On Wednesday 1 February, we met up with representatives of three other universities in the south-west area to discuss and find common ground on our JISC Managing Research Data projects. Represented were:
- Research360, University of Bath
- data.bris, University of Bristol
- OpenExeter, University of Exeter
- Managing Research Data, University of the West of England
Each institution has its own unique set of requirements, and one of the first things we discovered was how well our projects complemented each other. Research360 is focusing on Science and Engineering, data.bris on Arts and Humanities and UWE’s project on Health and Life Sciences; OpenExeter is further down the road than the rest of us, and is rolling out data management across the University of Exeter.
As well as these differences, we also picked out many areas of commonality in which we can work together.
We identified some potential for linking up for shared train-the-trainer events to help our support staff to get up to speed. The data management agenda implies new skills to be acquired right across our institutions, from researchers and research students through to IT supporters and librarians.
Engagement and advocacy
It was noted that “advocacy” shades into “training” quite subtly — especially as many people feel that a need for training implies that they can’t do their job properly. There’s particularly a need to minimise the need for training by integrating data management processes with the research workflow as transparently as possible.
Bristol have a champion in the Faculty of Arts office who is very good at spotting and passing on bids and other queries which relate to data management — this sounds like a useful approach.
There are differing opinions (in the sector generally) about who should have responsibility for data management advice and support. In the long term new staff will need to be recruited, but in the short term it’s about up-skilling existing staff appropriately. The danger here is rising demand for support may outstrip supply, and we’ll all be working hard to manage expectations and ensure this doesn’t happen.
We all have an institutional repository of some sort, mostly for publications, and are keen to develop digital repositories for data too. Both UWE and Bath have EPrints-based repositories and are evaluating whether EPrints will be suitable for data as well.
Research information management
As well as developing repositories for data, Bath, Bristol and Exeter are currently implementing Current Research Information Systems to aid centralised monitoring of research outcomes (especially important for REF2014). Bath and Bristol are using Pure, with Exeter already having established Symplectic — we’re all interested in ways to incorporate information about research data into these systems.
Discussing policy development is tricky, as it can directly affect competitiveness. Nonetheless, it’s clear that some collaboration can be profitable so we’ll be looking at ways that we can do this appropriately.
We’re also all planning to send representatives to the upcoming policy workshop in Leeds.
We’re all making use of various structured tools, such as DAF and CARDIO, so will be able to share information about how well these tools work for us, along with the general impressions about the results they bring us.
We all went away from the meeting with a lot to think about and a few interesting ideas, so stay tuned for more there. In addition to this post, there are also blog posts from Exeter and UWE for you to take a look at.
Many thanks to everyone who made the meeting worthwhile by contributing, and to Exeter for agreeing to host another in a few months time.