The College of University Libraries & Learning Sciences operates Lobo Vault, an institutional repository in which UNM makes faculty research papers, theses completed by master’s degree candidates, dissertations by Ph.D. candidates and other work by the UNM community available to the public.  Now, University Libraries are going a step further and organizing and posting data sets, the original information that underlies university research in Lobo Vault.

It’s part of a revolution that is opening the original research data to the world.  The U.S. government funds a large part of the research at universities in the United States and researchers are required to submit papers that detail their findings in their area of funded research.  The public learns about the research when the news media report the research that is published in professional journals.  But the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy is pushing research transparency to the next level.  The office published a memo instructing federal agencies to take steps to expand access to information.  There is also a bill pending before Congress to require federal agencies to expand public access.

UL&LS, working with the Association of Research Libraries, is working to develop ways for the public to access the actual databases researchers at UNM use to draw research conclusions.  Data Curation Librarian Jon Wheeler works with faculty members to publish their data sets in Lobo Vault.

He worked with emeritus UNM faculty members Garland Bills and Neddy A Vigil to publish the data that was the foundation of their book, “The Spanish Language of New Mexico and Southern Colorado: A Linguistic Atlas.”  Anyone who wants to study their comprehensive quantitative survey of New Mexican Spanish can find it under Research Datasets in Lobo Vault.

Wheeler says when he talks with faculty members about their research he brings up the question, “If you were hit by a bus, how would your colleagues or your graduate students interpret and use your data or would they have to start from scratch?”  It helps faculty members understand how important it is to put their research into a form that can be useful to others.

When faculty members put their research data into the Lobo Vault, it also gives university administrators a clear easy way to look at what the faculty is actually generating in terms of research and a good view of where the institutions research strengths can be found.