After the inevitable August lull we are now making rapid progress again with the development of DataFinder. We have also produced an improved set of research data management induction materials, and, perhaps most significantly, have a proper, approved, research data management policy in place for the University of Oxford.
As the new policy has not yet been officially announced in the Oxford Gazette I shall hold fire for the time being and dedicate a more substantial blog post to it in due course. Needless to say, however, we are already contemplating how we should go about promoting the policy to our researchers and how we can provide support and training to help them adhere to it. Our first idea has been to produce a glossed version of the policy with links to existing materials that can illustrate and explicate it for the benefit of our yet innocent and unsuspecting academics. We will also need to work more generally with the academic divisions and departments to integrate our training and induction materials into their regular training and support channels, so that they reach even those researchers not thrilled at the prospect of attending inevitably relatively generic centrally-organised data management events. We have been helped in this effort by our Steering Group’s decision that we can invest our likely staff underspend in recruiting helping hands from the faculties to help customize our materials. Volunteers – please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Our newly updated induction materials are intended to be used to raise awareness of the importance of research data management amongst new doctoral researchers and post-docs, and are available from http://damaro.oucs.ox.ac.uk/induction.xml. There are slide shows of various lengths accompanied by explanatory notes for the benefit of presenters who are themselves not yet familiar with research data management, along with short fact sheets. We continue to update the University’s central research data management hub, which is now in its third year: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/rdm/.
As far as DataFinder is concerned, we have now worked out in detail how users will be able to navigate the system, the different permissions levels the service will require, and the various record statuses that will be needed to ensure the administrative process run smoothly and that contributors can be kept informed at all times. Bhavana is working away at the authentication mechanisms, whilst Asif gets to grips with the basic processes of the DataReporter analytics tool. Our Infodev team at IT Services are gamely trying to ensure that our user interfaces are sensible and will not unduly baffle the researchers that the tool is supposed to assist.