In October we had the opportunity to participate in the annual workshop of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI), held at Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics in Wadern (Saarland, Germany) on the topic “Facilitating Process and Metadata-Driven Automation in the Social, Economic, and Behavioural Sciences with the Data Documentation Initiative”.
The DDI standard is an international metadata standard facilitating the description of research data from the social, economic, behavioral and health sciences. Describing research data with DDI – the most current version being DDI Lifecycle 3.2 – helps ensure that data can be understood and interpreted, now and in the future, by both humans and computers (see http://www.ddialliance.org/).
The instructors of the workshop – Michelle Edwards (Cornell University), Arofan Gregory (Open Data Foundation), Wendy Thomas (University of Minnesota), and Joachim Wackerow (GESIS), succeeded in creating a both cheerful and educational atmosphere to introduce the participants from all over the world to DDI-Lifecycle 3.2.
The workshop provided a balanced mixture of theoretical input and hands-on training. Theoretical sessions covered the “basics” of DDI, extended to relevant software and how to use DDI in the description of variables and questionnaires, and finally the reuse of metadata as well as the comparison and harmonization of data sets and metadata.
The structure of the workshop and especially the practical parts were sufficiently flexible to allow them to be perfectly adapted to the participants’ needs and their use cases. Practical sessions included exercises on the work with DDI and XML in general as well as breakout sessions, for example on “DDI Metadata Collection for Data Portals with Distributed Data Sources” and “Metadata mapping procedure from a structured source document”. Results of the breakout sessions were partly captured in output papers and will be published on the brand new DDI website (http://www.ddialliance.org/).
The workshop was rounded off with several social events. It offered an excellent introduction to DDI for researchers, archivists, and anyone working with metadata for research data. Participation in future events is therefore highly recommended!