Demystifying Data Provenance: How Impact Science gathered evidence for REF 2021

Date: August 4, 2020,
Client: King’s College London and Newcastle University
Categories: REF 2021

Contributor:
Iain Coleman
Reading time
2 mins
THE CHALLENGE

King’s College London and Newcastle University had contributed to the development of a computerized standard called PROV data model ontology, which allows organizations to track the provenance of their data.

However, they had very little information about how organizations were benefitting from PROV and had no evidence to show impact of their contributions.

THE SOLUTION

Impact Science conducted desk research and interviews with key organizations using PROV and collected qualitative and quantitative evidence on the reach and significance of the computerized standard.

THE IMPACT

Researchers were able to get a clear idea of how PROV benefitted the global pharmaceuticals industry, aided the recording and publishing of statutory notices in the UK, and in the production of the US National Climate Assessment Reports.

It was found that PROV played a role in archive image data from NASA missions such as Voyager and thus helped in the analysis of planetary atmospheres.

BACKGROUND

King’s College London (KCL) and Newcastle University are two of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. KCL ranks among the top universities in the world: founded in 1829, it is a leading research-led institution with 7,200 staff and a turnover of more than £680 million.

Newcastle University has nearly 6,000 staff and a turnover of almost £490 million and makes a major contribution as a civic university to the economic, social, and cultural development of northeast England.

Provenance is information about entities, activities, and people involved in producing a piece of data or thing, which can be used to form assessments about its quality, reliability, or trustworthiness. Provenance is the defining information about an entity which verifies its history and authenticity. This is typically done by tracing the relationship between agent, entity, activity; and the time that the activity started and ended.

Academic research into provenance has led to the development of a computerized standard called the PROV data model ontology. The PROV standard is published by the World Wide Web Consortium and its ongoing development has been enabled by research contributions from staff at Kings’s College London and Newcastle University.

The researchers at KCL and Newcastle University knew that PROV had been used by several organizations to track the provenance of their data. But they had few details of how these organizations had benefited from PROV, and no hard evidence to support REF impact case studies. In order to develop their case studies, they needed to establish how PROV had been used, how beneficial it had been, and measure the reach and significance of its impact.

STRATEGY & APPROACH

Impact Science carried out an evaluation of the impact of PROV, focusing on key organisations identified by the researchers. Through a combination of desk research and structured interviews with key users of PROV, our team gathered qualitative and quantitative evidence of its uses and benefits. These were then analysed, and the results compiled in to a report which set out the evidence, established the reach and significance of the impact of PROV, and incorporated key quotes from interviewees.

CONCLUSION

The evaluation by Impact Science team showed the benefits of PROV in the global pharmaceuticals industry, in the recording and publishing of statutory notices in the UK, and in the production of the US National Climate Assessment Reports. In addition to these impacts, which the client s had in mind at the start of the project, our team uncovered an important use of PROV that had previously been unsuspected: its application to archive image data from NASA missions such as Voyager, and the crucial significance of this in the analysis of planetary atmospheres.

As a result , the researchers at KCL and Newcastle University have the information they need to develop strong case studies, and an objective , third-party evaluation report to corroborate the global impact of their work.

Read the complete evaluation report of impact of PROV

"The Impact Science report on PROV shows the significance and reach of the W3C PROV Recommendations based on our research, helping data consumers to place their trust in data that can be demonstrated to be accurate, reliable, and of high quality."

Prof. Luc Moreau, Head of Department of Informatics, King’s College London

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.

Let's discuss your next project.

How can your research impact the world? Let's talk

Get in touch

Related Case Studies