Reflections on the JISC Managing Research Data Workshop, March 2013

This week I had the pleasure of attending the JISC Managing Research Data ‘end-of-programme’ workshop at Aston University. As far as the Damaro project is concerned, it’s not actually the end of the programme yet, as we’ve had an extension until June. Nevertheless it was an excellent chance to reflect on progress and learn from the experiences of other institutions.

Whilst we are currently in the process of putting together a business case to persuade the University of the need to support our fledgling research data management infrastructure, some projects have already made good progress in this regard. The Data.Bris Project has managed to secure funding from the University of Bristol for at least the next two years to staff their research data management service, and will be using the opportunity to serve existing and assess future demand. At the University of Lincoln, meanwhile, the Orbital Project have taken a slightly different approach. Instead of building a service focused specifically on research data management, they are pioneering a more general research management service based around a ‘researcher dashboard’ of useful information for researchers regarding their publications, with data management services built around this. By giving researchers something they know they already want, they can potentially encourage greater engagement with the data outputs associated with those publications.

One distinction between the way Oxford is proposing to implement and sustain our RDM services compared with other universities is that we are adopting a more modular approach. Whereas several universities have presented their management with requests for different levels of funding depending on whether they wish to support a minimal, moderate, or high level of RDM service, we are looking at each element of our infrastructure as a service in its own right, with different business models for each. We may still suggest different service level options for each element, but we think that this modular approach will make it easier to add to or remove parts of our infrastructure in the future.

Besides the presentations about sustainability, there were sessions on training, technical developments, and data publication via journals. As ever, I would like to have been able to attend more session that I was able to, although I’ll be aiming to get the highlights of those I couldn’t attend from my colleagues who were at the workshop.

On the afternoon of the second day, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) arranged a couple of sessions to capture and disseminate the experiences of the various projects for the benefit of other universities undertaking similar activities in future, which I’m sure will prove very useful once their synthesis is up on their website. It’s been impressive throughout the programme how coordinated it has all felt, with different institutions learning from and partnering with each other. For our part we’re currently jointly running a survey of staff support skills along with the University of Southampton, and we’ll certainly be following up on some of the ideas and activities we heard about from our ‘fellow  travelers’ at the workshop.

We produced a new project poster for the workshop, illustrating some of the achievements of the project so far. You can find it here:

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