Because good research needs good data

IDCC13: Bringing people together via DMPs

A blog post on the DMP workshop at IDCC 13 in Amsterdam.

Sarah Jones and Paddy McCann | 15 January 2013

The DMP workshop at IDCC brought together speakers from all corners of the globe to pursue the common interest of data management planning. The event was kicked off by Martin Donnelly of the DCC who co-organised it with Carly Strasser from the Californian Digital Library. Martin gave some background context, likening research data management to Hydra, a many-headed beast to be tamed. He explained the development of DMP resources and the DMPonline tool before handing off to the next speakers for a round of policy updates.

Veerle Van den Eynden of the UKDA outlined the UK policy landscape. Many research funders have data management and sharing requirements, and the Research Councils UK issued a set of common principles on data policy in May 2011. Typically data sharing is mandated or encouraged, a DMP is required and award holders are responsible for managing and sharing data. The game changer in the UK was the EPSRC policy which puts the onus on research organisations to provide an infrastructure for research data management. Veerle also mentioned how the UKDA reviews DMPs and the excellent guidance resources they’ve developed to support researchers. 

Rachel Frick of the Digital Library Federation gave an update on the US situation. The major funders with RDM expectations stateside are NSF and NIH. A great paper called "Demystifying the requirements of Research Funders in the US" outlines exactly what is expected. Rachel posed a number of questions about the opportunities DMP developments afford: Can we think about how the researcher fits in the broader landscape rather than DMPs as an admin exercise? Are we providing meaningful services to researchers? How should libraries be organised - do they need to reinvent themselves? Rachel explained how the US consortium see the DMPTool as a way to help academic libraries engage with researchers and communicate / support good practice.

The final two updates came from David Groenewegen of ANDS and Carlos Morais-Pires of the EC. Requirements are much thinner on the ground in Australia and Europe. Nonetheless there is a great desire to produce DMPs as a way to support the data management and sharing. Arguably this will be a much more productive approach than being too compliance driven. There’s been huge investment in data management infrastructure in Australia – the work of ANDS is particularly worth checking out. Data management guidelines are on the Horizon in the EC and Carlos encouraged everybody to feed into a forthcoming consultation to define how to implement DMPs, how they can be monitored and what role the various tools can play. He explained that the EC is pushing for intelligent access, whereby researchers share “publication + data +software”.

Kerry Miller and Sarah Shreeves gave updates on DMPonline and the DMPTool respectively. A number of significant changes are imminent in the future plans for DMPonline, which Kevin Ashley has recently blogged about. The most significant ones relate to the checklist and how it is used it the tool. In response to user feedback we’ll be overhauling the checklist to make it much shorter and more user friendly. And where funders have specific DMP requirements, we’ll revert to asking their questions in DMPonline templates rather than presenting relevant content from the Checklist.

There are a number of development plans for DMPTool too, particularly around institutional customisations, branding and better use of business intelligence. It’s seems there’ll continue to be a lot of overlap in our workplans so lots of opportunity to continue the collaboration. The US team will be developing a governance and sustainability model and are committed to keeping DMPTool free at the point of use. If you’re in the US and want your institution to get involved contact

I then presented on the DCC institutional engagement programme, specifically the data policy and data management plan support that we’ve been providing. Questions focused on the consultancy model, how that’s been developed and the potential for other countries to do something similar. Graham Pryor will be speaking on Wednesday morning about the programme – you can even get a sneak preview of his slides

The day closed with a lively panel discussion with questions covering topics such as data sharing, how DMPs can be followed through to improve RDM and ideas for what’s needed in the future. David Groenewegen gave an excellent example of how one Australian uni has tied the collection of DMP info into an existing processes to make sure there’s a hook for researchers: whenever they make an IT request for more storage or networking, a minimal set of metadata is collected. The researcher gives the information that the services need and the request is granted instantaneously – it’s a win win situation! Andrew Sallans closed the panel by asking what changes we thought were needed for the future. Suggestions ranged from making DMPs easy, lightweight and embedded, ensuring there is a benefit and return for researchers, and recognising the value of research data. Rachel won hands down though for the most inspiring response, painting a vision of academic libraries in the future where tough decisions are taken to restructure and make better use of existing resources. More flexible, responsive services are definitely called for if we’re to effectively support researchers in this rapidly changing environment.