Managing data @Melbourne by Peter Neish

8 January, 2020

The University of Melbourne started using DMPonline in 2017 and around the same time began to develop some data management training for graduate researchers. The library had piloted the MANTRA program from EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh the year before and were ready to customise this to better suit our institution. We created videos and modified and restructured a lot of content. We added some additional content from the (then) Australian National Data Service, Digital Curation Centre and the Research Data Alliance, with the final result released as Managing Data @Melbourne.

We were quite happy with the training package, but one of the challenges with online training is how best to reinforce the content? Do you use quizzes, free text answers or another kind of test? When tried to articulate what skills or knowledge participants should have after completing the training, we realised that it would be fantastic if they were able to produce a good data management plan (DMP). We then set about seeing how we could integrate DMPs into the training.

We modified the training so that creating a DMP became a central component. By pointing people to DMPonline, we were able to guide users in how to fill out their DMP as they progressed through the training. At the end of each module they would complete a DMP activity that would relate to the content they had just completed. For example, after the first introductory module, the participants would create a new plan and fill in the basic administration details, and when they had completed the ethics and privacy module, we asked them to complete this section in their DMP. By the end of the training the participants have the beginnings of a DMP and would have completed most sections in at least an introductory way. They can then come back to their DMP and refine it as their research project progresses.

To help build the connection between the training and the DMP we modified our DMP template sections to match up exactly with the online training. We put the questions that related to the training in one section and the remaining questions in a subsequent section. While most users were happy to use DMPonline as the place that they recorded their DMP, we also gave users the option of using a Word template.

This year we are moving to a new LMS system and have the chance to refresh our data management training. Ideally, we would like to integrate the LMS and DMPonline even more tightly. Currently users have to deal with two different systems, which is not ideal. Our hope is that by making use of the APIs of each system we will be able to move data and answers between the tools so that the DMP gets created behind the scenes without the user even noticing.

We would like to say thank you to Peter Neish for sharing this blog post with us. If you would like to get involved in our knowledge exchange and share a story from your institution please do get in touch with us.