Event report: research data management and the role of libraries

On Tuesday I attended the excellent joint JIBS/RLUK event ‘Demystifying Research Data: don’t be scared be prepared’, held at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London.The event was aimed at subject/liaison librarians, key stakeholders who are likely to become increasingly involved in supporting research data management (RDM) activities as institutions start to develop their RDM policies and services. This event really did help in raising awareness of RDM and considered the roles that librarians have in delivering a robust RDM infrastructure and service within a University environment.

The programme was a good mix of presentations and breakout group sessions and I left the event with the feeling that RDM is certainly a hot and topical issue amongst university library staff challenged and engaged with the whole issue of RDM.

All the presentations and notes from the breakout sessions will be made available on the JIBS website, so I will just blog about some of the highlights I took away from this event. Definitely worth having a look at all the presentations once they are made available.

Michael Day from UKOLN gave a thorough overview of the importance of RDM and outlined how until recently there was no consistent way of managing research data in universities. Increasingly research bodies are becoming stricter in what they expect from the research they fund and managing research is important because it enables data re-use, ensures research integrity, improves research impact, and enables UK HEIs to fulfill any regulatory requirements.

He stressed the importance of buy-in from senior management on the necessity for good RDM practice and also to remember that RDM is the shared responsibility of both the institution and the researcher.

When it comes to the institutional drivers for effective RDM practice, two were continually mentioned throughout the day, by several presenters and in the breakout sessions:

  1. Compliance with funding mandates and policies
  2. EPSRC expectations and their Roadmap 2012 – compliance is essential by 2015

Liz Holliday presented on the UWE JISCMRD project and she gave a personal reflection on future librarian roles in RDM and why librarians are, or should be, involved. Liz’s presentation can be viewed here.

Rachel Proudfoot from the University of Leeds presented on the JISCMRD RoaDMaP project which is assessing data management requirements in a number of different subject disciplines and at different stages of the research application process (pre-award, live award, and post-award). She talked about current RDM capacity at Leeds and how important it is to ’embed’ RDM as part of normal university practice.

The presentation from Carmen O’Dell and Barbara Sen (University of Sheffield) was on RDMRose . RDMRose is a JISC funded project which aims to produce taught and continuing professional development (CPD) learning materials in Research Data Management (RDM).

This interesting project has just started and it aims to develop and adapt learning materials about RDM to meet the specific needs of liaison librarians in university libraries, both for practitioners’ CPD and for embedding into the postgraduate taught (PGT) curriculum. Its deliverables will include OER materials suitable for learning in multiple modes, including face to face and self-directed learning.

Dorothy Byatt, University of Southampton outlined how their JISCMRD project DataPool, a project for the research lifecycle, aims to build RDM capacity, develop RDM skills at the University, and support researchers in RDM related issues.

Their RDM RoadMap was already in place (as a result of a previous project) and they have made extensive use of the DMP Online Tool and adapted it to their own structures and institution. She also said that institutions must embed RDM – but this does require a cultural change.

A fellow delegate said that they felt that it was librarians who were at the forefront of developing institutional RDM capability and RDM services are not just a ‘library’ issue, but a university wide issue. Co-operation between libraries, IT services, research support offices and graduate services was essential. There are so many stakeholders and interested parties to consider.

Overall it was a really useful event and particularly useful for ADMIRe as we plan and develop our RDM infrastructure, tools, and policies at the University of Nottingham.