Psychology RDM Workshop

On Wednesday 13th March Stephen and I organised a workshop for academics in the School of Psychology.

Our aims were the following:

  1. To inform participants of funder expectations for RDM
  2. To share good practice in data management planning
  3. To gather RDM requirements from psychology researchers
  4. To offer tailored support via data clinic sessions

Also helping us on the day was Dr Richard Plant, who formerly worked on two JISC MRD Projects (DMTpsych Project at the University of York, and Data Management Planning and Storage for Psychology (DMSPpsych) at the University of Sheffield.

Dr Sharon Cahill, Senior Lecturer and Research Leader for Professional Doctorate in Applied Educational and Child Psychology in the School opened the workshop by explaining our involvement with the School via the training programme for PhD and Professional Doctorate students in RDM.

I then gave a short overview presentation about the TraD project, UEL’s Research Data Policy and our training for psychology professional doctorate students. Since it was passed by Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee in March last year we have to advertise the policy and we thought this was a good opportunity especially as it has a number of conditions that cover what Deans and Principle Investigators (PIs) are expected to do with respects to data management in the University. It also details the roles and responsibilities of the Library and Research Office.

Dr Richard Plant then presented on Data Management Plans, or developing good practice in managing data during the project which also went into detail about the DMPOnline tool from the DCC. Dr Plant has written a useful 36 page guidance document on how to fill out a DMP specific to psychology. He also outlined why DMPs for funding bids were now required.

We followed this up with an exercise on Data Management Planning where we placed academics into groups of three. We then asked them based on their latest/last research projects  and draft a sample answer to one of the following three questions:

Topic 1 Storage, security and backup

What planned quality assurance and back-up procedures do you have for your research data? Is there any data that needs to be secure, and how will you ensure this? How will you move data if you do not work in one location?

Topic 2 Sharing data during the project

What are the expected difficulties in data sharing, along with and causes and possible measures to overcome these difficulties? Who will you need to share data with during the project phase (e.g. colleagues at UEL/elsewhere)? How will you manage version control?

Topic 3 What happens to the data at project end

What are your plans for management and archiving of collected data? Are you required to deposit the data e.g. with the UK Data Archive? Is there data underlying a publication which may need to be made available? Can/should you share data more widely, and will this require extra effort?

This may have been an overly ambitious exercise because for many of the academics this was the first time they had come across RDM and DMPs. It was also made more difficult by the concerns surrounding the requirements under the Data Protection Act – of which they were all mindful of as psychology researchers. If we were to run the workshop again I think the demands of the DPA and the funders to openness to that research would be more fully developed. We have covered these subjects in depth in our teaching to students.

Stephen next provided an overview of the findings from the recent UEL RDM online survey. Answers to questions which were asked such as what would stop  a researcher from sharing data. There were also results from questions about what support in RDM was required in the University. The question of what the School and University needs to do to make RDM easier/better/simpler was then opened up to the floor for discussion:

  • Simple Guidance for research students – e.g. encrypted datasticks, backing up data
  • More data storage
  • Possibility of having a UEL version of Dropbox?
  • Advice about data encryption
  • Advice about taking data outside the EEA
  • A Practical advice/checking over of DMPs in case of missing obvious problems/funding for storage
  • What format would the data be in e.g. XMl, compressed?
    • 1. Corporate Policy – Data, QA, Security, Support/Webpage – on three levels
    • 2. Link to specific school information
    • 3. General admin for individuals.

what the School and University needs to do to make RDM easier/better/simpler

Over lunch these issues were discussed further and a few champions in the School came into the foreground so we’ll be following this up.

We also included lots of hand-outs such as

 What would we do differently?

Lots of things!

We would probably try to first establish the experience of researchers in the room from the start of the workshop. We were aware that early-career researchers may not have previously made bids to research funding bodies let alone started to think about DMPs to their data. We were also aware that some researchers may not need be applying to external research bodies.

We would also probably offer a Question and Answer session around RDM because there was concern around the conflicting demands of the Data Protection Act and funders. We hope that the webpages we develop will clear this up definitively.

We would like to thank Dr Sharon Cahill and Dr Richard Plant for assisting in this workshop and we intend to carry out similar events in the future to other schools.


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