Walking On Thin (Arctic) Ice: Negotiating the Digital Landscape of Protected and Sensitive Arctic Social Science Research Data
Federally-funded US Arctic social science researchers working with sensitive/protected datasets face a number of unique data preservation and sharing challenges. When appropriate, the National Science Foundation (NSF) requires data generated from projects to be made publicly available via a data repository such as the NSF Arctic Data Center (ADC). Yet researchers can find it challenging to respond to sometimes conflicting norms, guidelines and regulations, including, for example, Institutional Review Board (IRB), consent forms and data management plans; implementation of CARE (Collective benefit, Authority to control, Responsibility, and Ethics) and FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles; and Indigenous data sovereignty agreements that uphold Indigenous rights to manage their own data. This study provides an overview of the landscape of Arctic social science data management and describes the development of a survey of Arctic NSF award recipients designed to identify which factors assisted, delayed, or hindered researchers from sharing their data. These results, coupled with the review of current literature and the state of the art of repositories handling sensitive and protected data, will inform the development of proposed features at the NSF ADC incorporating changes to data submission processes. Specifically, these features will include metadata entry fields for cultural heritage and enable flagging of sensitive and protected data and the different levels that will govern their accessibility and reuse. Preliminary data will be gathered from deployment of the new features testing the degree of increased data sharing assurance to PIs who may otherwise be apprehensive about sharing data and fulfilling their NSF grant data management requirements.