Where are they now? An RDM update from the University of Glasgow

9 April, 2015
Mary Donaldson

A guest blog post by Mary Donaldson, Research Data Management Services Co-ordinator, University of Glasgow.

Over recent years, central support for research data management (RDM) at the University of Glasgow has been limited. The JISC-funded C4D project which ran until September 2013 provided some basic support, which was augmented with expert advice from the Digital Curation Centre (DCC). We used our DCC institutional engagement to assist with the formulation of our draft Institutional Data Policy and our Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) Roadmap and for help with RDM training.  The DCC also helped run a Data Asset Framework (DAF) survey and associated follow-up interviews which allowed us to assess current RDM practices in the University. Joy Davidson and Sarah Jones were invaluable for their support in the early development of RDM awareness at Glasgow.

Between the end of the initial formal engagement with the DCC and late 2014, work to develop and promote RDM at Glasgow has been on an ad hoc basis. In late 2014, the University of Glasgow began appointing an RDM team to run its institutional RDM service and research data registry and repository. The team currently comprises an RDM officer with responsibility for the technical side of operations and an RDM officer with responsibility for the coordination of the service. In June 2015, our team will be complete when a third member, an RDM officer with responsibility for staff training and support, joins us. The RDM team has been working systematically to develop the RDM service on several fronts:

Registry and Repository:

As part of the Cerif for Datasets (C4D) project, Glasgow set up a fledgling Research Data Registry (http://researchdata.gla.ac.uk) using EPrints Repository software.  The Registry uses a metadata specification developed during the C4D project working with other EPrints sites to agree standard functionality.  The data registry has various functionality to help researchers manage their research data, including the capability to mint Digital Object Identfiers (DOIs) for data.

Following the appointment of the Glasgow RDM team in late 2014, the Registry has been augmented by data archiving capability provided by Arkivum, and using the Arkivum EPrints plugin to seamlessly link the Registry with off-site Arkivum storage.

Plans for the coming months include: linking research data with research publications and theses, building on work carried out by University of London Computer Centre and University of East London; linking research data with University staff profile pages; enhanced Registry front-end to include a responsive design so that researchers can use the registry across multiple devices; and iterative development of data ingest and curation procedures as more datasets come through the Registry and workflows are tested and revised.

Researcher Engagement:

With the looming 1st May 2015 deadline for the EPSRC expectations, the majority of our researcher engagement activities this year have been focussed on EPSRC-funded researchers.  We have been contacting EPSRC-funded researchers to offer face-to-face meetings with a member of the RDM team to clarify funder expectations and to explain how the RDM service can help.  Through these meetings, we have identified a few examples of really good practice and have cultivated these researchers as ‘data management champions’ who are willing to speak at RDM engagement events about how they go about RDM activities. We also take opportunities to go and speak at researcher gatherings to raise the profile of RDM within the University’s research community. In addition to our proactive work with EPSRC-funded researchers, our services are also available to all other research staff in the University. In recent weeks, with the release of the ESRC Data Policy, we have been looking at ways in which we can engage with ESRC-funded researchers at Glasgow. We anticipate that as compliance with the EPSRC and ESRC requirements becomes part of the normal research workflow, we’ll turn our attention to other RCUK-funded researchers. We are also working with the Open Access Service to coordinate our service offerings and to reduce the number of emails being received by research staff.

Training Offering:

Recently we have been working on extending our researcher training offering to make sure we cover all aspects of RDM and the data lifecycle, and make this training available to researchers at all stages of their careers.

Through the Staff Development Service, we will be increasing access opportunities to the existing workshop-  ‘Managing Research Data’ and we will also be offering a new workshop -  ‘Data Management Planning’. We will also be contributing appropriate material to several other workshops run by the Staff Development Service.

Through the Graduate Schools, we will be offering workshops on Research Data Management for Postgraduate researchers. We will also be contributing appropriate material to other training courses offered by the Graduate Schools.

In addition we will be delivering training to staff and student groups within the University such as the Early Career Researcher Fellowship Application Mentoring Group.

Service coordination:

We are continuing to work with other services at Glasgow to ensure that consideration is given to RDM at the appropriate times in a research project lifecycle.  With the contracts team we have agreed wording for collaboration agreements that makes provision for data sharing at the end of the project. We are also working with the University Ethics Committee to inform them of RDM considerations that they might need to take into account when considering applications, and with the Research Support Office to get researchers to complete a Data Management Plan for their project and to cost for RDM when making funding bids.

We have also made two successful proposals to the Research Strategy and Planning Committee:

  1. To put the responsibility for the quality assurance of our data curation processes within the remit of our Vice Principal for Research and Enterprise.
  2. To strongly encourage all researchers within the University of Glasgow to prepare data management plans for their projects, regardless of whether this is required by their funders as part of the application process.

Future aspirations:

  • To ensure all researchers have access to support to facilitate compliance with funder requirements and good data management practice.
  • To extend the University of Glasgow-specific guidance in DMPonline.
  • To fully embed data management and planning into the normal workflow of researchers at Glasgow.
  • To update our training offering and resources with examples of best RDM practice from within our own research community.