The University of Bath has spent the past few months working on their response to the EPSRC’s letter to Vice-Chancellors. In this letter, the EPSRC set out their nine expectations for how institutions in receipt of their funding should manage their research data.
Responsibility for responding to the EPSRC’s expectations – the roadmap setting out how compliance would be achieved – lay with the University’s Research Data Steering Group (RDSG), a work group set up in January 2011 to advise on Research Data Management (RDM) across the institution. There is considerable overlap between members of the RDSG and the Research360 project team and as such, the Roadmap for EPSRC was developed alongside Research360 project work on a longer term RDM strategy.
We are now able to share the University of Bath Roadmap for EPSRC: Compliance with Research Data Management Expectations. We also wish to share the process that we went through to develop and obtain approval for our Roadmap, positive feedback that we have received and to tell you what we intend to do next.
How the Roadmap was developed
As part of the Research360 project we used Monash University’s “Research Data Management Strategy and Strategic Plan 2012-2015″ as a blueprint, from which we developed our own draft strategy and implementation plan. This original strategy consisted of a series of objectives and activities aligned with a number of themes, which in turn demonstrated how management of research data contributes to existing, long term University strategies.
We then turned our attention to the EPSRC’s nine expectations. Following a helpful series of blog posts by the DCC, and based on our experiences over the first few months of Research360, we started by identifying what the University of Bath is already doing to meet the expectations. We then re-structured the proposed objectives and activities from our draft strategy so that they were aligned with the EPSRC’s expectations.
Importantly, this approach meant that whilst fulfilling the requirements of the EPSRC, our proposed activities were primarily focused on building a sustainable infrastructure that will meet the data management needs of the University.
Getting the Roadmap approved
Once approved by the RDSG, we sent the Roadmap for EPSRC to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Research. Working with the PVC Research was critical to the successful development of the Roadmap and we are extremely grateful for Professor Millar’s support. The PVC Research oversees the RDSG and is Chair of the Research360 Steering Group. As such, she already had a strong awareness of Research Data Management activities at Bath, and was able to provide invaluable guidance and a viewpoint from senior management from within the institution.
In order to meet the EPSRC’s 1st May 2012 deadline, we did not have time to progress the Roadmap through the normal approval process. We therefore submitted the Roadmap directly to the Vice-Chancellor’s Group (VCG). Despite positive comments from the VCG, they were not able to approve the first draft of the Roadmap. This provided us with an opportunity to incorporate their comments – mainly that we had been a little too ambitious in our aims and deadlines – before a resubmission of the Roadmap at the following VCG meeting, where the Roadmap was finally approved.
Submission to EPSRC and encouraging feedback
The University of Bath Roadmap for EPSRC: Compliance with Research Data Management Expectations was submitted by the Vice-Chancellor to EPSRC on 1st May 2012. We have since received some extremely encouraging feedback: Ben Ryan, Senior Evaluation Manager, EPSRC, congratulated Bath on the document, and described it as “an excellent example of an appropriate response”. He stated that the Roadmap “fully meets our needs for assurance that the University is taking our policy framework on research data seriously”. Further comments from Ben Ryan; from Professor Millar, the PVC Research; and Dr Liz Lyon, Director of UKOLN and one of the Roadmap’s authors, can be read in a news item about our Roadmap for EPSRC on the University of Bath website.
Building on the Roadmap – what we will do next
Following approval by the VCG, we have been able to present the Roadmap at a number of other relevant committees, to all major stakeholders and to those who will share responsibility for implementing the Roadmap. Over the next few months, we will be working closely with these stakeholders to explain RDM and its benefits in more detail, and to address any concerns that have been raised about the challenging cultural changes that lie ahead.
Now that the RDSG’s Roadmap for EPSRC has been approved, Research360 will continue to work on the developing the long term institutional RDM Strategy. The activities and objectives in the Roadmap for EPSRC will form the basis of a dynamic RDM Operational Plan, which will accompany the RDM Strategy as a Research360 project deliverable. We will also continue to work on the supporting Institutional RDM Business Case. These three documents will then undergo a longer review and approval process, starting to progress through the relevant committees in the autumn.