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In March, archivists, technology administrators, records managers, registrars, faculty, librarians and university administrators reviewed the state of play in retention and dissemination of university research at ECURE 2004. Interdisciplinary discussions revealed the wide variety of applications and information policies that impact the future availability of university research data, administrative records and publications.
David Sobel, General Counsel for the Electronic Information Privacy Center, kicked off the event with an informative after-dinner update on the status of the USA Patriot Act and other government efforts to acquire personal information for anti-terrorist investigations. He noted that despite the efforts of EPIC and other concerned organizations, "We really don't know more about the operation of the Patriot Act than we did a year and a half ago." Sobel underscored the differences between information requests authorized by Section 215 of the Patriot Act, National Security Letters, and projects like the Transportation Security Administration's CAPPSII program for screening airline passengers. He also noted places where the Patriot Act has nullified privacy protections of FERPA, and government efforts to acquire information about anti- war demonstrators at Drake University. "What we're seeing is a trend of continuing to expand both the government's authority to seek information and also to expand the categories of information that can be obtained."
The following morning Clifford Lynch, Executive Director of the Coalition for Networked Information, offered his fifth ECURE keynote address over breakfast. Dr. Lynch focused on the increasing interdependence of teaching, research and scholarly communication. Using learning management systems as an example, Lynch said "It's getting very hard to tell what's a record, what is research, and what is teaching and learning." He also noted that international, inter-institutional and student/faculty collaborations are making ownership of intellectual property a much more complex issue than before, and that most universities are not addressing these "hard issues".
Lynch continued by citing the recently approved policy of the National Institutes of Health that requires recipients of large grants to include a plan for preserving and disseminating research data. He noted that some scholarly publishers now require that raw data be made accessible as part of the agreement to publish research results. But Lynch also recognized that disciplinary repositories and scholarly associations often fund data retention through grants and even single bequests. "Government funding is a dangerous thing to count on across long periods of time. How are we going to bring disciplinary content back into universities when we have funding failures elsewhere?"
Nineteen other speakers from universities and businesses across the United States and Canada reviewed a variety of research data management and dissemination issues including institutional repositories, metadata creation and management, digital signatures, federated databases, student privacy, website preservation and records management for learning management systems. Many of the sessions featured examples of direct collaborations between information professionals and research faculty. Presenters and attendees hailed from prestigious research universities such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford.
Presentation slides from the conference sessions and the videostreamed Sobel and Lynch keynotes are being added to the ECURE 2004 site archives (www.asu.edu/ecure/archives.html). ECURE 2005 will be held in March at Arizona State University and the Call for Papers is currently available.