Because good research needs good data

Where are they now? An RDM update from the Open University

Isabel Chadwick | 04 September 2014

The latest in our series of catch-up blog posts is the Open University which was incorporated into our Institutional Engagement programme in autumn 2013. At that time the OU had only recently commenced an internal project to develop as institutional framework for the management of research data which was being led by Library Services. We catch up with Isabel Chadwick to find out what progress they have made in the last year:


The OU’s Research Data Management project ended in January 2013, the key outcomes of which were the creation of:

  • an institutional research data policy
  • a comprehensive suite of guidance on our intranet site
  • a set of recommendations for infrastructure development.

We received support through the DCC’s Institutional Engagement programme during the project and this has stood us in good stead to further develop the OU’s RDM service, post-project.

An Advisory Group has been set up to oversee the work to develop RDM services. This group is made up of academics from a range of faculties as well as representatives from IT, Library Services and Research Support and meets every two months.

A case was recently approved to make our fixed-term Research Data Management Librarian post permanent. This post is held by Isabel Chadwick who has been working hard to build relationships with the research community since she arrived at the OU in October 2013. This has been achieved by speaking at faculty and research support meetings throughout the university and offering support to researchers writing Data Management Plans. As a result, engagement with RDM is increasing, as evidenced by a steady growth in the number of enquiries. There has been considerable interest in discipline-specific training for RDM, which is something we are keen to explore; a workshop is being designed with colleagues in the Faculty of Education and Language Studies to be delivered in the autumn and we hope this will be the first step towards a more tailored, user-driven support service.

We have also started working on the development of IT infrastructure to help researchers manage their data. The first element of this infrastructure is a research data catalogue which will sit in our institutional Eprints repository, Open Research Online (ORO). We are using a customised version of the ReCollect metadata schema for this, the development of which benefited from the advice we received from the DCC’s Angus Whyte. In order to make the process easier for researchers, we are building a facility to extract metadata from our Awards Management System to pre-populate certain fields in the catalogue records. Over the coming months there will be a big drive to publicise this new facility and encourage researchers to record their datasets in the catalogue.

In addition to the data catalogue, we have recently gained approval for a new project to scope solutions for a facility to store and share active data (both internally and externally) and a research data archive. This is a joint project between the Research Scholarship and Quality Unit, Library Services and IT.  We will be engaging with researchers throughout the project in order to ensure that our chosen solution(s) are considered useful and appropriate by the community we are aiming to support.


Earlier RDM updates


An RDM update from the University of Edinburgh


An RDM update from the University of Hull


An RDM update from the University of Salford


An RDM update from Queen's University Belfast


An RDM update from the University of East London