A closer look at Data Vault
On 30 June the Data Vault project organised an Implementation Workshop at the Lift Youth Hub in London (an interesting venue). Data Vault is a joint project of the University of Edinburgh and University of Manchester, and like DMAOnline is funded as part of the Jisc Research Data Spring. I was curious to see how the project had developed and if we at Lancaster might be interested in using Data Vault ourselves at some point.
Stuart Lewis of Edinburgh University introduced Data Vault, the technology and the use cases they foresee. I was very impressed how mature the tool seems to be. In a nutshell, Data Vault is a tool that enables researchers to archive larger datasets in order to keep it safe and retrievable. Data Vault “deep freezes” data. It is not a backup tool nor does it preserve data (as tools like Archivematica do) but it can help for example when a project is finished and active (and expensive) data storage needs to be freed, or you can save a “full copy” of experimental data including notes and other information that is not necessarily suitable for publishing.
The discussions about use cases were really interesting. Stuart confirmed that in Edinburgh is a demand for a service like this. Interestingly, each Data Vault requires a dataset entry in Pure and the metadata will be visible on Edinburgh’s data catalogue DataShare. The data will be in most cases not available to the public although access can be granted on request. I can see also see uses cases at Lancaster University, perhaps for depositing sensitive data. It does need careful explanation and training of researchers on what the appropriate use is for different tools.
Data Vault includes a dashboard for administrators. There might be the potential to include Data Vault in the DMAOnline dashboard at a later stage. Anybody who is technically minded can have a look at GitHub. As it is the case for all Jisc funded project, the code of Data Vault is available open source. We are looking forward to seeing the progress of Data Vault!