What, this old thing? When people actually use your outputs

In discussions this morning about research information, REF2020 and Open Access I was heartened to see our IT Director produce the survey on managing research data I conducted with John as part of the TraD project. He said that he kept “important documents” like this on the top of his filing system (also called a window sill), and this survey gave him good evidence of what is needed/wanted by UEL researchers. Too often, people start with a system (existing or potential) rather than their requirements.

So I thought I would remind myself what researchers said they wanted from a central RDM support service – and what we are offering in Research Data Services as a response:

What they wanted in 2012 What we offer in 2014
Guidance and procedures Website at www.uel.ac.uk/researchdata in final preparation, ad hoc advice in response to emails/phone calles
Training (staff and students) Workshops via Graduate School’s Researcher Development Programme and embedded in School of Psychology
Help with writing DMPs Drafting/consultancy offered, promoted by Research and Development Support colleagues
Storage Data repository for archiving/sharing data; IT investigating storage for active research data

More to do, and plenty to communicate more fully with our audiences at UEL, but I feel this is good progress.

And I was reminded that I once visited a senior researcher, who had pinned the University’s RDM policy on his wall as “inspiration” when preparing funding bids. So these things are used, after all!


Support for support supported

We held a workshop yesterday at UEL on the training resources available for those in RDM support roles at universities. The workshop was a collaboration between three JISCMRD projects and the DCC:

  • TraD, University of East London
  • ADMIRe, University of Nottingham
  • RoaDMaP, University of Leeds
  • Digital Curation Centre

Sarah Jones from the DCC started with an overview of RDM training materials – what is available, the intended audience and licensing arrangements for reusing. She gave some examples of the types of material available for the audience. Her presentation is here, and she referred to a document the two of us compiled for the workshop with full links to the materials quoted.

John Murtagh at UEL then gave a short hands-on exercise using examples from three resources.

  • matching data to article citations from supportDM
  • data copyright scenarios from the UK Data Archive training resource
  • the “Are you RDM Ready” self-assessment form from RDMRose

We also gave time for participants to use a sample online module from supportDM (the one on data management planning), so they could experience this form of learning for themselves.

After lunch, three presentations talked about the experience of their respective projects delivering training to specific audiences. First, I spoke about training our subject librarians at UEL using supportDM – and what we learned from their feedback. Presentation available here.

Laurian Williamson of the ADMIRe project described training IT staff at the University of Nottingham. IT staff there were keen to be seen as enablers of research, with a broad understanding of the data environment and not just data security. Laurian is now at the University of Sheffield, so we are grateful to her new employers for allowing her to share the lessons of Nottingham. Presentation available here.

Rachel Proudfoot then talked about the RoaDMap project at Leeds’ activity in training research support staff. She gave some useful observations on the sessions RoaDMaP delivered, and ended with a desideratum for easily available Data Management Plans with costed activities compared to the actual data management effort. Presentation available here.

We ended with a roundtable discussion where the four presenters led a discussion about sustaining the training of those involved in supporting the management of research data. Some notes of the discussion are available here.

Very many thanks to Sarah, Laurian and Rachel for presenting and answering questions with me, and to John for leading the hands-on exercise and making sure everything went smoothly.

At the UEL Research Conference

UEL has an annual Research and Knowledge Exchange conference where its academic staff and students can share their research with each other and with an invited external audience. Abstracts are submitted for peer review, then the successful authors give a 25-minute presentation on the day. Papers are available in ROAR, UEL’s research archive. The 2013 Conference was held on 26 June, and John and I manned a Research Data Services stand in the conference marquee to explain our services to this key audience.

RDS stand at UEL Research Conference

RDS stand at UEL Research Conference

This was the first public showing for Research Data Services. We prepared a couple of banners, a leaflet and collected useful resources from the DCC and UKDA to hand out to delegates. One banner was to say we can help those writing data management plans (we already know there is a demand for this). The other was to challenge researchers to say yes to the following statements:

I know what I am expected to do with my research data after the project ends

I want to share my data and get recognition for it

I know the best place to ensure long-term access to my data

My data is well described so others can understand and reuse it

I know the legal and ethical restrictions on sharing my data

Research Data Services leaflet

Research Data Services leaflet

The leaflet was based on one created by Leicester University (available here), challenging researchers to think about “What would you do if you lost your research data tomorrow?” and offering a checklist of things to consider around four areas: Create, Organise, Keep and Find & Share. Very many thanks to Dr Andy Burnham for permission to reuse the Leicester leaflet’s text, and to the whole RDM team at Leicester for creating such a useful resource: it is hard to seem engaging in a short leaflet, so offering a checklist of RDM-related issues for people to consider with a clear message of support from central services is a very worthwhile approach. It starts a dialogue with researchers about where they would like support from a central service, and can act as a prompt for taking appropriate action.

Summer had finally arrived and the marquee was sweltering, so we didn’t get as much attention as we’d liked as people rushed through to rehydrate. But it was still worth our while to have a presence, and we engaged with several research-active staff to follow up later.

Support for support

Join us on 16 July for a workshop on the support available to those in RDM support roles. The workshop will offer an overview of training materials available from the DCC and several JISC-funded projects, give you some hands-on practice using training resources, and hear from three JISCMRD projects addressing the training needs of library, IT and research office staff. You will find this event useful if you are planning to develop a support service for managing research data, or already undertaking this work. And the roundtable will give us all a chance to share good practice and any lessons learned. Join us in Stratford, East London!

Here’s the draft programme and a button to take you to the booking page on Eventbrite:

10.30 Registration and coffee

11.00 Overview of RDM training (DCC)

11.30 Exercise/ demos of existing training materials

12.00 Online learning module using supportDM

12.30 Lunch

13.30 Training Library staff (TraD project)

14.00 Training IT staff (ADMIRe project)

14.30 Training Research Office staff (RoaDMAP project)

15.00 Tea

15.15 Roundtable discussion – “Who to train, for what, and how?”

16.00 Close

Eventbrite - Support for support: training those in RDM support roles

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.

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It’s a Wrap! Review and Feedback from our SupportDM Course

Receiving his supportDM certificate

Receiving his supportDM certificate


Receiving her supportDM certificate from Sarah jones (DCC)

Receiving her supportDM certificate from Sarah jones (DCC)

The supportDM course at UEL is now complete and it’s time for us to assess how well it’s gone and to ask out librarians for their views (and to present their graduation certificates).

With a free lunch on offer (in order to entice our busy librarians away) and with the help of Sarah Jones from the DCC we sat down to ask some serious questions of the course. However, what made our task more difficult was the lapse in time since last meeting and also the large gaps in between meetings for the modules. As a reminder therefore Stephen provided a quick overview of the course modules, the tasks that had been carried out in the meetings as well as the homework that was set.

Graduates of SupportDM receiving their certificates.

Graduates of SupportDM receiving their certificates.

We then asked the following questions about the supportDM Course:

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