Evaluating Impact of the PROV Data Model: How Impact Science gathered evidence for REF 2021 for King’s College London and Newcastle University

The Clients

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 the north east of England.

What is Provenance?

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 computerised 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 King’s College London and Newcastle University

This diagram provides a high-level overview of the structure of PROV records. Source: https://www.w3.org/TR/prov-primer

The Challenge

The researchers at KCL and Newcastle knew that PROV had been used by several organisations to track the provenance of their data. But they had few details of how these organisations 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 clearly set out the reach and significance of its impact.

The 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 into a report which set out the evidence, established the reach and significance of the impact of PROV, and incorporated key quotes from interviewees.

Key Outcomes

The evaluation by Impact Science team clearly 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 clients 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.

The Voyager 2 Spacecraft. Source: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions/voyager-2

“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.

As a result, the researchers at KCL and Newcastle 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 here: Evaluation of Impact of PROV

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Why Impact Science?

Impact Science has the expertise to carry out in-depth evaluations of the impact of research projects. Our evaluation report can be invaluable in establishing the real benefits of research to the wider world, and demonstrating these to funders, stakeholders, and the general public. The REF experts at Impact Science can also ensure that an evaluation report is closely aligned with the REF impact criteria and can integrate the findings into an impact case study. With REF 2021 less than 8 months away, we could make the difference between case studies achieving 3-star and 4-star ratings or falling below the funding threshold.

Write to us at request@impact.science or fill in your details below to learn how we can help your research come alive!

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