MIT Libraries Program on Information Science awarded $868,954 by Sloan Foundation

February 20, 2015

The Arthur P. Sloan Foundation awarded $868,954 in January, 2015 to a joint MIT-Harvard project developing easy-to-use tools for sharing confidential research data while retaining data privacy to begin in April of this year. Led by Dr. Micah Altman, Director of Research for the MIT Libraries and Head/Scientist for the Program on Information Science, the project aims to leverage ongoing multidisciplinary collaborations and theoretical advances in computation, statistics, law, and social science to improve reuse and replicability in empirical social science, promoting archiving of and access to large-scale confidential data. Areas of focus include designing a blueprint for securing large-scale confidential archival data in the Dataverse repository, as well as expanding research collaborations to engage with ongoing data privacy and dissemination efforts at MIT and Harvard, among other objectives. The work contributes to the capacity of the Libraries to manage and support researchers in managing confidential information.

“Both academic research and information services are increasingly based on detailed digital information about people and their behavior. Although personal information is being produced and collected at an exponentially increased rate there is no broadly standardized way of describing and managing private information in research. This project will provide understandable, usable tools and policies for managing confidential research data,” Dr. Altman said.

Dr. Altman is joined in the 30-month project by four Harvard collaborators: Mercè Crosas,  Director of Data Science, IQSS; Urs Gasser, Executive Director, Berkman Center for Internet & Society; Gary King, Albert J. Weatherhead III University Professor, Department of Government; and Salil Vadhan, Vicky Joseph Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Director, Center for Research on Computation & Society. This collaboration builds upon a previous successful project supported by an NSF Frontier grant.

More information is available on the project website: http://privacytools.seas.harvard.edu/