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University Libraries launch new data grant program

Monday, September 28, 2020

The University of Arizona Libraries is launching a new Data Grant Program to invite University of Arizona faculty, graduate students, post-doctoral associates and staff to apply for grants to the purchase of commercially available datasets for their research. A total of $10,000 is available through the program this fiscal year, and requests up to $5,000 will be accepted. 

The dataset requested cannot include restricted data, such as personally identifiable information (PII) data, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulations) data, or other sensitive data. Applications are accepted until November 6, 2020, and grant award decisions will be made by January 30, 2021. Dataset purchases must be made by March 31, 2021.

The library took the initiative to create the data grant program after talking with researchers who had searched for free data sources and found them to be inadequate for their needs. To solve this problem, researchers must fund the purchase themselves by seeking help from their department or applying for grant funding. In many cases, grants aren't available to purchase data and are often very competitive. In addition, the data is only available for a specific researcher and isn't licensed for others on campus to access.

"The main reason that I'm excited about the program is that it gives researchers the ability to find interesting and useful datasets they need to do their research," said Blake Joyce, assistant director of research computing at the University of Arizona. "The best part of the program is that it lets the researchers themselves select what datasets are best for their disciplines." 

The library addressed this particular need on campus by building a data collection for the broadest range of users. Another positive outcome of the grant program is getting the word out to more researchers about the support the library offers in this area.

headshot of Chris Kollen
Christine Kollen

"Researchers usually don't think of contacting us to purchase datasets," Data Curation Librarian Christine Kollen. “I'm thrilled that we're offering this program. It will be a huge advantage to research on campus, not only for the successful applicants, but to any other UA researcher or student who will also have access to the data." 

headshot of cindy elliott
Cindy Elliott

According to Kollen, the grant program also dovetails nicely with the research data management, geospatial data, and data science services the library's Office of Digital Innovation & Stewardship provides. "With our upcoming release of ReDATA, the UA Data Repository, we now have a platform for discovery and access to datasets, with the ability to limit access to our campus." 

All grant awardees will be asked to give a talk hosted by the library about how they used the data in their research, submit a research artifact to the UA Campus Repository or the UA Data Repository, and acknowledge the library's support in any publications that result from the research.

Collections Librarian Cindy Elliott, said, “It's exciting for us to provide a way for researchers to discover and access to datasets in similar ways that students, staff and faculty already access other materials through the library." 

Contact Christine Kollen or Cindy Elliott for questions or more information about the program.