First objective of the JISC-supported Sonex initiative was to identify and analyse deposit opportunities (use cases) for ingest of research papers (and potentially other scholarly work) into repositories. Later on, the project scope widened to include identification and dissemination of various projects being developed at institutions in relation to the deposit usecases previously analyzed. Finally, Sonex was recently asked to extend its analysis of deposit opportunities to research data.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Northwest England DCC roadshow at the University of Salford: a report

  Although not directly related to current Sonex work on analysing requirements for dataset transfer via Sword, the international workgroup was interested in attending a DCC roadshow for gathering a view on -and providing its own input to- RDM-related training initiatives that complement direct institutional experience in RDM acquired through JISC MRD projects. So when a chance showed up to attend the Northwest England DCC roadshow at the University of Salford, we were happy to engage with the UK Digital Curation Centre for being there at the University Library on March 20th and 21th.

Training initiatives regarding research data management were also thoroughly discussed at the 'Research Data Management: Activities and Challenges' workshop organised by the Knowledge Exchange Primary Data Workgroup in Bonn last November, which Sonex also attended (and provided a report for), so there were opportunities in Salford for identifying synergies between national and international RDM initiatives in this regard. This was also the right occasion for highlighting an example of best practice in RDM-related training activities based on local network building and promoting extensive debate on where to start and how to carry on with the work, while disseminating the appropriate tools to do it along the way.

The DCC roadshow proved to be a very effective complement indeed to JISC MRD programme and other RDM-related initiatives for reaching the 'common university' - i.e. those ones where preliminary efforts -be it at researcher survey level- are taking place to build some kind of RDM infrastructure but with no particular 'official' support outside -sometimes even inside- their institutions. The event in Salford gathered representatives from many NW universities -Salford, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds- and debates along the roadshow were very much enriched by the mixture of institutional profiles attending it, from librarians to research office managers to researchers to ethics committee members. The experienced DCC roadshow team -Martin Donnelly, Andrew McHugh and Patrick McCann- were also very efficient in promoting dialogue and passing on guidelines and expertise along the event.

A shorter schedule was applied to this NW England roadshow, that took just two days instead of three: a first day devoted to presentations on data management initiatives taking place in the region and a second day for group discussions on research data management needs and how to use tools provided by DCC to identify them (such as DAF, Cardio or DMPOnline). The DCC Data management roadshow is also an evolving creature and there are slight variations in content among different editions thereof, this meaning that the event focus can be adapted to different levels of regional RDM implementation: emphasis can be for instance made on advanced RDM tools such as DMPOnline where RDM initiatives are well under way while mainly focusing on the Data Assessment Framework initiative in regions where RDM lies yet at a preliminary implementation stage.

Highlights from the first day included an estimulating 'Towards Open Worlds' keynote speech by Professor Martin Hall, a Vice Chancellor showing an unusually high commitment to Open Access and keen to debate related issues with the audience. An inspiring presentation of the two-stage MaDAM/MiSS JISC MRD project at U of Manchester was also delivered by Meik Poschen, providing some guiding light for preliminary initiatives in RDM currently being carried out at other institutions. Finally, Day I sessions were closed with a four expert panel discussion, in which presenters at the event were asked to stress a specific issue in RDM they considered worth deeper examination. The answers were: Cost model (Meik Poschen, UoM), Limits to researcher time availability (Rachel Kane, U Sheffield), Who shoud lead RDM tasks - is the Library able to? (Julie Berry, Salford U) and Research motivation as a decisive argument (Graham Pryor, DCC).

Along subsequent discussions Sonex became aware of three relevant points:

- Benefits can arise regarding these issues from a deeper analysis of international RDM initiatives -including ongoing and forthcoming European projects- connected to the institutional activity in the area,

- Besides disseminating specific funder mandates, finding a way for estimating the institutional costs derived from universities not managing their research data could be a potentially very effective argument for engaging universities with RDM activity.

- There is much emphasis in discussions on how to train researchers, but not so much on how to set up and train a team of dedicated data librarians - this strongly depending on Library staff figures and on whether or not librarians see themselves as fit for the task.

On the roadshow Day II the EPSRC policy framework on RDM and its implications for RDM strategy implemention at universities and research centres were discussed, and several joint RDM planning activities were carried out by different groups using DCC tools for examining aspects such as benefits to be obtained from RDM, where each institution stands in terms of RDM implementation strategy or how to deeper engage research groups and university management into RDM.

From a Sonex point of view, attending the roadshow proved very useful for identifying successful models of RDM training and dissemination, and we would humbly recommend to provide this RDM training initiative an international profile once complete so that similar efforts may be applied to a broader context. It would also be useful that participants in the DCC roadshows could provide feedback on the impact of their taking part in the initiative on their institution's work on RDM implementation a few months afterwards. Any future reporting from the DCC roadshow team on their initiative will be a very interesting read indeed and we shall be following dissemination initiatives outside the UK -such as the talk on DMPOnline at the Future Perfect 2012 Conference in Wellington this week- and hoping they'll soon arrive to continental Europe, where their work on Data Management Plans may be particularly valuable in the near future.