On 12-13 March, in conjunction with DCC and the University of Leeds ROADMAP Project, the JISC Managing Research Data Programme held a workshop to examine challenges around developing institutional research data management policies.
This is an important area of activity for projects in the JISCMRD Programme. All 17 large infrastructure projects are developing policies – in 13 cases these are for the principle host institution. In the other four – looking at disciplinary or metadata issues across institutions – such policies will apply perhaps at the institutional level, perhaps at the departmental level, across a number of partner institutions.
Agreeing an institutional RDM policy has been viewed as an important step in establishing an effective and sustainable RDM infrastructure and support service. It sets the tone, underlining an institutional commitment and expectations. Projects report that the developing a policy has been useful in getting support from key stakeholders, in clarifying priorities and in testing a projects’ understanding of where roles and responsibilities lie in the provision of research data management support.
The DCC has identified three currently public RDM policies in UK universities, as well as a Statement of Commitment. A number more are currently at advanced stages in the approval process.
Such efforts have been given a shot in the arm by the EPSRC Policy Framework on Research Data, which requires that research institutions prepare an internal roadmap by 1 May 2012. The roadmap is an instrument – resulting from a gap analysis by which an institution will ensure compliance with EPSRC’s expectations by 1 May 2015.
An institutional RDM policy is likely to be an important part of such efforts.
In parallel breakout sessions, the workshop tackled three thematic areas relating to the development of RDM policies. These were:
- What approach are institutions taking to the development of RDM policies?
- How is support and approval being gained for the ratification of RDM policies?
- How are institutions planning to support the implementation of the policies?
In a fourth – plenary – session, the workshop discussed issues around the related issue of preparing a roadmap to meet EPSRC requirements.
DCC officers and JISCMRD Evidence Gatherers were on hand to facilitate discussion and to take notes. The notes will form the basis of outputs from the workshop. At the time of writing, these are likely to take the form of an abbreviated summary of discussions, key points and outstanding questions. This will undoubtedly also contribute towards a DCC checklist or step-by-step guide to developing an institutional RDM policy, based upon the experiences and findings of the projects and institution involved.
My immediate ‘take homes’ were as follows:
- A checklist of policies and supporting guidance and help materials for institutions developing and implementing such policies would be very useful. This is something on which the DCC could work, in collaboration with and collating findings from the JISC Managing Research Data Programme. Relatedly, Catherine Pink of the Bath Research 360 project has posted a preliminary checklist of guidance required.
- Some projects will be developing guidance materials in the form of researcher targeted scenarios or workthroughs. This idea was warmly received and it was also suggested that the process of creating such materials could provide valuable deeper understanding of requirements for institutional infrastructure and support services.
- One of a number of recurrent themes over the two days was the question: ‘what research data should be retained’. It was felt that policies – or the guidance materials supporting them – should do something to guide researchers and support staff in this regard. Disciplinary research considerations are likely to be the primary determinants of potential reuse value of research data – but it is possible to adduce some general principles. It was felt that more guidance and – above all – examples in this area would be extremely useful.
Since the workshop, a number of attendees have posted blogs containing reflections and summaries:
Bill Worthington, Research Data Toolkit Hertfordshire Project: Reflections on JISCMRD-DCC Policy Workshop
Laura Molloy, University of Glasgow and JISCMRD Evidence Gatherer: Emerging Themes from the JISCMRD Institutional RDM Policy Workshop
Scott Brander, Cerif for Datasets Project: Institutional Data Management Policies and Roadmaps
Angus Whyte, DCC: Turning Roadmaps into Action
Stephen Gray, data.bris Project: The Value of Research Data
It is worth noting that the scene was set by a couple of blog posts:
Jonathan Tedds, University of Leicester and JISCMRD Evidence Gatherer: Developing Research Data Management Policy
Sarah Jones, DCC: Navigating the Potholes
Presentations from the JISC Managing Research Data Programme workshop on data management planning – held on Friday 23 March – are now available.
The event page on the JISC website provides links to presentations given by projects tasked to explore the challenges of designing and implementing data management plans for research projects or for departments in specific disciplines, and to customise and implement the DCC’s DMPonline tool for specific uses. Information about the projects can be found here and here.
David Shotton, PI of the Oxford DMPonline Project has made the content of the analysis he presented available as a couple of blog posts in which he categorises and aligns the questions that comprise a data management plan ; and then makes comparisons of DMP questions sets and draws conclusions.
At the workshop, Adrian Richardson of DCC demonstrated version 3 of the DMPonline tool and his colleague Kelly Miller ran an exercise to gather feedback and suggestions for further development. Kelly has blogged a summary of these suggestions on the DCC website.
Those with an interest in the interim outputs from the JISC-funded data management planning projects – there are more to come – may be interested in the Appendices to the Workshop Programme where outputs are listed and which may be accessed here.
A competition was held to gather participants’ opinion as to:
1) which project had produced the most reusable outputs;
2) which project had produced the most potentially significant outputs (even if they were not yet reusable); and
3) which project participants wanted to find out more after the workshop.
The winners in each category were awarded a copy of Managing Research Data, ed. Graham Pryor and were as follows:
3) David Shotton, for the Oxford DMPonline Project.
All the projects in this Strand of the Managing Research Data Programme are to be congratulated in their work so far. Most of these projects will be completing between now and the end of May 2012 and will be making their final deliverables available during that timeframe.