Return on Investment Workshop Jan 25-26 2017 Tempe AZ

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Many environmental data repositories were initiated to fulfill specific needs or objectives, i.e. archiving and disseminating data from a project, network of research sites, institution, funding source, to accompany paper publications, or more recently, as data papers. The Collaborative Strategies for Sustained Environmental Data Management initiative was funded by the National Science Foundation with the goal of exploring how we might develop this network of repositories in a way that will produce new collaboration and curation strategies that also cater to the currently underserved single investigators and move environmental data from ‘available’ to ‘usable’, in order to accelerate scientific inquiry. With this goal in mind this initiative brought together data curators from a range of environmental research fields, data aggregators, tool developers, computer scientists and environmental scientists (both data providers and users) for a workshop at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, in November 2015 to draw upon their collective experience managing data and repositories. The Sustainable Data Management group at ESIP formed in late 2015 as a result of the Tempe workshop. The group’s goal is to investigate pathways for sustainable increased collaboration and coordination in the area of environmental data management that will benefit both research networks and also individual investigators. The group has three major activities: Developing a framework for describing Return on Investment (ROI) in data repositories; describing the landscape of data services offered by repositories, to identify gaps; and defining a Common Technical Vision to sustain data, rather than the repositories themselves.

Purpose of Workshop

The specific purpose of this workshop is to examine the current approaches to evaluating the ROI of research data repositories and explore potential methodologies for measuring and reporting the Return on Investment (ROI) in various settings. This working session will look at existing approaches, consider potential methods, identify best practices and recommend useful metrics.

The desired outcomes are:

  • Proposed approach(es) for assessing the ROI of existing repositories
  • Suggested best practices
  • Defined metrics

Defining “Return on Investment”

Defining Return on Investment in the research data repository setting is challenging, but in normal business terms calculating the return on an investment (ROI) provides an assessment of the efficiency of an investment by performing a comparison of the amount invested versus the gain resulting from the investment. It is calculated by dividing the measured benefit by the cost of the investment and is normally expressed as a ratio or percentage:

ROI = (Calculated gain from investment - Cost of investment)/Cost of investment


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