DMPonline at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam

Magdalena Drafiova | 12 March 2020

The VU University Library, in close collaboration with faculty data stewards, supports researchers with tools, services and advice during all stages of the research life cycle. In 2019, a Research Data Support programme was set up at the VU to bring its research data management (RDM) infrastructure to a higher level. The first successful projects out of the programme included the creation of an RDM Support Desk, integrating support from different VU services; and the implementation of DMPonline to facilitate data management planning. 

RDM Support at the VU

We created the RDM Support Desk to provide researchers with a one-stop shop for all their RDM-related questions. This integrated RDM Support service aims to offer fast and high-quality advice from the relevant experts. Questions from researchers are processed by the Library and the faculty data stewards. Behind this core team of experts there is a larger community, including specialists from VU services like IT for Research, IT Security, the Legal department and the Valorisation office, who help solve complex RDM questions. 

DMPonline at the VU

Many of the RDM-questions from researchers are about data management plans, since most Dutch and European funding bodies require grant-holders to create a data management plan (DMP). Additionally, some VU faculties have implemented an RDM policy that also requires a DMP for its internally-funded research projects.

There was increasing demand, both from researchers and support staff, for a centrally managed tool that facilitated the creation and review of DMPs. In pleasant collaboration with DCC, we implemented DMPonline at the VU to make this possible. Since the launch of the VU DMPonline instance on September 16th, we have more than 200 new VU users, who created 120 DMPs with the tool.

Customization

We customised the tool and its landing page to match the VU colours and house style. Together with the faculty data stewards, we created a VU DMP template with tailored guidance and example questions for our researchers. The Science Europe Core Requirements for DMPs formed the backbone for the VU template. We decided to split the template into two: one template for research with personal data (including extra questions on data protection and compliance with the GDPR), and one for research without personal data. In the template and guidance, we refer to our RDM Support Desk for requests for advice and feedback on DMPs. We have set up a workflow for DMP review at the VU, which is coordinated by the Library RDM team. Incoming requests for feedback on DMPs (through the ‘request feedback’ button in DMPonline) are forwarded to the appropriate faculty data steward, who provides comments on the plans in tool. The Library team supports and assists the data stewards when necessary.  

Future steps

We are eagerly awaiting the conditional questions functionality in DMPonline, as this makes the template more flexible and adaptable to fit specific researchers’ DMP needs. With conditional routing, we can merge our two templates. Furthermore, we would like to explore the integration of (parts of) other forms into DMPonline, such as data protection impact assessments (DPIAs) or ethics applications.

Full-text DMP access through the API is another point on our wish list, because this creates further possibilities for the automation of DMP support at the VU, with automatic notifications from DMPonline to the relevant experts of our RDM Support community.

We would like to say thank you to Dr Sander Bosch 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.