David and I ran a concluding workshop for the 2nd-year clinical psychology professional doctorate students yesterday. They were a lively and motivated group – an opinion in no way influenced by being plied us with mince pies and biscuits as this was their last session at university this semester.
David asked them to recall the introductory presentation I gave them on 1 October. Luckily they could: they remembered discussion of backing up data, issues with using USB drives and Dropbox, Data Protection etc. The timing was seen as “ideal” since they were starting to think about their research projects. Only one had started to look at the MANTRA material I recommended, though he found it useful and detailed. Others said they would look at relevant modules when they were underway with their data gathering activity.
I then gave them an exercise based around an existing thesis by one of their predecessors. Using the abstract (taken from the entry in ROAR our institutional repository), and some bullet points on data aspects I extracted from the thesis, they had to consider in small groups answering the questions posed in a template Data Management Plan. Our template adopted that developed by Jez Cope during the University of Bath’s Research360 project (available at http://opus.bath.ac.uk/30772/). Split into four groups, the students tackled one section from
- Defining your data
- Looking after your data
- Sharing your data
- Archiving your data
They found the exercise worthwhile, and were able to relate it to their own concerns as students managing data as part of their own studies. There were also some challenging questions we couldn’t answer about some of the processes they have to engage with (like what they put in their research ethics application). I suggested they use the template as the basis for discussions with a supervisor.
We will repeat this exercise in the future, and adapt it to other disciplinary settings. I think this suggests a useful model for generating training material specific to a particular discipline.