To the RDMF community...

7 June, 2018

Dear colleagues,

After ten years (and one week!) I will shortly be leaving the DCC to take on a new, more internally-focused role at Edinburgh, as manager of the university’s Research Data Support team. Before moving on, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the RDMF series of events, and invite you to share your own thoughts about it…

The RDMF (Research Data Management Forum) series started life before I even joined the DCC, under Graham Pryor’s stewardship in late 2007, with a primary audience (strictly limited to fifty participants) of fairly senior people. The events grew in scale – to a high of more than 80 participants, if my memory serves correctly – and became increasingly thematic, and targeted towards a more diverse audience. From its original (and perhaps spiritual) home in Manchester, the series has moved around Britain, with events in Birmingham, Cambridge, Coventry, Edinburgh, Leicester, London, Oxford, Southampton and York.

Topics have included Roles and Responsibilities, Value and Benefits of Data Sharing, Dealing with Sensitive Data, Costs and Funding, the Economics of Applying and Sustaining Digital Curation, Data Management Planning, Incentivisation, the Relationship of Publishers with Data, Workflows and Lifecycle Models, RDM and Repository Infrastructures, Policies, RDM Career Pathways, and even – a topic particularly close to my own heart – an event dedicated to research data in the sometimes marginalised Arts and Humanities.

With the loss of core funding from Jisc we came under increasing pressure to cover the entire costs of organising the events – including staff time – from registration fees, which inevitably led to creeping increases in the costs passed on to delegates. There seemed to be some kind of correlation with a drop in attendee numbers, despite the consistently positive feedback we got (although the financial downturn may also have played a part in this), to the point where we now must ask ourselves a few existential questions about the future of the series…

So we’re reaching out to you, the community. Should RDMF continue, or is the research data community/conversation adequately catered for elsewhere? Assuming it continues, should the events be physical, online, or a mixture? Should they become more frequent, or drop from two per year to one? Should they change location a bit more, or stay in the one place? Should they address different sorts of topics – and if so, which ones?

Although my involvement as organiser will soon be coming to a end, my remaining colleagues at the DCC would very much value your thoughts… as indeed would I from a reflective standpoint (and possibly that of a future attendee/speaker!) Please comment below this post.

I’ll just close by expressing thanks to all who have contributed and attended one or many RDMF event(s). The series is its community, and I hope and trust that it will have a future in one shape or other.

Very best wishes,

Martin

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