Stellenbosch University's Library and Information Service has reached another milestone as South African leader in open access to knowledge with the launch of its SUNScholarData repository.
In the past decade, the management of research data has taken on a more prominent role in tertiary education institutions around the world. This has been primarily due to the increasingly data-centric nature that academic research has taken.
As a leading research institution, Stellenbosch University (SU) is helping to address this issue by taking the necessary steps to adopt appropriate data management practices. One of these steps is the establishment of an institutional research data repository at the University called SUNScholarData.
SU's Library and Information Service officially launched it on Monday, 12 August 2019 at The Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in Stellenbosch.
During the launch event Ms Ellen Tise, Senior Director: Library and Information Services at SU, excitedly shared her joy with those in attendance about finally launching SUNScholarData. According to Tise, it has taken over seven years to establish and launch SUNScholarData, making it the longest project the library has embarked on in recent years.
“It has been quite a long journey. The day has finally arrived for Stellenbosch University to join the growing number of institutions around the world who have established research data repository. I'm super excited and so pleased that we have come this far," Tise said.
The implementation of SUNScholarData forms part of the Library and Information Service's role regarding research data support which has been identified as a strategic objective of the Library and Information Service in terms of supporting research by providing world-class, diverse, innovative and client-oriented services.
Some of the set of services that SUNScholarData as institutional research data repository will provide is to capture, store, index, preserve and redistribute the University's research data in digital formats. There are also two purposes for relying on an institutional research data repository. Firstly, this would create a medium through which SU's research data can be made findable and accessible. Secondly, it would facilitate the interoperability and re-usability of the University's research data.
Prof Eugene Cloete, Vice-Rector (Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies) at SU, said in his welcoming at the event the launch of SUNScholarData was a direct result of the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities that SU signed in 2010.
“The Library and Information Service has really taken the lead in South Africa when it comes to open access and it started way back in 2010 when we became the first university to sign the Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities. Since then the library has strengthened and developed its own initiatives including SUNScholar, an open institutional repository established in 2008, SUNJournals, an open journal-hosting platform established in 2011, and then SUNDigital Collections, a digital heritage repository established in 2013 and now we continue with our open science journey with the launch of SUNScholarData," said Cloete.
The main functionalities of SUNScholarData will help with research data management, research data dissemination, administrative workflow management, impact and usage reporting.
Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor believes that SUNScholar will be a leading digital archive for the preservation and promotion of the research output of Stellenbosch University.
“Our Vision 2040 is to become 'Africa's leading research-intensive university, globally recognised as excellent, inclusive and innovative, where we advance knowledge in service of society' – and SUNScholarData will help us get there," De Villiers remarked at the launch.
For more information on SUNScholarData and SU's Library and Information Service's other repository platforms, click here.
Photos by Hennie Rudman.