UC Berkeley Celebrates Love Data Week with Great Talks and Tips

February 20, 2018

 

Last week, the University Library, the Berkeley Institute for Data Science (BIDS), and the Research Data Management program were delighted to host Love Data Week (LDW) 2018 at UC Berkeley. Love Data Week is a nationwide campaign designed to raise awareness about data visualization, management, sharing, and preservation. The theme of this year’s campaign was data stories to discuss how data is being used in meaningful ways to shape the world around us.

At UC Berkeley, we hosted a series of events designed to help researchers, data specialists, and librarians to better address and plan for research data needs. The events covered issues related to collecting, managing, publishing, and visualizing data. The audiences gained hands-on experience with using APIs, learned about resources that the campus provides for managing and publishing research data, and engaged in discussions around researchers’ data needs at different stages of their research process.

Participants from many campus groups (e.g., LBNL, CSS-IT) were eager to continue the stimulating conversation around data management. Check out the full LDW 2018 program and information about the presented topics.

LDW at UC Berkeley was kicked off on Tuesday, February 13 with a walkthrough and demos about Scopus APIs (Application Programming Interface) led by Eric Livingston of the publishing company, Elsevier. Elsevier provides a set of APIs that allow users to access the content of journals and books published by Elsevier.

In the first part of the session, Eric provided a quick introduction to APIs and an overview about Elsevier APIs. He illustrated the purposes of different APIs that Elsevier provides such as DirectScience APIs, SciVal API, Engineering Village API, Embase APIs, and Scopus APIs. As mentioned by Eric, anyone can get free access to Elsevier APIs, and the content published by Elsevier under Open Access licenses is fully available. Eric explained that Scopus APIs allow users to access curated abstracts and citation data from all scholarly journals indexed by Scopus, Elsevier’s abstract and citation database. He detailed multiple popular Scopus APIs such as Search API, Abstract Retrieval API, Citation Count API, Citation Overview API, and Serial Title API. Eric also overviewed the amount of data that Scopus database holds.

In the second half of the workshop, Eric explained how Scopus APIs work, how to get a key to Scopus APIs, and showed different authentication methods. He walked the group through live queries, showed them how to extract data from API and how to debug queries using the advanced search. He talked about the limitations of the APIs and provided tips and tricks for working with Scopus APIs. Eric left the attendances with actionable and workable code and scripts to pull and retrieve data from Scopus APIs.

On the second day, we hosted a Data Stories and Visualization Panel, featuring Garret S. Christensen (BIDS and BITSS), Orianna DeMasi (Computer Science and BIDS), Rita Lucarelli (Department of Near Eastern Studies), and Claudia von Vacano (D-Lab). The talks and discussions centered upon how data is being used in creative and compelling ways to tell stories, in addition to rewards and challenges of supporting groundbreaking research when the underlying research data is restricted.

Claudia von Vacano at the podium.Claudia von Vacano, the Director of D-Lab, discussed the Online Hate Index (OHI), a joint initiative of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center for Technology and Society that uses crowd-sourcing and machine learning to develop scalable detection of the growing amount of hate speech within social media. In its recently-completed initial phase, the project focused on training a model based on an unbiased dataset collected from Reddit. Claudia explained the process, from identifying the problem, defining hate speech, and establishing rules for human coding, through building, training, and deploying the machine learning model. Going forward, the project team plans to improve the accuracy of the model and extend it to include other social media platforms.

Garrett Christensen at the podium.Next, Garret S. Christensen, BIDS and BITSS fellow, talked about his experience with research data. He started by providing a background about his research, then discussed the challenges he faced in collecting his research data. The main research questions that Garret investigated are: How are people responding to military deaths? Do large numbers of, or high-profile, deaths affect people’s decision to enlist in the military?

Garret discussed the challenges of obtaining and working with the Department of Defense data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request for the purpose of researching war deaths and military recruitment. Despite all the challenges that Garret faced and the time he spent on getting the data, he succeeded in putting the data together into a public repository. Now the information on deaths in the US Military from January 1, 1990 to November 11, 2010 that was obtained through Freedom of Information Act request is available on dataverse. At the end, Garret showed that how deaths and recruits have a negative relationship.

Orianna DeMasi, a graduate student of Computer Science and BIDS Fellow, shared her story of working with human subjects data. The focus of Orianna’s research is on building tools to improve mental healthcare. Orianna framed her story about collecting and working with human subject data as a fairy tale story. She indicated that working with human data makes security and privacy essential. She has learned that it’s easy to get blocked “waiting for data” rather than advancing the project in parallel to collecting or accessing data. At the end, Orianna advised the attendees that “we need to keep our eyes on the big problems and data is only the start.”

Rita Lucarelli, Department of Near Eastern Studies discussed the Book of the Dead in 3D project, which shows how photogrammetry can help visualization and study of different sets of data within their own physical context. According to Rita, the “Book of the Dead in 3D” project aims in particular to create a database of “annotated” models of the ancient Egyptian coffins of the Hearst Museum, which is radically changing the scholarly approach and study of these inscribed objects, at the same time posing a challenge in relation to data sharing and the publication of the artifacts. Rita indicated that metadata is growing and digital data and digitization are challenging. It was fascinating to hear about Egyptology and how to visualize 3D ancient objects!

We closed out LDW 2018 at UC Berkeley with a session about Research Data Management Planning and Publishing. In the session, Daniella Lowenberg (University of California Curation Center) started by discussing the reasons to manage, publish, and share research data on both practical and theoretical levels.

Daniella shared practical tips about why, where, and how to manage research data and prepare it for publishing. She discussed relevant data repositories that UC Berkeley and other entities offer. Daniela also illustrated how to make data reusable, and highlighted the importance of citing research data and how this maximizes the benefit of research.

At the end, Daniella presented a live demo on using Dash for publishing research data and encouraged UC Berkeley workshop participants to contact her with any question about data publishing. In a lively debate, researchers shared their experiences with Daniella about working with managing research data and highlighted what has worked and what has proved difficult.

We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the attendees. Attendees also expressed their interest in having similar workshops to understand the broader perspectives and skills needed to help researchers manage their data.

Many thanks to BIDS and the University Library for sponsoring these events!

Photographs by Yasmin AlNoamany for the University Library and BIDS.