March 22-23 2001
Council Participants: Margo Anderson (Chair), Stephen Fienberg, Diane Geraci, Ann Green, John Korey, Steven Ruggles, James Sweet, Bo Wandschneider
ICPSR Staff Participants: Erik Austin, Chris Dunn, Peter Granda, John Gray, Hank Heitowit, Peter Joftis, Stacey Kubitz, James McNally, Mary Morris, Kathleen Thomson, Mary Vardigan, Janet Vavra, Myron Gutmann (Director Designate)
Membership Structure Discussion
At its October 2000 meeting, Council set aside a four-hour period at its March 2001 meeting to initiate a discussion and review of ICPSR's membership structure. That discussion occurred on March 22, 2001, from 8:00 a.m.-noon. H. Heitowit began the discussion by noting that the move toward individuals'direct access of ICPSR data at member institutions and the implication of that for federated members called for an examination of the membership structure at ICPSR and, in turn, an examination of alternative models. He then introduced the materials assembled for the session including current membership structure and fees; an overview of the recently revised Carnegie Classification system for universities and colleges in the U.S.; a detailed display showing how the current membership structure would be reconfigured within the Carnegie Classifications; and information on fees and membership structures of a number of somewhat comparable subscription services used by institutions in higher education. He reiterated that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues and generate ideas, not to formulate a new classification scheme solely out of the four-hour discussion. It is expected that the review of ICPSR's membership structure will be ongoing.
Discussion was wide-ranging. Advantages of the Carnegie Classification system are that it is objective, external to ICPSR, and widely accepted in the academic community. A disadvantage is that the scheme is in flux; it was recently revised and another revision is planned for 2005. Rather than switching to another system, one suggestion discussed was to reevaluate members' ICPSR category. The ICPSR classification scheme was developed at least 30 years ago; colleges and universities have changed substantially over those years. A membership category selected by a school twenty years ago, or even ten years ago, might not reflect the state of that university today in terms of doctoral programs and university size. Another suggestion proposed was creation of a "Super A" category to augment the existing membership categories. Such a category could be used to reclassify the very large research universities.
The idea of tying usage to dues was discussed and largely rejected. ICPSR membership fees should not be based on usage; ICPSR membership should reflect a commitment to the social sciences. Members should view themselves as partners in building social science infrastructure and in promoting research and teaching in the social sciences. ICPSR is a digital archive; one aspect of our mission is to preserve data for future researchers, much the same way libraries acquire and preserve books and other materials.
Classification schemes and fee structures for JSTOR, Project Muse and other organizations were discussed. A distinction between subscriber and member was addressed. ICPSR is a membership organization, with a council elected by members to establish policy. It is not a subscription service as are some of the other models presented. It was suggested that ICPSR investigate the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), a membership organization for libraries that might provide a model for membership categories and fee structure.
The revenue issue was raised; is one aim of the review to produce more revenue? There was some support for the notion that an increase in fees would not be out of line with what other membership/subscription services charge, yet recognition that raising fees for smaller schools might jeopardize their membership. There was support for the idea that any change in classification that results in substantial dues increases should be phased in over time.
The Council promised to return to this discussion at a later time, and to address at that time such matters as the nature and characteristics of federated and national ICPSR membership categories.
Policy and Planning Committee
ICPSR Council Members Present: Margo Anderson (chair), Jim Sweet, Bo Wandschneider.
ICPSR Staff Present: Erik Austin, Myron Gutmann, Kathleen Thomson
Director Search: The committee welcomed Myron Gutmann, the new Director selected by the search committee. He will officially begin his term as Director on August 1, 2001. In the meantime, Gutmann will spend a few days each month in Ann Arbor, meeting with employees and others at U-M and starting to learn about ICPSR's needs and activities.
Facilities: Problems with the Borders Building (including air handling and an audible/visible fire alarm system) have concerned Council and staff for a considerable length of time. It was agreed that these problems had persisted for far too long. Indeed, Gutmann has insisted that these problems needed to be remedied as a condition of his accepting the position as Director. Staff reported that Dorothy Russell (ISR's Assistant Director) has negotiated an agreement with Borders Group, Inc. (the landlord of the 311 Maynard facility) for Borders to perform the remediation work, and receive reimbursement for it from ISR/ICPSR. Such a development holds tangible promise of significantly improving the work environment for the ICPSR staff. Russell attended Thursday's plenary Council session to explain in more detail the latest developments of efforts to improve the air handling in the Borders Building. She was joined by Dave Stockson, the University architect working on the air handling change. Together they described an engineering solution that will relocate one of the main air intakes to the building. Stockson estimated that work could be completed on that solution by the end of July 2001.
Draft architectural drawings of the proposed Perry addition space were examined by the Committee. The current drawings will undoubtedly be modified several times, so the current set was not univesally distributed at this time. There was a brief discussion of general issues such as the importance of checking on the air ventilation systems of this new building.
Perry Addition Loan: There is now a Memorandum of Understanding and a Memorandum of Commitment because the UM does not like to have legal contracts between two UM departments. Financial transactions for the addition will take place within UM and so there will not be a written contract between UM units regarding the interest payments. An agreement has been worked out, however, and looked over by both UM and Council lawyers. The document seems reasonable and fairly straightforward. The start dates are not yet clear and these dates would impact the interest amount, so the document avoids putting in specific dates. Myron as Director will be responsible for overseeing the interest payments and making sure the agreement is followed.
Nominating Committee: Council needs to choose two persons (not currently members of Council) to serve on the 2001 Nominating Committee. That committee is charged with selecting the slate of nominees for the Fall Council election. The Policy and Planning Committee suggested two individuals for the Nominating Committee: Margaret Hedstrom (University of Michigan) and Randy Olsen (Ohio State University). Names will also be solicited from the Council as a whole.
DDI: In February, ICPSR empaneled a group of four independent evaluators to review the work of the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) project. Their reviews were extremely positive. ICPSR will submit a proposal to NSF to continue DDI development; that proposal is due in August, 2001. The DDI Committee and the ICPSR staff determined that Richard Rockwell should continue his involvement in the project, and he is more than willing to do this. Staff noted continuing questions about how to structure and administer such a grant. Richard has suggested two parallel proposals, one from ICPSR and one from the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut. The Committee recommended that staff have discussions with Rockwell to decide the division of effort and the structure of a proposal (or proposals).
Upcoming Council dates: Eight dates were suggested by staff for Council meetings in 2002, and hotel room blocs were tentatively booked for those dates. The dates are: March 14-17; March 21-24; June 13-16; June 20-23; October 3-6; October 17-20; November 7-10; and November 21-24. Most of these dates are at busy times for hotels in Ann Arbor, with the Campus Inn hotel pressuring staff to decide ASAP or release dates. The Committee decided to release the November dates, but keep the remainder until January of 2002, when six newly-elected members can be solicited about most favorable dates for holding 2002's three Council meetings. The question of scheduling a Fall Council meeting separate from the October OR meeting was discussed as well. The Committee recommended fitting in an abbreviated Council meeting to the OR meeting, arguing that this would allow Council members to attend both during the same time period. Council, in plenary session, approved that suggestion. Council members also suggested a luncheon meeting (on either Friday or Saturday of the OR meeting) of Council and representatives from national memberships, to begin a discussion of the national member component of the membership structure.
Archival Development Committee
ICPSR Council Members Present: Diane Geraci (Co-Chair), Ann Green, Steve Ruggles
ICPSR Staff Present: Peter Granda, Mary Vardigan
Publicizing and Announcing the Collection Development Policy: The policy is complete and has been approved by Council. We can now turn to ways to publicize it broadly. The Committee suggested the following mechanisms:
Hold sessions at May 2001 IASSIST and October 2001 OR meetings on the policy
Publicize it in the ICPSR Bulletin
Add an announcement about it on the Web page
Send out the URL of the policy on OR-ANNOUNCE, ORL, and IASSIST with a cover letter from the Committee
Send the URL to other archives such as NARA, Essex, Roper, Wisconsin, etc.
Census 2000 website: ICPSR's Webmaster has created a design for this new site, which is nearing completion, and we have received the first of the P.L. 94-171 Census 2000 data. Explanatory text for some of the pages of the site needs to be written, but the Committee recommended that the site go public within the next month to capitalize on early interest in the Census 2000. The Committee also discussed additional features for the site, including:
Text to direct users to the types of Census information they want. ICPSR can perform a valuable "filtering" service in providing links to other sites. For example, if people want tabulations and not the raw data that ICPSR offers, we should send them to American Factfinder, or other appropriate sources. Ann Green has a list of relevant Census 2000 sites and will provide them for use on the site.
Comprehensive Help information in using Census data
Finding aids by geography. A clickable map to assist users in locating and downloading state-level data was endorsed by the Committee. If time permits, adding a geographic tree structure would be helpful so that users could select a unit of geography.
It was further noted that the Joint Project Agreement with the Census Bureau has not yet been finalized.
Election 2000 Project: The Committee endorsed the gathering of data on the 2000 election and rejected the idea that such activity might be construed as partisan. The Committee also recommended broadening the scope of the project by bringing together other holdings on elections and creating a new special topic archive on elections. Developing an instructional tool based on the 2000 election, for distribution through the Site for Instructional Materials and Information (SIMI), was also discussed.
Economic Data to Acquire: While we have not been able to renew our subscription to IMF data, we have received permission to download and permanently archive data from the NBER website. Staff will query the ORs to determine which datasets they are interested in having ICPSR acquire and archive.
Secure Data Enclave Procedures: ICPSR has designated a room in the Borders Building to serve as the secure data enclave until the move to the Perry Building in early 2004. Currently, the contents of the room are a non-networked PC and several filing cabinets. Having the space set aside in this way means that ICPSR can take in sensitive data that require secure procedures. It is envisioned that all incoming data will eventually be acquired through this secure channel until evaluated for confidentiality/disclosure concerns. Having a secure data enclave may also be viewed as a plus in going after future grants.
ICPSR needs to constitute a subcommittee of the Archival Development Committee to recommend a set of procedures for the enclave. Several names were mentioned and staff will bring a list of recommendations to the Acting Director.
Recent Grants Funded: These included the following:
A renewal for the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD) from the Bureau of Justice Statistics
A supplement to the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support an evaluation of the effort
NSF funding for archiving and preservation of the data gathered for the National Historical Geographical Information System by the University of Minnesota, plus the inclusion of the University of Texas subcontract with Myron Gutmann as PI contributing data and metadata from the agricultural censuses of the U.S.
A subcontract to AJJA, a consulting firm contracting with Health Canada, for the purpose of continuing the development of the DDI specification through periodic meetings
DDI Project Update: A formal evaluation of the project, which had been requested by NSF, was held on February 22. The four evaluators' reports have all been received and were quite positive.
A small meeting will be held in April 2001 in the Netherlands for the purpose of agreeing on a model for describing aggregate/tabular data. The full DDI Committee will meet in Washington, DC, on June 29. Several possible revisions to the specification are currently under discussion by the Committee; if approved these revisions will be part of Version 1.02 of the DDI specification.
It was also noted that the Council of European Social Science Data Archives (CESSDA) has set up a special DDI workgroup, which is discussing, among other things, controlled vocabularies for DDI. The level of support for the DDI in Europe is high. The DDI is also being used by several other groups, including IPUMS and the California Digital Libraries.
Infrastructure Project Update: A report was submitted detailing progress to date on this project. Recent activity has involved marking up the ICPSR study descriptions according to the DDI, developing a thesaurus of social science subject terms, compiling citations of publications related to ICPSR data, planning a workshop around a complex dataset (2000 Census), and implementing website recommendations suggested by Argus Associates. Still to be constructed is a variable-level database. As we design the database, it was suggested that we investigate the ontology model as an alternative to assigning concepts to each variable.
Preservation Policy: Janet Vavra had prepared a paper laying out several issues and challenges that ICPSR faces in terms of preservation. The Committee suggested that ICPSR develop a preservation policy as a companion to its collection development policy and offered to help Janet write the policy. As a first step, the Committee will collect preservation policies from organizations similar to ICPSR.
There are several categories of materials that the preservation policy needs to address, including the NAPA studies that were acquired and released as software-dependent portable files; OSIRIS codebooks that are gradually being converted to SAS and SPSS data definition statements; original files acquired in software-specific formats; sensitive data with confidentiality issues; and PDF files. We need to determine volume and risk with respect to each of these categories. Non-ASCII files are of greatest concern.
IRB Information for the Membership: This issue was not formally discussed by the Committee but was summarized by Jim Sweet during the Committee report. The crux of the issue is that Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are adopting increasingly stringent rules regarding human subjects. At some schools, all proposals involving secondary analysis must pass IRB reviews, and in come cases students doing papers on archived data have to obtain IRB approval as well. At this point, ICPSR's role is not clear, but action may be necessary in the future. This could involve ICPSR's requesting a copy of IRB approval with every newly acquired dataset; certifying that ICPSR data meet specific standards regarding human subjects; and/or weighing in on the policy debate surrounding this issue.
Quantitative Research and Training Committee
ICPSR Council Member Present: John Korey
ICPSR Staff Present: Dieter Burrell, Henry Heitowit, Jim McNally.
Methodology Conference: ICPSR is co-sponsoring a special conference on "Spatial Analysis in Social Research," with the Center for Spatially Integrated Social Sciences (CSISS). This advanced workshop will be held in Ann Arbor, May 18 to 20, 2001. Twenty scholars from across the nation and representing a half a dozen disciplines have been invited to participate.
2001 Summer Training Program: Publicity information, brochures, and preliminary mailings on the 2001 Summer Program have been mailed out to OR's and other relevant groups. The 2001 Summer Program website was also activated in late February. Initial applications to the 2001 Program are way up in comparison to comparable dates from previous Programs. This appears to be due to the increased use of the Web-based application procedures. At the suggestion from a number of sources (including Council), a Bayesian methods course was added to the curriculum for the first time this year.
External Review of Summer Program: Over the next several months the staff will be preparing for an external review of the Summer Program.
Jerome M. Clubb Award: The staff proposed and the Committee endorsed the creation of the Jerome M. Clubb Award. The award is a competition for a fee waiver to attend the Quantitative History workshop in the Summer Program. It is aimed at encouraging advanced graduate students in History and related social sciences to integrate quantitative and historical research methods into their research. The Award will be jointly sponsored by the Social Science History Association. It is named after Jerry Clubb, former Executive Director of ICPSR and co-founder of SSHA.
Helen Newberry House: After a two-year hiatus, the Summer Program will return to its traditional home base of Helen Newberry House, on the University of Michigan central campus. Considerable updating to the facilities of the building will be implemented to accommodate increased computer hardware and more air- conditioned study space.
Instructional Materials: The remainder of the meeting was devoted to a discussion of the recommendations of the ICPSR Council "Instructional Materials and Information Subcommittee"(IMIS). This group met in San Francisco, February 24. About 4 years ago ICPSR established the "Site for Instructional Materials and Information." To coordinate the site's content IMIS was also created. John Korey is currently the chair of the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee made a number of suggestions which were discussed by both this Committee and the full Council later in the day.
We need to find ways to encourage faculty to submit materials for inclusion on the SIMI website. Several instructional modules will placed there to serve as models. The description of SIMI will be rewritten to emphasize that materials in the site have been and will be peer reviewed for academic quality. A number of ideas were developed for promoting and advertising the site, including a Bulletin article, fliers, and mailings.
As the site develops its organization needs to be updated for usability and ease of use. Links to other teaching resources need to be explored. This could be divided into two types. The first consists of sites designed explicitly for instructional purposes, in essence "off-the-shelf" products that are ready to use with little start-up costs. A second category would include products that might require some "value added" material to make the product instructionally useful.
The Subcommittee made some minor editorial changes in the current SIMI site and the staff will work on these changes.
Finally IMIS made several suggestions for promoting this set of activities at various sessions and times throughout the October 2001 OR meeting, most especially at the Saturday morning session devoted to "Using Data in the Classroom."
Budget Committee Meeting
ICPSR Council Members Present: Steve Fienberg (chair), Margo Anderson, Jim Sweet
ICPSR Staff Present: Erik Austin, Stacey Kubitz, Myron Gutmann
2002 Draft Budget: Staff presented a draft of the FY 2002 budget for Committee and Council discussion and comment. [N.B. In accordance with the Memorandum of Agreement, the draft budget had been approved by Dorothy Russell (ISR's Assistant Director) for compliance with ISR and University of Michigan regulations as well as for soundness prior to submission to the Council.] Highlights of the budget presented to the Committee included an anticipated better-than-expected FY 2001 year-end balance of approximately $232,370 in revenues over expenses; a projected increase in revenue for FY 2002 to approximately $8.03 million; and an anticipated $69,000 in revenues over expenses in FY 2002. ICPSR Business Manager Stacey Kubitz noted that the FY 2002 budget included all associated costs for new Director Myron Gutmann, including the encumbering of funds for the Director's future sabbatical and tenure commitments.
Committee members asked staff about the longer-term fiscal prospects for ICPSR. In the budget exercise that Kubitz had just finished for ISR, projections of ICPSR revenues and expenditures had been forecast through 2004. These projections had showed positive year-end balances for ICPSR in each year through 2004. (Only one of the other four revenue-producing units within ISR showed annual positive balances in each of the four years that were projected.) The Committee discussed its concerns about the adequacy of amounts budgeted for FY 2002 in two areas: the Computing and Network Services unit (given anticipated additional staff costs for the full roll-out of direct access to individuals on member campuses); and the retrofit scanning of paper codebooks by the Electronic Document Conversion unit within Archival Development. Committee chair Steve Fienberg strongly advocated the garnering of input from Official Representatives assembled at the 2001 OR Meeting on long-term directions for ICPSR, so that adequate budgeting for such new directions could be undertaken. A final future budget issue was raised by Acting Director Erik Austin, who noted that a number of staff currently supported on the NSF Infrastructure grant would probably need to be retained after the expiration of that grant (in 2003), with their salaries assumed by membership dues.
The Committee endorsed the budget as presented, and recommended it to the plenary meeting of the Council. At that plenary meeting, Committee chair Fienberg complimented the staff (chiefly Business Manager Kubitz) on the clarity of the budget displays now being presented to Council, noting that it facilitated using budget information to plan for the future. In the Council discussion of the budget, members reiterated the need for a five-year Information Technology plan (to be able to assess the financial consequences of directions to be undertaken). The Council questioned the need for surpluses each year, rather than allocation of unspent revenue to programmatic needs. Finally, it was noted that collection efforts on $273,000 of unpaid bills sent to the National Institute of Justice (for expenditures incurred prior to the end of 1999) may not be completely successful, due to limited ability of the staff to recover receipts for some expenses incurred that long ago. Council was alerted to the possibility of covering between $50,000-100,000 of those expenses with other funds.
Over the next two months, staff will refine the preliminary FY 2002 budget, incorporating additional months of actual FY 2001 revenues and expenditures, and augmenting FY 2002 figures for initiatives proposed during the March Council meeting (described below, and in reports of other Committees found elsewhere in these minutes). The final budget will be presented at the June 2001 Council meeting for final approval, after again being vetted by ISR.
Fund Balance Comparison Analysis: At its October 2000 meeting, Council had asked staff to research the fund balances of comparable membership organizations. The goal of this analysis was to ascertain whether ICPSR's level of reserves was in line with that of comparable organizations, or whether our unrestricted assets were considerably lower than those of other entities. The Committee examined a display that had assembled fund balance data for several organizations (OCLC, JSTOR, SCUP, NBER, and ARL). While some inequities were readily apparent, the Committee concluded that ICPSR's level of fund balance appeared to be in line with most of the comparable organizations. The Committee assured the full Council that ICPSR's fund balance seems reasonable at the present time.
Capital Improvement Encumbrance in ICPSR's Fund Balance: During FY 2000, Council had directed staff to encumber $300,000 of its reserves for capital improvement expenses (specifically the replacement of ICPSR's main file servers). In December of 2000, two new Sun Enterprise 3500 servers were purchased using those encumbered funds. As is true for most anticipated computing hardware purchases, the actual purchase price was far less than the amount staff had estimated would be needed (and which amount was encumbered). Only $100,000 was required to replace the servers. The Committee discussed and approved a staff proposal to reallocate the remaining $200,000 in encumbered capital improvement funds. Under the staff proposal, half of the residual encumbered amount ($100,000) would remain encumbered for the next capital equipment/server upgrade. The final $100,000 of the original amount encumbered would be reprogrammed in three ways. $50,000 would be re-encumbered to help pay for furnishing the Perry Addition space to be occupied by ICPSR staff in early 2004*. $30,000 would be spent in the Spring of 2001 to purchase fifty (50) flat-screen monitors (for use in the 2001 Summer Training Program and then, in the Fall of 2001, for redistribution to ICPSR staff). Finally, $20,000 would be re-encumbered for equipping ICPSR's secure data enclave, to be located in the Perry Addition.
An additional component affecting the totality of ICPSR's fund balance was also discussed by the Committee. Due to increased estimated construction costs of the Perry Addition, each ISR unit's contribution to that building fund had to be raised. ICPSR's share is now calculated to be $807,000, rather than the $750,000 first estimated. The Committee thus developed a second budget proposal to set funds aside for specific future needs. That proposal specified increasing the required fund balance (and concomitant loan to the Perry Addition building fund) by $57,000, to be drawn from the Discretionary portion of ICPSR's Fund Balance; the new amount of the required fund balance would thus be $807,000. In addition, the proposal established another encumbered fund, for furnishings at the Perry Addition, to be funded over a two-and-a-half-year period. That encumbered fund would accumulate to the $250,000 needed for these furnishings. Contributions to that fund would be the $50,000 reallocated from the Capital Improvement Funds (under the first budget proposal described above); and $100,000 in excess revenue over expenditures in each of the next two fiscal years (FY 2002 and FY 2003).
At the plenary session, the Budget Committee moved to support the two budget proposals described just above. These were (1) reallocation of the Capital Improvement Funds; and (2) increasing the required fund balance to $807,000, and establishing and funding a $250,000 fund balance encumbrance for furnishing the Perry Addition space. The Council voted unanimously to support both of these budget proposals.
Proposed FY 2002 Membership Support for Census 2000: Staff presented, as requested, an estimate of the member dues contribution to ICPSR's 2000 Census project in FY 2002. That amount is $71,378. It was noted that member dues funds would be supplanted by anticipated grants (from NSF along with other Federal agency contributors) expected in the second half of FY 2002. Committee chair Fienberg recommended approaching the U.S. Department of Transportation for a contribution to this project.
* Staff estimates that $250,000 will be needed to furnish the space assigned to ICPSR in the Perry Addition. The majority of these furnishings expenses will be to replace the cubicles in which about 60% of the staff now work in the Borders Building; the present cubicles are rented from Borders and will not travel to the Perry Addition. The furnishings will be purchased late in 2003, just prior to occupancy (in early 2004) of the Perry Addition space.
Information Technology Committee
Council Members Present: Ann Green (chair), Steve Ruggles
ICPSR Staff Present: John Gray, Peter Joftis, Mary Vardigan, Janet Vavra
The Committee met for two hours, with the last hour a joint meeting with the Member Relations Committee
New Sun Servers: Staff reported that two Sun Enterprise 3500 servers arrived recently, and they will be brought on line over the next 6 weeks. These were purchased by ICPSR with a matching grant from SUN (buy one, get one) under their Academic Equipment Grant program, thereby significantly reducing the cost to ICPSR. ICPSR will be asked to submit perfunctory quarterly progress reports to SUN as the only obligation for the grant.
New Web Site: Staff reported that the new website was rolled out in February 2001. There have been a few problems, but most of them were tied to the search engine used by the website. Additionally, some users reported problems locating features on the new site that they were comfortable using on the old site. Staff noted that there were some problems that were not easy to identify which involve the crash of the Java engine periodically. Staff was continuing to work on isolating the problems.
Staff will be exploring the use of a splash page making it easier for novice users to navigate the site.
Stata Request: Staff reported that Stata Corporation has approached ICPSR about the development and distribution of Stata statements for our holdings as we now do with SAS/SPSS. Council responded that the value of Stata statements for some users is high, but also noted that generating them was not without cost. It was recommended that staff approach Stata about contributing funds for the considerable personnel time that would be needed to retrofit studies with Stata statements.
DDI Codebook Repository: Staff reported that ICPSR can point to DDI marked-up codebooks from our website. Since these markups involve a variety of versions of the DDI standard, the potential for confusion exists among users of these marked up codebooks. The Committee agreed that while the number of people doing markups is still very small, it is important for us to keep track of them and their work.
California Digital Library: Staff reported that ICPSR is awaiting a response from the California Digital Libraries group. Earlier that group approached ICPSR to collaborate on developing access tools which would include ICPSR holdings in the California group's collections. ICPSR is ready to cooperate in whatever manner California wants. It was reported, however, that the individual heading the California project has resigned.
Strategic Plan: Staff reported that a strategic plan on computing would be done for the June 2001 Council meeting.
Preservation: The Committee noted that ICPSR needed a preservation policy which should be incorporated into its collection development policy, as noted in the document that staff prepared for the committee meeting. Since there will be a collection development policy session at the OR meeting in October, a preservation policy could also be discussed at that time. Committee members suggested an approach which would identify the preservation problems in ICPSR data and the volume of various types of those problems. The Committee requested that a preliminary assessment be prepared, to catalog the magnitude of the problems. Staff noted that a thorough and detailed inventory of such problems would involve the review and evaluation of tens of thousands of files. This is an activity for which it would be appropriate to seek some outside funding.
External Initiatives Review Committee: At the October 2000 Council meeting, it was suggested that a subcommittee be created to review the steady flow of requests that comes into ICPSR requesting collaboration, partnerships, and other cooperation on various technical projects. These requests frequently involve a significant commitment of resources and staff by ICPSR. The Committee, upon reflection, questioned whether a special subcommittee was the appropriate mechanism for reviewing and monitoring such requests.
Staff are currently reviewing several such requests which will need to be resolved shortly. These include the Harvard Project and the GSS site that ICPSR has been maintaining for the last five or so years. The Harvard project involves the maintenance of an earlier version of CDNet that Harvard uses to service its clients. The GSS site would involve updating the site with more recent data from the General Social Survey. Staff noted that ICPSR staff presence at various conferences usually leads to an invitation for future collaboration on some joint project.
Council expressed a willingness to work with the staff to produce an updated list of projects that are currently in-house and which need resolution. The Committee specifically wants to look more closely at the California Digital Library project, the Harvard Project, and the GSS site in order to determine how to proceed with each one. In the meantime, staff should keep written records documenting interactions and activities with these projects.
Direct Access: The Information Technology Committee then joined the Member Relations Committee to discuss the beta test of the Direct Access experiment underway for a number of months, to address concerns, next steps, etc.
Staff distributed a list of the IP addresses in use for each of the first seven institutions included in the beta test group, as well as a list of some thirty institutions that are candidates for Phase 2 of the beta test. The seven member institutions currently beta testing direct access are: the University of California, Los Angeles; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Michigan; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Northwestern University; the State University of New York at Binghamton, and Southern University at Baton Rouge. A summary sheet of IP download activity by the beta test institutions for the February and March period was also included in handouts prepared for the meeting.
The main feedback from the Official Representatives at the beta test sites was the desire to know who is ordering the data in order to provide better service and track usage. The two Committees asked that staff explore mechanisms to capture this information, which would also be very valuable for developing mailing lists for future services.
The Committees discussed the problem of supplying hard-copy codebooks to users directly downloading data files from ICPSR. Currently, any data downloaded that requires hardcopy documentation results in the mailing of the codebook to the institution's OR if the codebook had not been already been supplied within the last two or three years. It was noted that with open access as it currently exists, the OR has no mechanism to know who downloaded the data.
It was agreed that users should be asked to complete an online form the first time they log in and after that they could just log in and begin downloading. Staff noted that it would take some time to implement this, along with handling all the issues that come with online registration. The Council urged that the implementation of the registration by individuals not hamper opening up access more widely. These activities can and should go forward independent of each other.
The Committees agreed that ICPSR should collect the following information from individual users of the direct access facility:
status (student, faculty, etc).
how found out about service
permission to contact
The two Committees presented their report on direct access during a plenary session of Council. It was decided to name this form of open access "ICPSR Direct." Council agreed that ICPSR Direct should be made available as widely as possible throughout the membership, and that an aggressive roll-out plan should be undertaken. Council set a target of approximately fifty institutions enrolled in ICPSR Direct by July 2001.
Council suggested that the ICPSR Direct be marketed in connection with the OR Meeting and that members be notified of the importance of this new service. Procedures and information about ICPSR Direct, along with a terminal to "sign-up," should be provided at the OR meeting. Council also urged that ICPSR set up an internal staff committee, which includes staff from each unit, to oversee and manage the direct access implementation activities.
Member Relations Committee
Council Members Present: Diane Geraci (Co-chair), Bo Wandschneider, John Korey
ICPSR Staff Present: Hank Heitowit, Michelle Humphres, Mary Morris
Membership Activity: The Committee reviewed membership activity from July 1, 2000, to the present. Ten new members have joined ICPSR since the beginning of this fiscal year, somewhat fewer new members enrolled in the prior fiscal year. Staff noted that membership growth has generally fluctuated between fiscal years and do not view the decline as "worrisome."
2001 OR Meeting: The 2001 Official Representatives meeting is scheduled for October 25 - 28, 2001. The Membership Relations Committee reviewed a draft agenda that staff had prepared. Sessions planned include:
Orientation Session for New OR's (to include a roundtable discussion for ORs that wish to participate)
Using ICPSR Resources for Online Analysis: Topical Archives (Additionally, a representative of each Topical Archive will be present in the Pond Room--the computer demo room--during the OR Meeting to demonstrate their website and answer questions.)
Data Documentation Initiative (Update on DDI activities) [Possible session: DDI Training]
Round Table on Teaching Research Methods to Undergraduates
ICPSR Direct (open access on member campuses)
Instructional Uses of Social Science Data
Comparative Research: Eurobarometers and World Value Surveys
Membership Forum (Business Meeting) - Welcoming comments by ICPSR Director and Council Chair, followed by an open forum to solicit reactions to the new ICPSR website, ICPSR Direct, etc. and to gather suggestions for services/products OR would like ICPSR to investigate.
Research Methodology - Hierarchical Linear Models
Data Dissemination Initiatives
Restricted Data/Confidentiality - Secure Data Enclave
ICPSR Direct: The Information Technology Committee joined the Membership Relations Committee to discuss a rollout plan for direct access. [See the minutes, above, from the Information Technology Committee for highlights of the joint Committee discussions.]
Erik Austin, ICPSR's Acting Director, focused his report on "Four P's": People, Preliminary Costs, Progress, and Punctuation.
Erik informed the Council that Zack Allen, Director of the Electronic Document Conversion project, had been hospitalized and was now at home recuperating. Staff and Council wished Zack well and signed cards for him.
Erik conveyed his strong approval of Myron Gutmann as the Search Committee's choice for the new ICPSR Director.
Michelle Humphres, Cathy Zahner, and Gail Chapman were commended for their work on organizing the current meeting, on top of their (already substantial!) other duties.
The three ICPSR Associate Directors - Heinz Eulau, Norval Glenn, and M. Kent Jennings - have all indicated that they have retired and will no longer be serving in this capacity. ICPSR will create plaques to commemorate their service to the organization.
Early reports show that this Council meeting, held on a Thursday and Friday as opposed to the usual schedule of Friday to Sunday, will cost approximately the same as previous meetings. Thus, any decisions about scheduling future meetings will be cost-neutral.
While Erik wished that more progress had been made at the Borders Building with respect to the air handling system and a new fire alarm system, he was pleased with the progress made on planning the new facility at the Perry Building.
ICPSR wrote and received an NSF grant to finance an evaluation of the DDI. A proposal for a Joint Project Agreement with the Census Bureau to cover Census 2000 activities has been written but has not yet been approved by the Bureau.
The 2002 budget, one of Erik's main priorities, was ably prepared by Stacey Kubitz, and shows ICPSR in a sound position financially.
Progress was made on improving staff morale by holding focus groups for staff.
Erik asked that the comma in "Director's Report" be moved one character to the right to indicate that, given Myron's acceptance of the directorship, there are actually two functioning directors until Myron begins his formal term in August. Erik requested from Council a "reverse report," consisting of feedback to him and Myron on how things are going. Council was encouraged to send e-mail to Erik and Myron about issues to pay special attention to. Council noted that as a result of leadership and a serious dialog at the table, Council and staff are now engaged in effective collaboration that makes attending meetings productive and fun.
Plenary Session of Council
ISR Acting Director Frank Stafford met briefly with Council and presented some thoughts on the exciting new analytic possibilities afforded by geospatial data. He also discussed projects under way to prepare data-based instructional packages for students and reported on issues of confidentiality and disclosure from his perspective.
Minutes: The minutes from the October 2000 meeting were approved as submitted. Council chair Anderson noted that these were very useful and detailed minutes. The minutes will be posted on the website.
Codebook Conversion Activity: Council members provided some suggestions regarding scanning the backlog of paper technical documentation. They indicated that the job of converting the backlog could continue indefinitely unless more resources in terms of staff and possibly additional scanning equipment are targeted for that project. This is basically the final step in the transition to full Web dissemination, and it should be completed as soon as possible.
One problem noted was that the electronic documentation conversion personnel have to deal with new hardcopy documentation, which continues to arrive at ICPSR and makes up about 40-50 percent of the incoming materials. This new documentation gets priority so that newly-arrived data can be released with electronic documentation, thus competing with the retrofitting of older codebooks. Council recommended expending effort to meet with data producers (especially Federal statistical agencies) to convince them to submit their documentation to ICPSR in electronic form.
Council asked staff to formulate for the June meeting a plan and a budget to bring the remaining hard-copy documentation online as soon as possible.
Council Size: Chair Margo Anderson asked Council to think about whether a 12- member Council is the right size and whether all ICPSR constituencies can be adequately represented with 12 members. While the Bylaws specify 12 members, that document can be amended if Council believes it would be sensible to do so.
Council Meeting Location: It was also noted that Council has in the past held some meetings outside Ann Arbor, in cities where Council members resided. Anderson urged Council to consider this alternative for future Council meetings.
Executive Session: At its Executive Session, Council reacted with pleasure to Myron Gutmann's acceptance of the Director's Position, and to his positive participation in the present Council meeting. Members were encouraged by the productive discussion of ICPSR's membership structure. The Council acknowledged that complicated issues remain to be faced, chiefly in the roll-out of ICPSR Direct.