Cataloging Software and 3D Models in the Pitt Data Catalog

When the Health Sciences Library System at the University of Pittsburgh launched the Pitt Data Catalog last spring, we wanted to provide researchers with flexible options for advertising and sharing their data. Now that the catalog has grown to describe more than 20 Pitt-created datasets, that flexibility has led our collection development in surprising and exciting directions. We have recently added our first records describing software code and 3D models, all created by Dr. Charles C. Horn.

Dr. Horn is an associate professor of medicine who studies gut-brain communication, particularly via the vagus nerve. His research makes use of several open-source software packages, which he demonstrates in his paper (with David M. Rosenberg) “Neurophysiological analytics for all! Free open-source software tools for documenting, analyzing, visualizing, and sharing using electronic notebooks.” Electrophysiological data used to demonstrate the software tools are available in the publication’s data supplements and on Github, where Dr. Horn has also uploaded scripts and a Docker image containing tools to make neurophysiological data analysis easier. Pitt Data Catalog records linking to those software/data packages include:

Dr. Horn has also designed several printable 3D models for experimental apparatuses in electrophysiology. The files shared through the NIH 3D Print Exchange include printable files in a variety of formats, photos, and assembly instructions. The 3D model records in the Pitt Data Catalog are:

From a collections standpoint, expanding our catalog to include software and 3D models is a logical consequence of our mission to collect Pitt-authored data, especially in computational fields where relatively few data products fit the definition of a traditional “dataset.” So far, the DCCP’s metadata schema has proven flexible enough to accommodate these new entity types, but we may pursue some software-specific modifications if the need arises. Shortly after Pitt published these records, NYU added their own first software record, so this may be the beginning of a collaboration-wide trend or a new working group, similar to the DCCP Basic Science Working Group.