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Digging into Data 2013: Conference Report

Laura Bones, Programmes Coordinator at the AHRC, reports on the recent Digging into Data 2013 conference.

MontrealOn Saturday I was in Montreal for the 2013 Digging into Data conference. This was an opportunity for the round 2 award holders to present their projects in a ten minute ‘lightning round’ presentation.

The highlight for me was the opening keynote by Professor John Willinsky, from the University of Stanford, who talked about the need, not only for open access but for open data and the researcher’s responsibility to curate their data so that others can use it in the future. He used examples such as a play he had been to called ‘arguendo’, which showed columns of data bowing on screen, which really brought his talk to life for me.

The closing keynote was from Professor Sally Wyatt. She talked about the importance of invisible work in such collaborations and discussed the benefits and challenges of openness in terms of access, content, sources, hardware and data. 14 teams gave presentations, explaining the main aims, methods and outcomes of their awards. In the panel sessions they were asked questions from award holders in round 1, about general themes that affected all teams. The presentation that I found most interesting was the IMPACT project, which aimed to explore patterns of health disease and funerary behaviour in Egyptian records, by using a CT machine to look at mummies. They have now discovered that heart disease was present in a large proportion of mummies, so it is not just modern diet that causes it.

The main challenges that arose out of the panel sessions were those of sustainability, open access and interdisciplinary and international cooperation but the award holders also thought the cooperation element was really brought out by the programme.

The delegates really valued the opportunity to network with other award holders and share best practice. We had a very successful conference and I look forward to the next one where we will be able to learn about the projects for Digging into Data round 3.