Are you RDM Ready? From zeroes to heroes

Question 7

Question 7 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As part of the wrapping-up of the supportDM course (we’d already had a session with our librarians asking them what was good, bad and missing) we now asked them one last question: “Are you RDM ready?” Well, sort of a last question…

Within that question itself were 29 others which asked people to rate their own knowledge (0=None and 5=expert) BEFORE and AFTER their completion of the supportDM course.  They would then total up the amount at the bottom.  The questionnaire was the “RU RDM ReadY” self-evaluation form created by the RDMRose project and adapted by us.

This was an excellent evaluation for the supportDM course for several reasons: (and thanks to RDMRose for allowing us to use it)

  1. It was short enough for our delegates to take time to complete
  2. It gave us an understanding of what they had learnt (and not learnt) which identified parts of the course we should improve upon for the future
  3. It compelled our delegates to think about what they didn’t know before the course – to conclude that maybe they’d learnt something and therefore instilled confidence in themselves.

The average score our librarians achieved after the course out of a possible total of 145 was 75.35 which is roughly, well, average but not if you count how much they scored themselves before the course –  an average of only 21.65 . So from knowing very little to knowing rather a lot – zeroes to heroes?

Let’s go into more detail of our librarians’ knowledge after taking part in the supportDM course.

What is research data? Why does it need to be managed?

Out of eight responses seven graded themselves between 3 which we count to mean reasonably knowledgeable to 5 (expert) with two of our librarians grading themselves as experts.

We also asked our librarians to grade themselves on their knowledge of other resources for keeping up to date with RDM matters, for example from the DCC website.  Before the course seven out of eight librarians knew nothing at all about resources but now they knew something if not all were “experts”.

We next asked various questions related to LIS roles in RDM which was another overwhelmingly dark area of knowledge for our librarians. All respondents thought their knowledge had increased as a result of the course and in particular the different roles LIS could play as well as what the library could copy from other institutions.

When we asked about knowledge of Policy and Advocacy for RDM there was some confidence beforehand but generally across them all there was more confidence in answering: “Why has RDM become a key issue now?” and “Does your institution have an RDM policy? What does it say? Who owns and promotes it? How does it differ from policies at other institutions?”. We think this is mainly due to good early introduction surrounding the course’s aims and reasoning behind it also being underpinned by the RDM policy at UEL.

Under Support and training – specifically Information Literacy we asked several questions on what they knew about the key messages for best practice for researchers and the availability of teaching material. There was very little knowledge beforehand and only a small change in that knowledge afterwards which is likely to reflect the lack of comparable resources currently in existence for information literacy as a whole.

On the subject of advice on RDM we asked the following questions regarding what they knew, such as:

1. Who are the key contacts in my institution for RDM issues – in the library, research office and computing service?
2. What is a data management plan and what is involved in writing one?
3. Are there any national data repositories relevant to subjects you support?
4. How would you cite a data set in APA? What is DataCite?
5. What advice would you give to researchers about practical things like filenaming or backing up data?
6. What are the copyright and licensing issues around RDM?
7. What are the key drivers for and barriers to data sharing by researchers? Is there any evidence that data sharing increases researchers’ impact?

The majority of our librarians knew something about each of the topics above but the majority graded their knowledge highest following the course in data management plans and the key contacts in the library. We assume this is because the demand for DMPs are something relatively new to researchers as well as librarians; we assumed their newly found knowledge of key contacts was because we were those contacts teaching them!

Finally, under the heading of developing local curation capacity we asked the following:

1. What could an institutional infrastructure to support RDM consist of?
2. What collection management decisions need to be made in order to establish a data repository in your institution?

Whilst knowledge of infrastructure and a data repository was practically zero before the course this didn’t increase much following the course, largely we suspect because the university still hadn’t looked into this in depth and indeed very few other universities either. We’re confident however that when UEL’s Research Data Services is formally launched in August our librarians will have more knowledge than most on RDM infrastructure to be put into place.

Conclusions

Despite the length in time between modules as well as the mixed nature of activities we are confident that they are RDM Ready and more importantly they know that they are RDM Ready as a result of the supportDM course. As a result of this survey we hope to identify weaknesses in the course with a view to running it again for other support staff in the future.

The RU RDM Ready form is available to download from the RDMRose website – why not try it for yourself!

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