Damaro Project Update – May/June 2013

As we enter the home straight of the Damaro Project, here’s a quick update as to where we are.

Much of my time over the last month has gone into creating short business cases for the various research data management infrastructure components that Damaro and other recent projects at Oxford have been working on. These then fed into a paper that our director, Professor Paul Jeffreys, presented to the Research Information Management Sub-Committee (RIMSC) at Oxford. The plan was then to take the case for University funding to the Research Committee, who would recommend it to the University. In practice, RIMSC were broadly supportive but requested that we consult more with the Academic Divisions before taking the case to the Research Committee in Michaelmas Term (Autumn). So that is what we shall do. We will need to strengthen our case be getting more researchers using our new RDM tools, and sell the benefits of the infrastructure to researchers more assiduously. You can see a copy of the case for investment presented to RIMSC on the Damaro Project outputs page.

Besides doing our bit to secure the future of the RDM infrastructure at Oxford, we’ve been continuing to develop and try out our face-to-face training materials on researchers on a Division-by-Division basis. Over the last month we’ve revisited the Humanities and the Social Sciences with courses modified according to earlier feedback. We’ve been asking our researchers for ‘true stories’ about their research data management exploits – what worked well and what didn’t – and will be incorporating these disciplinary examples into the next revisions of our training.  We’re also gearing up to start explaining and demonstrating our data catalogue software, ‘DataFinder’, to our subject librarians.

The DataFinder software is now getting close to offering the full nose-to-tail functionality the Damaro Project has been aiming for. We just need to complete the presentation of the record contribute form, get the faceted searching working properly, and then add the user agreement texts and we should be ready to go. We’re optimistic that we can get all this in place and working smoothly ahead of the Damaro / Oxford DMP Online workshop on the 28th June.

The joint Damaro / Oxford DMP Online workshop will be the concluding event of the project, and hopefully its crowning glory. We will be introducing the challenges faced by the two projects, demonstrating the various software tools we’ve been working on over the last couple of years, discussing sustainability, and asking delegates to explore with us how the training and tools we’ve produced can be applied in practical research contexts. Hosted at Rewley House, Oxford, and lasting from 10am to 4:30pm, it should be a great opportunity to see what Oxford has been working on and the direction we’re moving in. Researchers, those involved in supporting research, and those involved in research data management at other universities should all find the day informative. We’re even throwing in a free lunch. Workshop registration is open at http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/event/6525892119#.

Although the workshop will be the last formal activity of the Damaro Project, our work on implementing an RDM infrastructure at Oxford will be continuing. We still need to get proper user acceptance testing underway and tie up some of the loose ends from the project – such as making sure that all of the metadata generated in one component of the infrastructure really does flow properly to the associated parts. And most importantly, we need to find the resources to actually staff the services we’ve been developing. We’re not there yet, but the Damaro Project has taken a huge step toward achieving the goal of a sustainable institutional research data management infrastructure that both meets the requirements of the UK Research Councils and enables researchers to make the most of their data outputs.

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