Because good research needs good data

Virtual DMPonline user group - summer 2021

Running first virtual user group summary.

Magdalena Drafiova & Patricia Herterich | 17 June 2021

It has been some time since our last user group and after some brainstorming how to do this effectively in the virtual environment, we thought that discussing new features that you would like to see would be a useful exercise at this point in time. Patricia suggested to ask you to raise the issues prior the session as an open discussion is more difficult online and this helped us structure the event. We have decided to run a half day event with a coffee break. We divided the day into two halves where in the first part we gave an update on the service and introduced the concept of voting, and in the second part we had the opportunity to discuss the features that gained the most votes. The agenda has now been updated with links to the presentation from the day which you can access here. In this blog post you will find out how we run the day, what we learned from the discussion and what our plans are going ahead.

Your favourite place & the agenda


Left to right: Walk by Chris Gibson, Balcony view evening in Sheffield by Bev Jones, Glasgow Terrace by Magdalena Drafiova, Edinburgh Hammock by Patricia Herterich

We miss the opportunity to have sometimes more informal chat with you so we started the day with talking with you about places where you enjoy spending your time at – which could be your garden, terrace, library or place where you go for walks. Thank you for sharing beautiful pictures with us and telling us about these special places – such as evening sky in Sheffield, sunny cottage in Sweden or loads of lovely garden/terrace places!

Magdalena then introduced the agenda for the day and discussed you about the most recent changes in DMPonline team - if you missed any of these in the past months: Sam Rust our lead software developer left for a new job, Sarah Jones moved to GEANT, and we have been joined by Patricia Herterich who took over Sarah’s role as product manager. 

Update from the director, Q & A

Screenshot 2021-06-17 at 17.53.32.png

Kevin Ashley, Director of the DCC, then explained our key work from the past few months, such as working on the Rails5 upgrade. He also explained that we are aware that our EU clients are still waiting to see what will be happening with the data exchange between EEA and UK, and we re-assured you that in a case there will not be an agreement reached, we will continue with signing model clauses to allow the data exchange under the same terms if needed. We also do not have updated our pricing yet but we will be sharing this with you as soon as this is available. Kevin also explained why we run a user group – to give you updates and tell you about our plans and let you discuss the development plan with us. In other words, offering a space for two-way communication where we take on board what is needed from you and gather some feedback. We also raised the need of institutions who want to continue using supported use of SSO. This is not urgent, but we want to start the discussion with you as the testing institutional credentials will help us to debug any issues that might occur in the future. We will be doing more blog posts and communications around this, so you can understand better why we need these when you speak to your institutional IT team.

Voting & pitches


After the Director’s update, Patricia took over and explained how we ran the main part of our first virtual DMPonline user group. We are currently having a backlog of features from you and most of the items you have raised prior the session were already existing issues on our GitHub board ( By raising these issues prior the session we were able to do the mapping with the existing issues on the GitHub board and any details we had already gathered. We wanted to open the discussion for all of you so we can understand more in detail what is the most desirable feature going forward that could create most impact for all of you and understand the specifics for implementation. Some of your raised issues prior the session required further clarification before the voting so everyone could make an informed decision on their priorities.

The voting was assigned to subscribed institutions – with the set of votes per one individual representing one institution. We have assigned you with the ability to assign up to 15 points, +5 was the highest and +1 was the lowest. If there was specific feature you were very keen about, we let you to vote with all your 15 points just towards that one feature. Based on your voting we then did the sum ups and made a list of prioritised features.

Discussed features

Based on your votes, we ended up discussing the  top three priority features, with versioning taking most of the allocated time.

  • Versioning (#2926)

The first feature that came with the greatest number of votes was unsurprisingly versioning. There were quite few ideas about how this could work. One of the most important points was that the versioning should work as ‘snapshot’ of a DMP that is archived and cannot be changed. Basically, anything that would be drawing on the previous version would be then a new copy. Also, we would not be assigning names to versions centrally as this will be very confusing if terms are interpreted differently in various institutions, but rather talk about stages. It could be just a version number and institutions would be able to customise any workflows that might get triggered by a version and what they will call this.

  • Integration with CRIS systems e.g. PURE

Quite few of you (37) are also interested in integration with CRIS systems such as PURE. We thought that this could be addressed by customisable API that could export to various systems. We could make an inventory of fields that would for instance could differentiate between e.g. sensitive versus not sensitive research, or legal and archival requirements. We would map which information needs to be mapped across the systems and this could offer the solution.

The last feature we had time to spent time discussing was around guidance. The issue with the current way the guidance is configures is that if there are several questions about ethics - the guidance around ethics will get repeated and therefore the guidance becomes less useful to the DMP authors. Institutions would preferer to be able to adjust the granularity of the guidance offering more specific guidance across the questions. Adding more granular guidance will require integration with the guidance that is already in the system.

What we learned

One of the benefits of running this user group was that we were able to have you joining us from the comfort of your homes and hence to reflect our truly international community with people joining us from various places in Netherlands, Sweden, UK, and Finland for the first time. This offered us various perspectives on the suggested features. Moreover, you suggested to put together standing agenda, so we have transformed the notes from the day to the living document, which we hope to use for the upcoming virtual user group sessions. We also hope that thanks to introducing the voting and spending reasonable time on this this time around, we will be able to save this time for next time to have just more space to go through of your preferred features and discuss more features. If you have some further thoughts about the user group, please contact us at

Last but not least...

We have been running plenty of online events for the past two years. We believe that you know the best what will work well for you in terms of us running online events! Therefore, we are asking you to take a moment to participate in a short survey, so we can tailor them to your needs: We are already thinking about running few more user groups - which could be more sustainable with introducing raising the issues and voting prior the user group, sessions where you will demonstrate to the community how you use certain features (e.g., API extensions), or us explain to you how to use GitHub if you want to raise features. If you have any further thoughts and ideas or take to take part in the upcoming user groups, please contact us at and feel free to contact us at the details below:

  • DMPonline helpdesk at
  • Social media: Twitter @DMPonline  and LinkedIn
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