In February, the DaMaRO Project ran its first face-to-face training events. These included a half-day Introduction to Research Data Management course, which we offered twice, to members of two of the University of Oxford’s academic divisions (Medical Sciences, and Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences). We were also invited to provide a lunchtime session titled ‘Ten Top Things Researchers Need to Know About Research Data Management’, as part of a series run by the Humanities Division. For all three events, our audience was chiefly composed of graduate students and postdocs.
The courses seemed to go well, and the comments we’ve received have been generally positive. Something that became plain quite early on was the usefulness of having the University’s Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records to refer to. The difference between something simply being good practice or highly recommended and it being something the University explicitly expects of its researchers is a significant one: it seems to bring the issues into much sharper focus, and make people more inclined to sit up and take notice.
One concrete piece of feedback we got in response to the half-day course was that participants would have liked more illustrative examples taken from other research projects. This was something we would have liked to provide, but had been hampered by the difficulty of finding suitable candidates. In the light of the feedback, we’ve revisited this, and have formed a plan for developing some case studies – more of that in a future blog post. We’ll be running the half-day course again next term, this time for the University’s Humanities and Social Sciences Divisions. By that time, we hope to have some real examples which can be incorporated into the training materials.
We’re also (as always) looking further ahead, to see how research data management training in Oxford might be made sustainable beyond the DaMaRO Project. We don’t have a complete answer to that yet, but it’s reassuring to see that Oxford’s academic divisions are ready to work with us, and are increasingly recognizing this as an important area in terms of training provision for their researchers.