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

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

Are you open yet?

We have recently had three enquiries about meeting funder expectations for data from researchers at UEL – one wanting to demonstrate institutional controls on the licenced use of NHS data and two writing Data Management Plans (DMP) for the first time. We have not set up our support service yet – though we have a name at least.our-logo And our colleagues in UEL’s research office (which is called Research and Development Services or ReDS for short) have been letting those writing bids about our work. Hence the contact from three researchers. In response we quickly created a DMP at UEL flyer- maybe we will need to refine it when we are properly established as a support service.

The first involved looking for policies other than the research data one – information security, our Code of Good Practice in Research, etc. These would reassure the NHS Trust owning the data that it would be managed well within UEL, and that the researcher would be held to account for any breaches.

The other two were for research councils (AHRC and MRC): for the first I read through the draft bid and Technical Plan and offered comments on improving the latter, while for the second I read through the draft bid and drafted a DMP using the DMPOnline tooldmp-online-logo. John and I then met with the researcher to tease out some of the detail, and the DMPonline document was reworked by the researcher for submission with the bid.  We will follow up with each researcher and ask how they found the service – even though we are not officially open for business!

And we are keen to find ways to share best practice in writing DMPs at UEL.

We’re recruiting

our-logoUEL is serious about supporting its researchers in managing their research data. I blogged before that we have funding next academic year to build a support service and infrastructure, and now we have advertised a job too.

We are establishing a permanent Research Data Management Officer post, to work with me as Research Services Librarian in developing services and giving support to researchers, and curating data of long-term at UEL. The post is advertised here with a job description here, and these are the important points to note:

Closing Date:   Monday 20 May 2013
Interview Date:   Tuesday 18 June 2013
Start Date: Monday 5 August 2013

Salary:  £27,104 to £30,072 per annum inclusive of London Weighting

I am happy to answer informal enquiries – call me (Stephen Grace) on 020 8223 7858 or email me at s.grace [at] uel.ac.uk if you want to know more.

The promise of institutional RDM support at UEL

I know that several universities are struggling to support their researchers with an RDM support service and infrastructure – even those in the Jisc MRD programme who have been able to document extensive evidence of demand. So I am very pleased that the University of East London has committed funds next financial year to help build such a service, as promised in our RDM policy:

LLS will develop by 1 May 2015 an infrastructure and support service for research data created in consultation with Schools and Services. This will include a portal for datasets which are suitable for sharing.

We had undertaken a staff/student survey (see our blog) to get a snapshot of the ways researchers are managing research data at UEL, what issues they have and what they would like to see. The top four wants were

  • Written guidance on procedures
  • Training for staff, students and support staff
  • Help when writing Data Management Plans
  • Additional personal or shared storage

Of course, we will undertake more extensive consultation to know what is wanted by researchers. And we will discover and document what support our colleagues in other central services can offer. I think an RDM website is a priority for the summer, pointing to existing internal support and the wealth of external guidance even ahead of a dedicated service. I will look to see what we can achieve in the TraD project before it ends that adds to the training aspects those of guidance, support and infrastructure. The many outputs of other MRD projects will help greatly here.

Our Associate Director Gurdish Sandhu had been advocating for good management of research data since 2009, when she presented the findings of the Keeping Research Data Safe report to the Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. And our Director Cathy Walsh has been able to argue that Library and Learning Services is able to lead an RDM support service, building on our existing skills and a track record of delivering technology-enabled services with a customer focus.

Of course, there is more than enough work for me, and I hope to make a further announcement in the next week in this area…