Over a year ago, I spent months working on what I hoped would be a comprehensive guide to Open Access repositories for data in Anthropology & Archaeology. The resulting list is impressive in size if nothing else (see it here). After getting it on the web and appropriately linked, I checked back recently to see what kind of traction the site has gotten - little. Folks in my departments were thrilled to have - many, in fact, helped create it - but their information seeking behavior just didn't allow for rummaging around the web - even with a guide.
In an environment of research - and in a time of decreased financial support - getting the best information is what is essential. Just as with web searching, I've found people in my departments will rarely go beyond the third page of results....The answer with web searching is to become much more skilled in the search so you don't have pages and pages of potentially great results to shift through.
I think that is also true for data discovery. There are fabulous resources for Open Access - or not OA but just great sources - of data out there. So how do we help researchers in this quest?
I think that Thomson Reuters has it right with their new Data Citation Index product. I was asked to write a quick summary as a NewsBreak for Information Today on the product - and you may want to give it a look. Even if you loathe the idea of a commercial company's involvement, the critical issue today is sorting out the wheat from the chaff in terms of finding quality data for research. Even ICPSR and other esteemed repositories are on-board with this effort. Since there isn't an alternative, I'm just happy that someone is willing to invest in giving this the due diligence that it clearly deserves.
Would you agree?