Interesting/vague: Reviewing Module 2 of SupportDM

We met with our subject librarians on Monday 8 April to review Module 2 (on support and guidance for researchers) and to introduce Module 3 (Sarah Jones of DCC presented on data management plans – more on this in a later post). We begin each face to face meeting with a review of the Xerte module and the tasks (“homework”) we set to reinforce the learning. Our approach in supportDM has been to give participants a flavour of the types of activity involved in running a support service for RDM.  For this module, there were two tasks:

  • review an existing university RDM website
  • answer a typical RDM-related question

Our participants reported back on RDM websites from Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, MIT and Wisconsin-Madison. We asked them to see what the websites covered, to notice the layout, tone and language used, and to say what was worth copying for our future RDM support website at UEL. Comments ranged from “all of it” (on what we should copy) to “very bright and busy but in a bad way”. It is really helpful to get feedback from our colleagues, who approach the websites with new eyes, and John and I will make use of this feedback when we work on our website in June.

The second task was based on the 23 Things approach used by Exeter in their Open Exeter project (see their blog): our participants were set a real-world question to research and answer in pairs or threes, using a five-fold approach

  1. What I knew about the topic beforehand?
  2. What I know now?
  3. How did I obtain this knowledge?
  4. What else would you like to know about the topic?
  5. How did I find this task?  How would I improve it?

I didn’t explain the activity as well enough as I should in the previous meeting, because some found it unclear what they were doing and why – “too vague” was one comment! But others followed the instructions and made good attempts at answering their question(s). Their reflections included

I found this task interesting. It enabled me to learn about how to safeguard material and how to digitise non-digital data
We found the Digital Curation Centre website with relative ease and noted that all the relevant information is on there

The exercise gave librarians a chance to use their reference skills, and they carried out literature searches (or Googling as it is now called) and even phoned individuals in UEL to get information. I think this is a worthwhile exercise for others to undertake, because it gives them an opportunity to do something practical and to reflect on it. It could be used in a coaching setting, to give feedback to the student and to follow up their “what else would I like to know” response, or it could be used in a collective setting where group members share their results and help each other improve.

There were a few problems with using Xerte and we have sought to fix what we can. We also took the opportunity to revise and tidy up the Xerte module. The second supportDM module is now available for reuse, and we’ve tidied up the first one. Both can be found at and we’d love to have your feedback.


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