical it is that all of the information posted be accurate and easily accessible. However, the more familiar I became with the platform, the less intimidating the job became. I first looked at the release of data as the last step in a research project, so I thought that everything I would post would be the only representation of the study, this being the cause of my stress. It was when I spent more time observing the project that I realized that there existed an abundance of opportunities for revision and feedback, thus allowing me to feel more comfortable in the task.
As I stated earlier, this is my first research project. While I was a first year undergraduate student when I began working with TIDESS, I am now in my second year at the University of Florida, studying computer science. Being a part of the team has been such an incredible learning experience, and I am excited to dive deeper into the development side of research.
by A. Tierney