Because good research needs good data

Where are they now? An RDM update from the University of Edinburgh

Stuart MacDonald | 11 August 2014

As part of our series to catch up with participants from the institutional engagement programme, this month we have an update from Stuart MacDonald at the University of Edinburgh. Stuart has recently started a one-year secondment as Research Data Management Service Coordinator. His update reports on the completion of phase 1 of the RDM roadmap.

The Research Data Management (RDM) Programme is well underway with planning and pilot activity (phase 0 of the RDM Roadmap), and initial roll-out of primary services (phase 1) completed. Services include:

  • DMPonline – an online tool by the Digital Curation Centre that assists researchers to produce an effective data management plan (DMP) to cater for the whole lifecycle of a project
  • Research Data Blog – set up by the RDM Action Group to communicate progress on the RDM programme.
  • RDM Website – a One Stop Shop for all university RDM materials (FAQs, key messages, RDM planning guidance, service guides)
  • Research Data MANTRA – an online course designed for researchers or others planning to manage digital data as part of the research process
  • Edinburgh DataShare – the online digital repository of multi-disciplinary research datasets produced at the University of Edinburgh
  • DataStore – a new central facility to store data actively used in current research activities. DataStore provides all researchers with a free at point of use allocation (currently 0.5TB). Researchers can assign up to 50% (0.25TB) of their free individual allocation to shared project spaces. Additional capacity can be purchased above this, with support for very large data (>1PB) hosting available.

Phase 2: (June 2014 – May 2015) will see continued rollout and maturation of services. Services in development include:

  • the Data Asset Registry (DAR) – a catalogue of data assets produced by researchers working for the University of Edinburgh to aid discovery access and reuse
  • the Data Vault – a secure, private and long-term ‘vault’ of data that is only accessible by the creator or their representative

We are currently gathering requirements to inform design of the DAR and Data Vault services. Upcoming Roadmap milestones will subsequently tackle requisite interoperation between existing and planned RDM services.

There are a number of different groups within the university and outside with whom we need to communicate our RDM programme. These include research active staff, support and administrative staff, university committees and groups (research policy group, library and IT committees, knowledge strategy committee) as well as external collaborators and stakeholders such as funding bodies etc. This is being done through a variety of communication activities including a range of training programmes on research data management (RDM) in the form of workshops, seminars and drop in sessions to help researchers with research data management issues along with formal and bespoke awareness raising sessions within schools for research and support staff. The clear message that we want to communicate is that the University is committed to and has invested in RDM services, training, and support, and that the University is supporting researchers, encouraging good research practice, and effecting culture change.

The RDM Services will be formally launched by the Principal on 26th August, 2014 along with an associated conference ‘Dealing with Data’ which offers researchers the opportunity to present on any aspect of the challenges and advances in working with data, particularly research data with novel methods of creating, using, storing, visualising or sharing data.


Earlier RDM updates


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