The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded New York University a grant of $520,503 to enable libraries and other institutions to reliably archive digital scholarship, with a focus on research code, for long-term accessibility. Vicky Rampin, NYU’s Research Data Management and Reproducibility Librarian, designed the project with her co-principal investigator, Martin Klein, Research Scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).
The project follows Investigating and Archiving the Scholarly Git Experience (IASGE), an extensive NYU Libraries study also funded by the Sloan Foundation and led by Rampin, examining the landscape of current research software archiving efforts and the behavior of academics using Git and Git Hosting Platforms for scholarly reasons. The findings of both facets of IASGE underscore the vulnerability of scholarship on these platforms, from lack of holistic archival practices for research code to gaps in the research software management landscape that make long-term access more difficult. As Rampin and Klein wrote in their most recent proposal: “These factors leave us with little hope for long-term access to and availability of our scholarly artifacts on the Web.”
In response, Rampin, Klein, and their colleagues, wilkie of the University of Pittsburgh and Michael Nelson of the Web Science & Digital Libraries Research Group at Old Dominion University, will launch the two-year project, Collaborative Software Archiving for Institutions (CoSAI), in September 2021. CoSAI will have three main streams of work: 1) technical development on open source tools for collecting, curating, and preserving open scholarship with a focus on research software; 2) community building around open scholarship, software collection and curation, and archiving of open scholarship; and 3) optimizing workflows for archiving open scholarship with ephemera, via machine-actionable and manual workflows.
Community building to develop interest and expertise is as critical to the project as software development, says Rampin, if scholars and institutions are to commit to archiving open scholarship. “Not only must we build technical solutions,” she says. “we must also engage deeply with, and empower, patrons and the wider scholarly community.”