Promoting existing training resources (or the wonders of Web links and helpful colleagues)

Research Data MANTRA home page

When we put together the DaMaRO training plan, we knew that we wanted to provide a mixture of face-to-face events and online material. Researchers have told us that both have advantages, and that each meets a different need.

I blogged about our first face-to-face courses a little while ago, and Oxford already has an extensive Research Data Management website, for which we’re currently in the process of developing additional content. But sometimes researchers may want something that’s somewhere between the two – with some of the structure and interactivity of a face-to-face course, but with the convenience of being able to complete it from the comfort of their own computer.

Fortunately, there was no need for us to develop our own online training course, because a very good one already exists: Research Data MANTRA, developed as part of JISC-funded work by EDINA and the Data Library at the University of Edinburgh. Instead, we set about thinking how this could best be brought to Oxford researchers’ attention.

We already had a link to MANTRA in the External Training section of the Oxford RDM website. This is great for people who are actively looking for research data management training, but we also wanted to increase the chance of people coming across the course serendipitously.

Previous RDM projects in Oxford have contributed a substantial amount of material to the Research Skills Toolkit website (Oxford login required to see the full site). This provides a guide to a wide range of software, skills, and services that may be of use to researchers. A related resource is the ITLP Portfolio, which draws together information about IT training available to Oxford researchers, both through the University’s IT Learning Programme and online. A couple of emails to a helpful colleague in ITLP later, and both the Toolkit and the Portfolio had entries for MANTRA.

While we were about it, I also suggested adding links to NYU Health Sciences Libraries’ wonderful YouTube video Data Sharing and Management Snafu in 3 Short Acts. This provides a short, punchy (and entertaining) overview of some key issues, via a vivid illustration of how not to do data management. We’ve been using it this term in our face-to-face courses, and it’s gone down very well.

The Portfolio pages for MANTRA and the video are visible without an Oxford login – and it’s pleasing to see that, at time of writing, they’re both listed in the site’s ‘Most popular’ section.

More recently, a bit of asking around among colleagues brought to light the interesting news that the people who look after WebLearn, Oxford’s VLE, were in the process of working with Research Services to customize a set of online courses on research integrity. These form part of a collection of resources offered through the newly re-vamped Skills Hub (again, Oxford login required), which draws together links to training resources for researchers from around the University. The WebLearn team also proved very obliging, and a link to the MANTRA course is now included alongside the research integrity training.

Because these sites all deal with training more generally, rather than just research data management, we hope that including links there will help bring these resources to the attention of researchers who might not otherwise have encountered them.

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