Saturday, November 19, 2016

RDC analyst access to documentation

The RDC analyst here asked me for the documentation for the NLSCY synthetic files from cycles 5-8. She has a researcher who would like the documentation to prepare code outside the RDC and take it in. I was surprised that an RDC analyst would be asking for this on behalf of a researcher rather than directing the researcher to me and I suggested that if the researcher is affiliated, that he/she should get in touch with me. The response I got back made it seem like the analyst might be preparing the code for the researcher. In re-reading her two e-mails, perhaps she was just using the first person to refer to her own experience before she was an RDC analyst as an example, but assuming she does want to get the documentation for herself I wanted to double check.

As you might imagine I'm not concerned about the level of service she provides to her researchers in general, but I am wondering  whether there have been any changes in how we deliver DLI services on a campus that also has an RDC. In the olden days there seemed to be a pretty tall wall between DLI and RDC data (I'm not talking about documentation here - just data files). Is it still okay to give the documentation to the analyst or because these are synthetic files do I have to confirm that the researcher is affiliated even for the codebooks, etc?

It's very likely that the researcher will be affiliated and that the analyst is simply being really nice in providing assistance to the researcher, but it's also possible that he or she might be from outside the institution because the RDC does allow non-institution researchers. As such, I'm reluctant simply to point to SDA without having determined a little more about the situation. If she ends up wanting the data as well I can remind her of the DLI conditions of use with the synthetic data (authorized user/authorized use), although I expect she's aware of this.

There are about a thousand other nuances to this, but my main question is whether I am allowed to grab the documentation for the analyst just like I might for any pumf and any other researcher (not whether there might be a better way, although I'm also interested in this).

I feel like the way I've posed my questions/comments makes it seem like I'm being territorial, but this is not the case. I really just don't know what the protocol is in this case. I kind of have it in my head that the RDC analysts have everything at their fingertips and therefore it comes as a surprise when I find out that this mightn't be the case.

In regards to “whether I am allowed to grab the documentation for the analyst just like I might for any PUMF…” it’s suggested that you ask the analyst to have the researcher contact you directly. That way you can determine if the researcher is eligible for the services of the DLI. The synthetic files are not available in the RDC so the researcher should seek them out on her own, or through your library as a DLI member. She can produce code and bring it in the RDC provided her research proposal has been approved.

To further add, a DLI librarian should not be asked by the analyst for RDC materials. An analyst is to direct the researcher to the DLI if DLI services are required for their analysis. Also, DLI material is not placed on RDC servers, therefore, there should be no need to even ask DLI to grab documentation.