Author Archives: tomparsons

JISC, EPSRC and DCC RDM awareness event at Nottingham

As the ADMIRe project reaches its final stages, we were pleased to host a large Research Data Management awareness event on The University of Nottingham’s main campus. The event was the culmination of extensive planning by Laurian Williamson and Research Graduate Services, It was designed so that Heads of Schools and senior Professional Services managers could learn about RDM and the impact this may have on their respective roles.

The event started with a buffet lunch, before continuing with a selection of enlightening talks from both external and internal speakers. Attendance was limited to 60 people and we were pleased to say that we had a full house, with only one or two seats being empty in the room. The agenda of the event is here: ADMIRe RDM Event Briefing and Programme

The speakers and their presentations are listed below:

Dr Simon Hodson, Jisc Managing Research Data Programme Manager: Hodson MRD Overview – Nottingham
Ben Ryan, EPSRC Senior Manager, Research Outcomes: EPSRC RDM (Nottingham June 2013)
Joy Davidson, Digital Curation Centre (DCC) Associate Director: Introduction to RDM DCC
Caroline Williams, Director of Libraries and Research and Learning Resources, University of Nottingham: ADMIRe RDM Event June 2013
Paul Kennedy, Group Leader, Security Group, IT Services, University of Nottingham: RDM-Launch-Data-Security
Dr Steven Bamford, Senior Research Fellow, School of Physics & Astronomy, University of Nottingham: RDM meeting Steve Bamford Galaxy Zoo

The talks were followed by Q&A sessions and a panel discussion at the end of the afternoon. As would be expected, discussions were lively and we gave researchers the chance to ask the RDM experts and learn how other institutions are faring. Questions from the floor focused upon the issues around:

  1. Long-term funding of data retention and storage
  2. Sharing sensitive and commercial data
  3. What to store and what to delete (is it cheaper to re-run an experiment for example)
  4. Obsolescence of software/data
  5. Quality of the research being impaired by RDM policy requirements
  6. Subject repositories versus an institutional policy
  7. National and international efforts on RDM
  8. Lodging patent applications and the timely release of data
  9. Costs of data management after the grant ends
  10. The area of PhD and data ownership and long-term responsibility for that data
  11. Metadata and contextual data (e.g. from email trails)
  12. Anonymous data and data fusion (identifying individuals by fusing disparate data sets)

One poignant comment noted that the EPSRC deadline of 2015 is only two years away, so significant progress must be made in all of these areas if RDM is to succeed – both at Nottingham and in the wider research community.

Although this represents the final researcher engagement session for ADMIRe, it is not the end of RDM at Nottingham. Plans are in place for sessions such as these to continue throughout the coming years at Nottingham and explore and answer the questions that were raised today.

JISC Managing Research Data Benefits & Evidence Workshop

In late November I attended the JISC Managing Research Data Benefits & Evidence Workshop in Bristol. The two day event was a good chance to review progress and devise KPIs and metrics with which to measure the success of both our project and the implementation of our service. As you would expect there’s a huge amount of reading to be done around policies, funding requirements and work coming out of the other JISC MRD projects, luckily I’ve taken this speed reading course…

I have managed to produce a workable benefits and evidence template, which is available here: Benefits Management Plan – ADMIRe

As you will see, a lot of the metrics require a sufficient level of maturity and are mainly forward looking – our project is expected to hand over a fledgling RDM service, with minimal metrics collected and provide a baseline for what already exists.

JISC MRD Workshop thoughts

The ADMIRe team had an entertaining few days at the JISC MRD workshop on the 24th-25th October 2012. It’s very interesting to learn from our fellow travellers and see where our commonalities lie.

Some highlights for us were:

  • Evaluating which data to retain and discard, the NERC checklist was particularly interesting.
  • Using the JANET brokerage to lever resources and explore shared RDM services
  • Training and guidance – there were some useful examples of RDM websites
  • RDM business cases – Bristol are far ahead here

The final point is one that is looming ever larger in our work, we’re a year into the project and the focus has shifted from one of analysis to implementation – a noticeable change that has required a shift in both mindset and working patterns. Our RDM website is due to launch in November and our RDM survey results are also due for release – both deliverables that will engage the academic community and generate interest in our fledgling service. In this respect, we’re working hard to understand what the University requires and what roles, skills and departmental structures are required to support RDM requests.

Clearly, we expect the website to generate enquiries, but do we signpost them to other people (i.e. Library, IT Support etc) or engage with them ourselves? these are questions which others at the conference are faced with and many are at a similar point – is launching a website equivalent to launching a full-scale service with limited support (i.e. only the JISC funded team) and is this a wise move?

If anything, our progress to date is making it exceptionally clear that now is the time to take our thoughts on sustainability and to turn this into a structured business case – so expect updates on this as we progress.

ADMIRe presentations and posters are available here:

ADMIRe JISC Workshop Poster

University of Nottingham RDM policies

RDM survey

Last week we launched our RDM survey across the University using the Bristol Online Survey tool.

So far the results are interesting, we’ve had 140 responses and the majority of people seem to be working with standard research files e.g. Word, PDF, Excel or software generated files.

Expect a full update when the survey closes.


First ADMIRe pilot in the Classics Department

We are pleased to announce that ADMIRe is now working with The University of Nottingham Classics Department. This promising pilot examines the storage and citation of large data sets and general research data.

When we first approached the department, we were surprised to learn that the size of their data sets is on a par with the sciences. They regularly use specialist equipment to scan and model statues and sculptures in museums, the resulting files are 1-3Gb and are stored and backed-up locally. So as well as providing feedback on our proposed data store solution, they will also be one of the first departments to test our prototype data file store service.

As well as large data, the collaboration gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of ADMIRe and JISC RDM by linking to an AHRC project on Digital Transformations in Arts and Humanities. Here our specialist knowledge and expertise on RDM can really add value to their project and strengthen the outputs of both ADMIRe and the Digital Humanities project.

More updates will follow as the pilot progresses.

MRD Hack Day Manchester May 2012

Since my start with the ADMIRe project, I’ve been both impressed and terrified by the choice of research data solutions out there. There are: open-source projects, commercial offerings and bespoke institutional software and they all appear to roughly do the same thing in different ways. There are however, certain key functionalities which I believe a research data management system should have:

  1. Ability to store and retrieve research data
  2. Ability to store metadata
  3. Assigns a unique identifier to each data set
  4. Offers a workflow
  5. Handle security and access considerations
  6. Handle various data sets and files
  7. Be robust in terms of software and hardware architecture
  8. Be scalable

No doubt there are numerous other requirements, but these were some of the key functionalities I was looking to explore in greater detail at the JISC sponsored MRD Hack day in Manchester, 3rd -4th May 2012. From an ADMIRe perspective, we have a number of technical options that are based upon commercial products and infrastructure. So it was interesting to learn of relevant open-source software during the event and see developers working to implement solutions to problems.

As my interests were in requirements rather than coding, I chose to participate in the metadata working group. During the event we reviewed existing data schemas and outlined a schema that would allow interoperability between institutional repositories. This schema will be used within ADMIRe and the discussions around this subject, provided insight into the types of activities and functions ADMIRe will have to provide.

A real highlight for me was the concept of data papers from Brian Hole of Ubiquity Press. Captured metadata can be used to form a data paper that is searchable and most importantly, is citable via a Digital Object Identifier (DOI).This is very much the friendly-side of metadata and is one of the ways that ADMIRe should be presenting data to the end-user.

From a personal note, it was good to learn from Alex Ball about the DataCite API and actually mint a DOI for a test data set, something that is integral to the reuse aspect of research data.

All in all it was a valuable two days, with plenty of interaction between developers and non-coders alike.