ICPSR Council Minutes
October 21-22, 2004
Council members present: Darren Davis, Ilona Einowski, Charles Franklin, Ann Green, Mark Hayward, John Handy, Paula Lackie, Nancy McGovern, Sam Myers, Jim Oberly, Ruth Peterson, Walter Piovesan, Ron Rindfuss
ICPSR staff present: Erik Austin, Rita Bantom, Bryan Beecher, Dieter Burrell, Peter Granda, Sheila Grindatti, Bree Gunter, Myron Gutmann, Hank Heitowit, Peter Joftis, Stacey Kubitz, Jim McNally, Mary Morris, JoAnne O'Rourke, Amy Pienta, Mary Vardigan, Janet Vavra
Visitors: Dominique Joye (CESSDA Representative); Ken Miller (UK Data Archive)
Staff and Perry News
After briefly reviewing the meeting agenda, Myron Gutmann introduced Linda Detterman as the new Director of Marketing and Promotion. He announced that the search for a Director of the Demography Archive is underway and that there have been nine new hires since June. He reported that Amy Pienta is currently engaged in a staff exchange program with the UK Data Archive; Pienta visited the UK in late summer, and Ken Miller, from the Archive's staff, will be with ICPSR for a couple of weeks.
Gutmann also announced that the internal leadership structure of ICPSR has changed. The old senior staff group has been replaced by three working groups that will deal with various aspects of ICPSR business: the Director's Group, the Budget Group, and the Operations Group.
The bids for the construction of Perry II were submitted in August and came in more than $1 million below the original estimate. Some surveying and preparations have begun, with completion of the new building still scheduled for summer 2006.
Revenues exceeded expenses by $513,000 for fiscal year 2004. The end of year fund balance is $2.032 million.
Summer Program News
The 2004 Summer Program was the third biggest ever, with 637 participants. Gutmann reported that the Summer Program Advisory Committee met on October 11, and that a full report on their discussions would be provided in the Quantitative Research and Training Committee.
Collection Development News
Gutmann reported that 466 files were released between July 1 and September 30; of these, 30 were Census 2000 files. 94 unique new collections have been added to the archives, and 45 collections have been updated. Processing advances have allowed large and complex data sets to be added to the archive quickly and accurately. Examples of studies that have been added since June include the Survey of Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa, 2000-2001 (GA 4030), the National Crime Victimization Survey, 1992-2003 (NACJD 3995), and the Treatment Episode Data Set, 2003 (SAMHDA 4022).
In addition to the new user registration system (MyData) that was launched recently, staff have also improved the shopping cart and download functions on the web page. The new Sun Academic Excellence grant will allow ICPSR to purchase a new server and expand online storage by over one terabyte.
Gutmann reported that three staff recently attended SANS training in Las Vegas with the ultimate goal of the appropriate certification.
Gutmann noted that the following proposals have been submitted since June:
- Self-Managed Diabetes (NIA)
- Incentives for Data Producers (NSF-LoC)
- Diverse Multimedia Research Collections (NSF-LoC)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Older Adult Center of Excellence (SAMHSA)
- National Analytic Center - Drug Abuse Data (SAMHSA)
- Founding Moments (NEH)
- Historical Demography Training (NICHD)
- Archiving Health Care Data
- Web-Based Documentation for the NIMH Collaborative Psychiatric Surveys (NIMH)
Over the next year, Gutmann will continue guiding ICPSR through advancements in automation, membership, process improvement, and user support. There will be an evaluation of online analysis options in coming months in addition to reports from several new projects: the Demography Archive, Child Care Archive, Disclosure project, and Library of Congress project.
Summer Program Business Plan
Hank Heitowit made a presentation to the full Council presenting an overall picture of the ICPSR Summer Program. This was an expansion and elaboration of the Summer Program business plan that Heitowit presented at the March, 2004 Council meeting.
Heitowit started with a description of the Program schedule which features short intensive (3 to 5 day) workshops, as well as four-week courses spread across an eight week summer term. The 8 week program schedule also draws a distinction between "workshops" and "lecture" series. Workshops emphasize the learning of in-depth knowledge of statistical methods. Lectures provide both complimentary skills such as matrix algebra and statistical computing, as well as supplementary exposure to new topics such as missing data, graphical techniques, and causal inference.
The curriculum is further divided among three tracks: Track I is composed of courses for those at the beginning stages of learning about quantitative methods; Track II concentrates on intermediate level topics such as Regression Analysis; and Track III is devoted to the most advanced level multivariate statistical methods. In addition to the 3 tracks, more substantively offered courses are also offered, as well as courses designed for the needs of data professionals.
Participants attending the Program can be divided along several dimensions. The first distinction is between a) graduate students and b) professors and professional researchers. Another category is between students who elect courses for academic credit (usually University of Michigan students and those attending from CIC/Big Ten Universities) and those who are only auditing courses (called Program Scholars). Program participants represent some 25 different disciplines, with the largest numbers coming from political science, sociology, and psychology.
Credit students pay tuition rates that are much higher than the non-credit Program Scholars. Credit student tuition averages about $4500, while Program Scholar fees average about $900. Program Scholars attending the courses from non-ICPSR member institutions pay fees twice those paid by members.
Heitowit next described the University of Michigan facilities that serve the Program. These include Newberry House which has space devoted to faculty offices, several computer labs, and a library and study areas. A special classroom and computer lab devoted to short term workshops is also located at the Perry Building.
Heitowit then moved on to a discussion of the central role played by the Program instructional staff, both the faculty and the teaching assistants.
He also described the functioning of the national Program Advisory Committee, which is composed of leading social science methodologists. The committee annually evaluates and plans the program curriculum and instructional staff.
Heitowit then summarized the recently completed 2004 Program, highlighting enrollment patterns, and new course offerings.
At an earlier Council meeting Council had asked for a set of possibilities for alternate delivery of Summer Program courses to possibly supplement the current curriculum arrangements. Heitowit listed several such alternatives: short, perhaps 3 day, intensive workshops held in time periods outside the normal summer months; courses held outside of Ann Arbor; electronic/digital courses; video conferencing; and one-day workshops held in conjunction with professional conferences.
Council had also asked for a breakdown of income and expenses for individual courses in the Program. Heitowit presented several tables and displays elaborating on this aspect of Program finances.
Heitowit's presentation concluded with a "Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats (SWOT) Analysis" that had been requested by Council at the March meeting.
Strengths include: A first rate core of instructors; a positive reputation across the social sciences; relatively robust enrollments; a well rounded curriculum; a dedicated program Advisory Committee; a diverse and international mix of students; positive working arrangements with other Michigan campus units; short courses that have allowed for substantial Program growth; a supportive learning environment, including up-to-date computing labs; a hard working and competent professional ICPSR staff; and adequate funding.
Weaknesses include: A lack of depth in the core of instructors; physical limits on our current infrastructure, including an aging Newberry House; the modern computing facilities are costly to install and maintain; the Program is still less visible in many disciplines, especially in the behavioral sciences; our fiscal resources are limited and vulnerable to sudden shifts in student enrollment patterns; the full-time staff is stretched thin; many students come to the Program under-prepared and/or with unrealistic expectations.
Opportunities: New courses can and should be added to the curriculum; more can be done to attract participants from the fields of health, business administration, economics, and education.
Threats: It is increasing difficult for students from other countries to attend the Program; we are especially vulnerable to declines in enrollments of the high paying credit students; faculty turnover is potentially a serious problem; there are other training programs competing for our client group, although as yet they do not appear to have had a major impact on enrollments.
Heitowit concluded the presentation with a recommendation for a fee increase for the 2005 Program. A full discussion of this was to be taken up by the Quantitative Research and Training Committee later in the day.
Council comments on Heitowit's presentation covered a number of areas including: the potential pool of new participants that could be recruited to new Program offerings; feedback on issues related to under-prepared students; new initiatives for marketing to under-represented fields; a suggestion that the Advisory Committee interact more directly with the Council; the need for better marketing and research on potential markets as well as on current and past participants, especially in terms of pricing and setting Program fees. Council also commended Heitowit on the SWOT analysis.
Finally, the Council was specifically concerned about increasing the organization's efforts to expand participation in the Summer Program to more students and professors from minority and under-represented groups. A similar effort was necessary to increase the diversity of the instructional staff. It was also noted that the QMUG (Quantitative Methods for Under-represented Groups) initiative was specifically created to help address these issues. Also, there are two UM programs that feed students of color into summer program, which Hank worked to develop. These include:
- Rackham students can come prior to beginning graduate school (Rackham is the U-M's graduate school for university departments)
- On-going Rackham students
2005 Web Pages
Matthew Richardson provided an overview of the major changes to the ICPSR Website that will be launched in spring 2005.
The staff's intention is to make the new test site available to ORs in mid-January so that the ORs can provide feedback on the changes. Changes will be made based upon their feedback in late February, and the new site will be unveiled in March.
Overview of Changes
Primary changes to the website include the visual style, the search engine and the downloads page.
Matthew demonstrated that the visual style of the front page has changed significantly, while the navigation has not changed much at all. The Data Use Tutorial and the OR site are part of the navigation, and Help has been changed to Need Help. The sitemap has been removed, as its use has been too small to justify keeping it. The graphic in the center of the screen is one of several images chosen randomly when the user loads the page. Images can be added or removed at any time, which will help give the impression of change.
The secondary page design uses a tab-driven navigation scheme. Below the tabs, one can see the MyData navigation elements, as well as the minor navigation to the right. The navigation is repeated at the bottom of the page. With the new site, the left-hand navigation strip was removed, as its presence had created problems for displaying large tables, something that pops up frequently when attempting to display data.
Finally, changing pages changes the highlighted tab. This serves as a sort of breadcrumb for showing the user where they are on the site.
Like on the front page, the search is presented with its own tab-driven interface. At present, the website features three different kinds of searches, each with their own rules. The goal for the current site was to make all three follow the exact same rules and to link them such that a user can always see them together.
The use of OracleText also brings about a few changes:
- Users will be able to do phrase searching by typing in quotes.
- Searches will be case-insensitive.
- The "website" vs. "data holdings" has been eliminated and instead the user is given the option to restrict searches to data holdings.
- Search results can return more than 500 results.
- Ability to sort by author, in addition to title, relevance, and date.
- Addition of 'search within results' and 'refine search' options.
- Exploration of adding a true Boolean option, in addition to the advanced search.
The search results screen has been modified to include a tab-driven interface that explains the different types of search results. For example, clicking on "Studies" would narrow the search to just those results that are formal studies. Icons on the left distinguish between types of results, and the type is also spelled out on the right.
The downloads page displays some rather significant changes to the mechanism for obtaining files. Rather than listing out individual files, the page lists bundles of files based on statistical package, with files pre-filtered based on preferences indicated by the user when s/he signed up for MyData. For example, if the user indicated that she uses SAS, only documentation and SAS bundles are displayed. (The paragraph at the top of the page allows the user to change that preference for this page.) Rather than downloading individual files, the user adds files to the Data Cart and then downloads the entire package.
There is a link at the bottom of the page that reloads this page using the traditional format. This option has been left in place for users who are familiar with the current download file and simply want to download individual files.
CNS is working on some rather important changes to the cart processes:
All files will be zipped, not gzipped, making them easier to manage for Windows users.
Elimination of the problem of files being zipped twice.
Files will be bundled according to study, dataset, and package. So if the user downloads multiple studies, there will be a folder for each study. In each study folder will be a folder for each dataset, and in the dataset folder will be a folder for each bundle downloaded. The documentation bundle will always be added to the cart when other files are added, and this will include the codebook, file manifest, study description, and readme. The goal is to include all the files a user needs negating the need for the user to go back later to find files s/he missed.
Files will be named in a more meaningful fashion, including the study number, dataset number, a textual description of the file type, and a Windows-style suffix.
Finally, clicking on the "Need Help?" found on all pages does a quick check of the user's IP address and lists the OR as the chief point of contact, followed by options for consulting ICPSR's help documentation or contacting an ICPSR staff member. The goal is to first put users in easier contact with their local representatives.
There are a few other things important to note:
The traditional classification structure of the 'Browse by Subject' page has been revised. The headings and sub-headings are being changed to bring it more into line with the extent of the archive.
The addition of a printer-friendly page option for all pages, so that clicking on the link will produce a version of the Web page that lacks the header and footer navigation and is rendered into black and white.
There will be an icon indicator for ICPSR Direct users. Basically, the script will check the IP address, and if the user is at a Direct institution s/he will see the word "Direct" underneath ICPSR in the header. This should help users understand quickly and easily whether or not they can download files without OR assistance.
Lastly, the roll out the first MyData notification service: Users will be able to sign up to be notified in the event that a file they downloaded has been updated. So if a user downloads a data file and ICPSR updates the file, s/he will get an update notification email. The notification rollout will include the following in this order: 1) notification of updates to files the user has downloaded, 2) new series data available, 3) new study added to the subject of interest.
Discussion surrounding the 2005 web pages included:
Desire to display restricted database holdings. Currently, since the databases are not loaded, they are not displayed in the search results. Investigation into some alternative programming rules will need to be undertaken. Minimally, the search results should display a paragraph regarding the restricted data with relevant instructions to get access.
Desire to provide full description of files (beyond union catalog entries) available on servers located elsewhere (other archives), noting that this will be a requirement for the Demography project.
Desire to provide additional, easily noticed and navigated information for the user such as a "Documentation only" link at the top of the list of download options, and if data not available in the package of choice, more prominent text to be displayed indicating this.
Desire to improve the PI name search. In the past, the problem was that the search could not handle various presentations of the names. Matthew noted that Oracle should improve this because the programmer can set the rules and names have been separated into firstname-lastname fields. The plan is also to use the widely used "authority control" for PI names (a cross-referencing rule). (A report on how authority control is implemented will be presented at the March Council meeting.)
Creation of a tab for "other datasets with this subject term."
Desire to review the color-scheme prior to rollout to ensure that the contrast is great enough for all users to distinguish.
Ensuring that it is easy for the user to select single files from the cart and an easy way to search within a collection with series data and/or multiple files.
Exploration of search capabilities within and across datasets by variables and/or fundamental identifiers (geographic identifiers, for example).
Creation of a web page for people who receive the Flanigan and Miller awards at the OR meetings.
Long term thought on making navigation and results easy for the data browser and for policy-makers (non-researchers) who will require a perhaps different level of presentation for clear understanding/interpretation of what is available.
Council: Ann Green, John Handy (Chair), Mark Hayward, Nancy McGovern, Walter Piovesan
Staff: Myron Gutmann, Stacey Kubitz
FY2004 Financial Results
Staff reported FY2004 financial results. As expected, we had an approximately $513,000 operating surplus ($150,000 of which is foundation-awarded funding for project activities to take place in FY2005) resulting in a $2,033,000 ending fund balance. The favorable results can be attributed to shifting staff assignments, implementing cost-minimizing practices, and receiving higher than expected sponsored project indirect cost revenue.
Staff communicated being on target with the approved budget which forecasts ending FY2005 with a $500,000 surplus. The committee reiterated the goal of contributing $300,000-$400,000 to fund balance each year for a few years to accumulate a healthy reserve.
In discussing the upcoming FY2006 budget preparations, the committee spent a great deal of time discussion the relationship between the organization's strategic plan and budgeting process. The idea of incorporating a calendar (by topic) into the strategic plan that incorporates the budgeting process/timeline was discussed. A suggestion was made to consider organizing a budget retreat to determine strategic investments for the FY2006 budget year.
The committee also discussed cross fertilization of Council committees. Many, if not all of the issues brought to Council have budgetary implications. It was noted that all committees impacted by a proposed change should be supplied all the apposite materials and be included in the decision making process.
Staff briefly discussed the desire to create a preservation endowment.
Quantitative Research and Training Committee
Council: Charles Franklin, Paula Lackie, Sam Myers, Jim Oberly
Staff: Dieter Burrell, Hank Heitowit, Jim McNally
Earlier in the day Heitowit had made a lengthy presentation to the full Council on a number of items on the Committee's agenda. That presentation covered: a) a short overview report of the recently concluded 2004 Summer Program; b) a discussion on alternate locations and time frames for Summer Program course offerings; c) responses to some specific concerns of Council from previous meetings; d) a summary of income and expenses for each course in the Program; e) a further elaboration on the Summer Program Business Plan, delivered through a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) Analysis.
The QRT meeting was confined to a discussion of two topics: (1) a proposal to raise Summer Program fee rates; (2) a presentation on the interim evaluation of the SIMI initiative.
Summer Program Fees for 2005
The staff presented a proposal to increase Summer Program fees by an across-the-board $100 per category of participation. The Committee members discussed different models and view-points of fee algorithms based on market forces as well as need or income-based criteria. The Council Committee members endorsed the staff fee increase recommendation for the summer of 2005, with the proviso that additional data and information be collected over the next year on participant income and employment categories, as well as price structures of other (competitor) training activities.
Oberly presented the Committee recommendation of a $100 fee increase for Summer Program participants. He included the injunction to the staff to collect further information over the year on participant incomes, employment, and on competitor fee rates.
The full Council was reluctant to endorse a fee increase until they had seen further information on income and expenditure patterns. The staff was asked to compile and present more detailed displays on Program costs and income streams for the years 2003, 2004, and projections for 2005. These reports are to be sent to Council by the end of November. Council will then confer to set fee rates for the summer of 2005.
Oberly presented the staff report summarizing the ordering (download) history of the seven new teaching modules added to the SIMI archive during the period of November 2002 and September 2004. There followed a discussion about goals, outcomes and plans for SIMI activities. This included current and alternative models for the inclusion of teaching related materials and resources at ICPSR. Evaluation plans call for contacting individuals who have actually used the SIMI materials in their classes. In addition to those who have already downloaded the modules, it was suggested that we might want to ask a select group of instructors to evaluate the utility of the modules.
Because of the length of the discussion on Summer Program fees, the SIMI report was postponed until the following day. At that time Burrell (in place of Oberly) presented an overview of SIMI and the interim evaluation of project activities.
Archival Development Committee
Council: Darren Davis, Ilona Einowski, Ruth Peterson, Ron Rindfuss (Chair)
Staff: Peter Granda, JoAnne O'Rourke, Amy Pienta
Visitor: Dominique Joye (CESSDA Representative)
Report on Why PI's Decline to Archive Data
The Committee reviewed the reasons why Principal Investigators decline to archive data with ICPSR. These included: an inability to do so at the current moment because the collection had not yet been prepared for public-use, an inability to do so at any time because of security reasons, and actions already taken by the PI to disseminate on a website or through one of the major University Population Centers.
The Committee recommended that ICPSR provide a link wherever possible to websites where data collections could be obtained and in such situations offer the PI the option of depositing their collection at ICPSR with deferred dissemination. The Data Deposit Form should be made as simple as possible for depositors to complete. Staff informed the Committee that a review of the form was already taking place. The Committee asked staff to provide a report at the March meeting that would suggest ways that ICPSR could acknowledge those who deposited data, which might include sending a letter of recognition to the depositor and, where appropriate, to the chair of the department in which the depositor resides.
Archiving Policies regarding the Census Bureau's TIGER Line Files
The Committee endorsed the recommendations made by the Census Advisory Committee:
Develop automated systems to acquire, archive, and distribute all versions of the TIGER Line Files. This would include files from the 1990 Census that are only available on CD-ROM and all versions produced in conjunction with Census 2000.
Disseminate these files in the same way that they are currently available from the Bureau: at the state level by means of zipped county-level files containing all appropriate TIGER record types.
Create robust metadata which fully describes each version of the TIGER Line files and organizes all materials associated with each version in the most efficient way possible on ICPSR's website.
The Committee further recommended that staff proceed on the acquisition and processing of these files as resources permit and pay particular attention to develop comprehensive metadata for these files. Staff should make certain to describe the different versions of these files fully so that users can choose the correct set for their work.
Report on July Retreat to Revise ICPSR's Collection Development Policy
Staff held a retreat at the Marriott Eagle Crest Conference Room in Ypsilanti, MI on July 10, 2004 to review the ICPSR Collection Development Policy. A facilitator, Hal Stack from Wayne State University prepared a summary of the proceedings from the retreat which will be circulated to Council. One of the most challenging aspects of revising the Collection Development Policy will be to establish boundaries of the kinds of data that ICPSR should acquire in the future. Another important issue centers on non-traditional data which is increasingly being merged with survey data and how ICPSR should proceed in this area. Ann Gray, former Council member and Official Representative from both Cornell University and Princeton University, will act as a consultant in the revision of the policy.
The Committee recommended that Amy Pienta chair and coordinate the selection of a Collection Development Review Committee which will report to Council in March. Council will be asked to provide input in selecting priorities for the revision of the policy for the next five years.
Recent Proposals to NSF Involving Video Data and Acquisition Standards
The Committee briefly reviewed two new proposals with implications for the work of the Collection Development Unit. Both proposals were submitted to NSF under an RFP for Digital Archiving and Long-Term Preservation. The first proposal, a collaboration with the University of Michigan School of Information seeks to develop incentives for data producers to create "archive-ready"data sets and the second, a collaboration with the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at the University of Wisconsin, will develop practices and standards to deal with archiving and disseminating video-based data used in educational research.
Data Collection Full Product Suite Retrofit Project
The Committee received a report from staff about the development of a new processing tool at ICPSR which can generate a full suite of products for data collections including SAS, SPSS, and Stata data definition statements and portable files, ASCII data, DDI XML variable-level markup, and SDA setups.
The Committee strongly recommended that staff adopt this tool because of the time it will save and allow processors to produce other kinds of products for the research community.
Planning and Policy Committee
Council: Charles Franklin, Ann Green, Mark Hayward (Chair), Jim Oberly
Staff: Erik Austin, Rita Bantom, Myron Gutmann
Review of Census RDC
The committee discussed continuing support for the University of Michigan/ISR Census Research Data Center (RDC). Staff and committee members noted that this, like all the RDCs, are underutilized, and pinpointed stringent Census Bureau review procedures as the most likely reason that few scholars have used these facilities. The committee examined a report by Margaret Levenstein, director of the Michigan RDC, on its current activities. Myron Gutmann reported on conversations he had had with Levenstein concerning ICPSR support for a "seat" in this facility. In that conversation, Gutmann revisited the ICPSR commitment to provide up to $40,000 per year in support to the facility. He proposed to the committee that he renegotiate this support, in light of the scant use of the facility by researchers at ICPSR member institutions. An annual subvention of $20,000 was Gutmann's goal in these negotiations; the committee supported that figure.
Further discussion on RDCs centered around the geo-identified National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS), which has been withdrawn by the Census Bureau for reworking to further protect confidentiality of survey respondents. The committee mused on whether a corrected NCVS might be deposited with ICPSR, in light of the intense involvement that ICPSR's National Archive of Criminal Justice Data has had in processing the NCVS data.
Gutmann briefed the committee on ICPSR's current senior recruitment for a director of the newly-begun NICHD project on Data Sharing for Demographic Research. A search committee considered a strong pool of applicants, and has scheduled telephone interviews with four individuals for the week of October 25, 2004. A subset of those candidates will be invited to Ann Arbor for in-person interviews in November or December. In the meantime, Dr. Amy Pienta (ICPSR's Acquisitions Director) will be serving as interim director of this project. Planning for the first year of project activities has been undertaken.
Council strongly supported a continuation of the OR Sabbatical program for 2004-2005, and a call for applicants was sent to all ORs on September 10, 2004. As of the Council meeting, no applications had been received.
The ISR Director Search began in early Fall with appointment of a search committee and a call for nominations. Gutmann met with the search committee on October 14, 2004. It is expected that a list of 3-4 names will be submitted to the Provost at the University of Michigan by the search committee by December 31, 2004. Gutmann noted that the candidates are all likely to be internal.
In pursuing the concept of an ICPSR interns program, the staff plans to develop a national pool of candidates, and to especially target groups that are underrepresented on the current staff. Committee discussion focused on the conditions of such internships: duration of each internship; desirability of starting the internships during the summer to take advantage of Summer Training Program course opportunities; and utilizing a fellowship model versus regular appointment. Members of the committee stated that a budgetary commitment would be required for such a program, and observed that the time necessary to train such interns might be lengthy. The committee endorsed the program, and gave strong support to having each internship start during the summer.
Gutmann reported that no further progress had been made on fleshing out the concept for an ICPSR Fellows program.
The committee next reviewed procedures for conducting Council elections, presented in a document prepared for the committee. A lively discussion centered on the desirability of returning to a practice of contested elections for Council, employed for a decade in the late-1970s/early-1980s. The committee concluded that an uncontested slate carefully constructed by the Nominating Committee to represent the myriad of interests of the membership would have the best governance results for the Consortium. Committee members noted that it is important to clarify the nomination and election process, and to communicate details of the process to the ORs (via the Nominating Committee). In particular, the committee urged staff to expand on the current election procedures document section on the duties and procedures of the Nominating Committee, and to circulate a draft of the revised procedures early in the coming year.
The committee (and then the full Council) discussed the constitution of the 2005 Nominating Committee. Members of this committee include the six outgoing Council members as well as two other individuals not on the Council but located at member institutions. A number of names were put forward, and Council chair Mark Hayward asked Council members to send him additional names by the end of the year.
At its June, 2004 meeting, Council authorized the establishment of a Prizes Committee to select winners of the 2005 Warren E. Miller Award for Distinguished Service to the Social Sciences and the William H. Flanigan Award for Distinguished Service as an Official Representative. This committee, to be appointed by Council, will solicit nominations and present its nominated recipients to the full Council at its June, 2005 meeting. The Planning and Policy committee, as well as the full Council, discussed the constitution of the Prizes Committee, and put forward five names of individuals who will be asked to serve on the committee. The Council also recommended that staff adopt mechanisms that would make these awards more visible, including establishing a section of the ICPSR website to list past winners, with the citations read at the award presentations along with pictures of the winners. Recognition activities should also be established to call these awards to the attention of interested parties, including a notice to the public relations office of each winner's university, announcements to relevant professional associations and/or ads in professional organization newsletters (including the IASSSIST Quarterly).
Review of Grant Proposals
Finally, the committee briefly reviewed the summaries of grant proposals submitted and/or awarded. Gutmann noted that among these proposals were two that were very modest and involved assisting investigators at other institutions. He characterized these as "public service activities" that engender good will but bring little actual support for ICPSR core activities.
Membership Relations Committee
Council: John Handy, Sam Myers, Ruth Peterson (Chair), Walter Piovesan
Staff: Linda Detterman, Bree Gunter, Hank Heitowit, Mary Morris, Mary Vardigan
Visitor: Dominique Joye (CESSDA Representative)
Membership Activity Report
The membership activity report was very positive. Membership has increased this fiscal year by a total of nine schools, including one returning member. Also, four schools that previously indicated they would be dropping at the end of FY04 have decided to continue their membership. Only one school has notified ICPSR of their intention to drop membership at the end of this fiscal year.
Council members stressed the importance of having an exit interview with out-going schools and having that information available to the marketing director. Council members also provided staff with the names of organizations that we could approach regarding our purpose and mission, with the idea that those organizations could emphasize to their members the importance of ICPSR membership.
Fee Simulations and Recommendations
The main issue raised here pertained to the rationale in developing the fee structure and simulations. Staff explained that the Carnegie Classification system results in more membership categories which in turn necessitate a new fee structure. The new fee structure is designed to maintain revenue neutrality. The simulations, though, show fee increases beyond what our typical annual increases would generate. Since approximately 44 member schools will experience a significant fee increase, brought about because of their reclassification in the Carnegie Classification system, staff assumed that some schools would not be able to absorb that increase and would drop their membership. Since the Consortium cannot absorb a drop in membership income, a cushion was built into the fee structure.
Committee members voiced two concerns with this approach. One, it's not certain how many, if any, members will drop. It's possible that ICPSR will end up with an increase in revenue. And, secondly, no plan has been articulated to help retain members who cannot absorb the increased fees or to recruit additional members who might not be able to afford the new fees. Staff indicated that a five-year transition period is available for those schools that face a significant fee increase and that staff is preparing a plan for working with impacted schools. Staff also noted that 80% of current members will experience either a nominal increase or a reduction in fees with the new fee structure. They also noted that most nonmember academic institutions are in the Master's Comprehensive I and II and the BA Universities categories which have annual fees of $6500 and $2000 respectively. Thus, any new growth in membership will likely involve modest annual fees.
If the fee structure does generate an increase in revenue, committee suggestions for using that revenue include helping retain members who face a hardship in light of their increased fees, foregoing annual member increases until the surplus has been depleted, and providing financial assistance to underrepresented schools to facilitate their joining ICPSR. The committee wants any communications with OR pertaining to the new fee structure to address the possibility of a revenue surplus and how that surplus would be handled. Committee members also noted the importance of giving members as much lead time as possible regarding the fee structure.
Council instructed staff to prepare a document describing the fee structure, the rationale for it, and the ways in which ICPSR can be of assistance in working with schools that experience a significant fee increase. That report should be sent to all ORs, with a 45-day comment period. Council will then review the feedback and have further discussions at the March council meeting before taking action on the fee structure recommendation.
Staff prepared a memo for Council that identified the remaining recommendations from the Membership Structure Committee that had not been addressed specifically by Council. Recommendations regarding the new classification system, periodic review of member classifications, and the fee structure had been discussed by Council in previous meetings, but four recommendations pertaining to federation and national memberships remained. Those recommendations were endorsed by the committee.
During the reporting out, Council asked staff to rerun the simulations for federations using a discount rate of 10% for federations with five or fewer members and a discount rate of 20% for federations with more than five members. Council will then review those simulations at the next council meeting and decide on all fee structure issues at that time.
Vote on Recommended Bylaw Changes
The committee discussed the feedback received from seven members on the proposed bylaw change, noting that two schools indicated their Carnegie Classification category did not accurately reflect the status of the social sciences at their university. The committee talked about the possibility of making exceptions to the classification categories in situations such as those but there was no broad support. The committee voted to endorse the bylaw change and to forward it to Council for adoption.
During the reporting out, Council voted unanimously to adopt the recommended Bylaw change.
Planning for 2005 OR Meeting
Staff presented a memo outlining the OR program committee composition, program content, and program planning timetable, with recommendations for each.
The committee voted to accept the recommendation that the Program Committee be comprised of members of the Council's Member Relations Committee and one or two ICPSR Faculty Associates, with the proviso that if that composition did not include an Official Representative, one be recruited for the committee.
The committee did not make a recommendation regarding the content of the program; that will be left to the Program Committee.
The recommendation with respect to the planning program timeline is to start all planning activities sooner. The committee endorsed the Program Planning Timetable, but acknowledged that some of the deadlines for the Fall 05 OR meeting have already passed.
User Support at ICPSR
This agenda item was tabled until the next committee meeting.
Information Technology Committee
Council: Darren Davis, Ilona Einowski (Chair), Paula Lackie, Nancy McGovern
Staff: Bryan Beecher, Sheila Grindatti, Matthew Richardson
Staff opened the meeting with a summary on recent security training activity at ICPSR. Three staff members - Steve Burling, Edward Czilli, and Sheila Grindatti - attended the SANS Network Security 2004 conference in Las Vegas in late September. Burling and Czilli took the SANS Security Essentials (bootcamp-style) track, and Grindatti took the Introduction to Information Security track. Staff noted that the training was to be followed up with GIAC certification before the end of the first quarter in 2005. Staff described how the training and certification would play two roles: (1) to obtain industry-recognized credentials in security so that this could be used to leverage grants and contracts which have security requirements; and (2) to give ICPSR staff broader exposure to security issues and tactics so that the security of IT systems and data at ICPSR can be expanded.
Staff and Council then discussed the "plan for a plan" for a staging server for new ICPSR web content. Both staff and Council believe that such a server would be useful, and the only question is the timing of the purchase and deployment. Discussion ended with a mandate to create a plan for implementing a staging server, and to work the costs into the appropriate ICPSR budget year, most likely the budget year that would contain replacement hardware for the existing web server (FY2007).
Staff and Council finished their meeting with a discussion on possible locations for a backup server for ICPSR content. Staff articulated requirements for such a location in a prior communication to Council, and Council had made some preliminary inquiries into possible co-location sites. The most promising site discussed was the Minnesota Population Center, where Steve Ruggles kindly has agreed to host a system for ICPSR. Council asked staff to make an inquiry at UCSD, where staff have some contacts, in the hopes of finding a site that is more geographically distant from Ann Arbor.
Presentation to Outgoing Council Chair
Council and staff joined in thanking Ann Green for her service to ICPSR and her many contributions. The group presented her with a photo collage and a book of handwritten messages from Council and staff members.
Dieter Burrell presented a brief report on the Site for Instructional Materials and Information (SIMI) initiative, the purpose of which is to encourage data use in undergraduate and graduate education. His presentation focused on the following points:
Outreach. The SIMI Committee has met several times with the following accomplishments:
- Established standards for SIMI
- Recruited SIMI modules
- Developed SIMI website
- Developed "Other Resources" center on the site
- Created panels at the OR meetings in 1999, 2001, and 2003
- Promoted SIMI and other instructional materials at the OR meetings
Collection Development. Currently there are seven SIMI models, a teach-methods listserv, and the Other Resources center on the site. The listserv is used only infrequently, but the Other Resources center receives some usage.
Collection Delivery. Utilization statistics show that the modules are clearly being used by a variety of institutions. There were 157 institutional requests and 102 institutional requests for both data and documentation concurrently over the period of November 2002 through September 2004.
Survey. Paula Lackie and Jim Oberly have begun the process of contacting a subset of SIMI module users and ORs.
The SIMI Committee will meet again during winter 2005 and also plans to attend professional conferences, such as the APSA Teaching and Learning Conference and the Social Science History Association meeting, during which Committee members will publicize SIMI's mission and archive.
It was suggested that staff try to find a way to highlight for each SIMI module the kinds of scientific issues and debate that the data could support for use in the classroom.
General Issues of Importance
Reporting out after Council's Executive Session, Council Chair Mark Hayward highlighted some important issues that the Council feels strongly about.
Maintaining continuity. Council is aware that their advice may appear contradictory and that they may not be doing their jobs as effectively as they might. This could be adversely impacting the staff. Consequently, Council is beginning to outline the missions and responsibilities of the committees. They want to avoid setting up "silos" in the committees and believe that we need greater communication between committees, especially between the Budget Committee and others.
Documentation of items for vote. Council requests that when they are asked to vote on issues like fee increases and Bylaws changes, they receive all relevant historical documents and also an executive summary of the issue with an overview of the evolution of ideas. Also, for any issues that involve allocation of funds, Council wants to see accompanying business plans.
Linking efforts to Strategic Plan. It was clear from the Director's report that there were obvious points where it tied into the goals of the strategic plan. We should begin to think about this more fully: that is, how ICPSR's accomplishments and plans align with the goals set out in the strategic plan. This is a possible architecture for communicating as we move forward.
Comprehensive Program on Diversity. Council is unanimous in its view that diversity must be a central plank of the mission of the organization in all of its aspects. To that end, Council will compile mission statements of other organizations to determine how to revise ICPSR's statement to reflect this focus.
That is the first step. The second step is a long-term challenge: to develop a comprehensive program that incorporates diversity into every aspect of ICPSR. This is an ongoing agenda, pushing diversity into all areas of the organization, and the initiative will benefit the organization broadly. As an example, it will help the Summer Program in building a diverse faculty and in recruiting more students from underrepresented groups. It should expand the program to those we have not been able to reach before.
It was suggested that the centerpiece of the program be a topical archive on African American Life or perhaps one with a broader focus on all people of color, with a national renowned PI to lead it. We want to build an archive that makes it possible to investigate important race-related issues such as health and economic disparities. ICPSR already has the basis for such an archive, but we need this focus to become more visible and we need to fold it into our organizational identity. We want to be the place people turn to for the answers. This may be a case of "If you build it, they will come." Once the PI and the archive are in place, other aspects will fall into place.
This is the perfect time in the organization's lifecycle to grasp this opportunity. Race is a critical issue at the core of the social sciences, and there is great possibility for making a strong intellectual impact.
We will need to recruit a tenured faculty person who would be part-time on the Michigan faculty and also responsible for the ICPSR program. A joint position with the program built around this person is the right way to pursue this. There are experts on Council and several contacts at ISR and the University of Michigan who can help in recruiting this individual.
There could be long-term financial gains for the organization as a result of this new focus. There is an initiative from NSF in the making that will focus on social science research training at all tiers in education, so some resources may be available as part of that new program.
It would be helpful to assemble a timeline for this major new undertaking at ICPSR. The agenda for the March meeting is already quite full, but it may not be prudent to delay this initiative too long. We may have to give other things up to accomplish this. We also want to think about how this new program articulates with the Strategic Plan, and we need a staging of issues and a set of priorities. A Summer Program course with a focus on underrepresented populations would have to be created by December.
Council pledged their support in helping to get this initiative moving. They will, for example, participate by being guest lecturers in a summer course.