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Informatics Professor Crista Lopes’ research project evolves into a UC-wide library data-sharing portal, the DASH system.

The Data Sharing Made Easy (DASH) system—the University of California’s (UC) newest solution to research data sharing and archiving—traces its roots back to data portal projects pioneered by Informatics Professor Crista Lopes.

DASH launched as a UC-wide system in 2014, with several school-specific iterations across the UC system, as a self-service curation system that enables users to describe, upload and share their research data. According to the California Digital Library (CDL), DASH allows users to perform tasks that include “preparing data for curation by reviewing best practice guidance for the creation or acquisition of digital research data, select data for curation through local file browse or drag-and-drop operation, describe data in terms of the DataCite metadata schema, identify data with a persistent digital object identifier (DOI) for permanent citation and discovery, preserve, manage, and share data by uploading to a public Merritt repository collection, and discover and retrieve data through faceted search and browse.”

While the system is a CDL project, it got its start with a prior National Science Foundation-funded project dubbed CALSWIM, for which Lopes served as principal investigator. The four-year project, which ran from 2007-2011, aimed to enable data sharing among scientists and the general public. “Everyone with an account in the system could upload metadata about their datasets and even the datasets themselves, and then a search function would make those data discoverable to others via multiple interfaces,” Lopes explains.

CALSWIM then evolved into a more developed data portal dubbed EcoDataPortal, which Lopes built in collaboration with Sarah Kimball, project scientist at the Center for Environmental Biology. “We then wanted to make the portal sustainable for the long run, beyond any research project, so we approached the Library to see if they wanted to take over and really expand on the idea of sharing data sets,” Lopes says.

The data sharing portal began as a project called DataShare, a collaboration between the University of California Curation Center, the UC San Francisco (UCSF) Library, and the UCSF Clinical and Translational Science Institute. In addition to revamping the dissemination of data for UC researchers across the system, the DASH system also serves the public through DataONE DASH. Anyone, regardless of UC-affiliation, can search the system and deposit data with their Google credentials.

“I’m thrilled with DASH! It’s a great example of research going into production for the public good,” Lopes says.

— Story by Courtney Hamilton