ISR Awards

ECR: BCSER: IRM: Building Big Data Capacity for Education and Social Science Research Communities Using Restricted Administrative Data

The computational and data revolutions are opening new opportunities for education and social science (ESS) researchers. After the passage of the Evidence-Based Policy Act of 2018, the federal government is taking new steps to make a broad range of administrative data more accessible to researchers. New platforms for sharing restricted data are evolving to meet the needs of ESS research communities and other stakeholders including state and federal agency staff. Both for-profit and non-profit efforts to collect and mine rich data from across the teaching and learning tool ecosystem. In short, massive amounts of new data pertaining to core areas of interest for education and social science are becoming available for researchers. Ensuring broad, responsible access to those data and making certain that researchers at all career stages, in all fields, and at all institutional locations can make effective use of them requires new capacity building efforts.
This proposal builds on the success of a new platform for collecting and sharing restricted administrative data about higher education research and research training — the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS) ? and successful programs for teaching both early career and established researchers how to make effective use of large-scale restricted data to help address this need. We propose two annual training opportunities, related research support, technical support, proposal development, and community building activities anchored on the secure research platform and rich data developed by IRIS.
The first workshop will be tailored for ESS researchers at all career stages who have little to no experience working with large scale restricted data, and even little familiarity with quantitative data analysis. The second will emphasize the needs of researchers who are more familiar with traditional ESS quantitative research but have not had the opportunity to develop the specific technical and data management skills necessary to support work with large scale, privacy protected data in restricted access environments. Each workshop and associated activities will seek to provide participants with the basic technical, analytic, institutional and ethical tools necessary to begin developing and conducting research using IRIS data or other large-scale datasets. The final goal will be to support participants as they develop and eventually submit proposals to National Science Foundation programs to expand their projects and thus the capacity of ESS fields in data-intensive research. While this proposal does not directly support research, we expect that the training and proposal development work it would support will result in multiple projects that address core research questions in education and social science fields.