3-month report (November 2013)


The ABM service is growing. We have taken advice from the ITLP team and introduced a new one hour lunchtime talk which was so popular Ken had to do an additional talk on the same day to cater for the waiting list. The 3-hour introduction course was fully subscribed, and the students are keen to come on the seven week course next term. As in previous years, these engagements have lead to additional requests for advice, including supporting a 3-year NIHR grant proposal. The divisional communications manager for medical sciences sent out an email on our behalf which resulted in three invitations to present and meet research groups.

The RDM project work is growing into a service. We have been asked to give two new workshops (for social sciences and MPLS divisions) and there are an increasing number of support requests from researchers. A new Oxford RDM blog has been started to help bring together news and information relating to RDM. There is also a new managing your research data at the University of Oxford leaflet.

We have finished the Jisc Software Hub project…well almost. Due to flux at Jisc we’ve agreed to keep the project account open until March 2014 to give the new Jisc PM more time to organise two meetings: (1) feedback from the advisory group (2) pitch to senior staff at Jisc to discuss the Drupal site we built as a software product or a hosted service to be used by other funding bodies. We expect to report the final outcomes of this project in the next report.

This web address is now more than a blog! We are using WordPress pages to help communicate the all the different ways we support researchers.

Finally, congratulations to Maria Marinari, our Nuffield summer intern who finished her ABM project with aplomb at the Rutherford Appleton laboratories. (See picture above).

Progress against plans for last 3 months

Engagement stats for September to November

This graphic shows the spread of research support engagements our team has provided across the University. An engagement is either a taught course, 1:1 meeting, or a substantial request for support via email where we supported at least 1 researcher from a unit.

How we communicate with researchers

This graphic gives an indication as to how we communicate with researchers.

  1. ORDS: Over the last few months we have been continuing to implement functionality and squash bugs as they become apparent. Users can now choose which fields are displayed where a database table links to another table as well as saving sub-sets of databases as ‘static’ datasets, so that they can be referenced from publications. Improvements have also been made to the interfaces and the way that the database schema designer works. We have begun work on the user documentation for the service. Two projects are now helping us test the ORDS with their research data, and a workshop where all of our ‘early adopters’ can get their hands on the system and offer feedback about design and usability will be held during December.”
  2. Service catalogue: Meriel handed over a report on user feedback on the service catalogue to the IT Services information management team.
  3. DiXiT project: recruitment is underway, see projects section for latest developments.
  4. Jisc Software project: 99% complete. Jisc has asked us to keep the project account open so that they have more time to organise the final two meetings.
  5. ABM service: There has been more interest in the ABM service over the last 3 months. This is in part due to good advice from the ITLP team who suggested Ken offers an additional 1-hour lunchtime course. The course was so popular it had to be offered twice in one day. The Introduction to ABM course was fully subscribed, 20+ researchers attended the ABM get-together, and we are currently supporting a researcher in writing a 3 year grant where we would be a major work package. Additionally, after contacting the head of communications for the medical sciences division we are now offering three new seminars for research groups.
  6. Torch project: We are formalising project management in an attempt to speed up the recruitment of a Drupal developer. In the meantime Martin will attend Drupal training himself, work with Mark Johnson and InfoDev to develop urgent aspects of the site. Martin has started to use the Balsamiq prototyping/wire-framing tool to see if this helps communicate a vision for the site to academics, and the necessary details to developers.
  7. OxGAME project: The design of the next phase of the model/game is about 80% complete. Ken has been fixing a few bugs in the Behaviour Composer to do with the way the NetLogo client connects to the server, and this is making development much more easy. Howard is waiting on colleagues in Yaounde University to send data about farming so that he can build Micro Behaviours that invite agricultural scientists into the modelling process (alongside the farmers themselves).
  8. Popular research tool skills: We have started our training in R, SPSS, NVivo and Access having attended ITLP courses, watched YouTube training videos, and logged into Coursera courses collectively. The aim here is to be able to help researchers get started, and eventually give advice on how and when to export data from such tools to an RDM service e.g. to provide an archive link within a journal paper.
  9. (We will no longer report on projects here, please see the projects section of the website).

Plans for next 3 months

  1. Start a major effort to stimulate more interest in research data management within the research community here at Oxford. We will build on the approach taken by Stephen Eyre and Kate Lindsay to build interest and offer training in social media for academia. Kate and Steve developed the Engage brand and we are wondering if we can do something along the lines of Engage: RDM but that title might need some work.
  2. Close the OxGAME and Jisc Software Hub projects
  3. Beta release of ORDS that can be tested by all members of this team
  4. Continue learning how to use R, SPSS, NVivo, Access and other popular research tools
  5. Deliver improved version of the ABM 7 week course where we split sessions between lectures and individual student projects
  6. Continue to make new contacts with researchers in the Medical Sciences, Social Sciences and MPLS divisions
  7. Continue with projects as per project plans
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