Research at Risk

Research at Risk – research data management …where are we now?

Welcome back to the Jisc research data management blog. I wanted to update you on the activities that are underway and the plans that are emerging for new work. This is a bit of long post so thanks for bearing with me! Clearly research data, its management and re-use remains an important issue for the university sector with research funder policies to comply with and also with the longer-term goal of supporting better research and new innovation through accessibility to research data.

Over the past few months we’ve been initiating some new activities and working as part of the co-design process to build a plan for new work, this all falls within the theme of Research at Risk. The Research at Risk theme is largely about research data management and came from the Co-design consultation – the main aim being that Jisc should support universities so research data management becomes ‘business as usual’ over the two year period, well that was the key success criteria that was set out as part of the Co-design challenge – that’s quite a challenge. Naturally there are different types of work that Jisc can work with the sector on here, so some of it being about the creation of shared services and infrastructure and others about building consensus on policy and technical standards as well as good practice, and we also need to engage in new ideas and innovations. The overall goal being easy to use advice, tools and services.

Work underway of course includes the on-going activity at the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) with the provision of things like DMP On-Line, and the Research Data Management Forum which holds its next meeting on 18th & 19th November. We are also supporting another phase of BRISSKit – the biomedical research information software kit with the University of Leicester. In this phase we are working to develop a plan for on-going sustainability of a service, this will be evaluated in the early part of 2015 and the intention is that this will form a service to universities in the UK. We’re also working on the next stage of the UK research data discovery service, this builds on the proto-type that DCC and UKDS took forward last year [the link takes you to the proto-types reports], the idea here being that there will be a central access point to the data sets being created and made accessible via UK universities and disciplinary archives. You might also recall a feasibility piece of work that looked at the potential of a database of journal research data policies – well this is also being taken forward and the next stage is being scoped. This is an idea that seems to have come of age and there is much talk of the need of more consistent policies from journals with regards to research data, a particularly high profile policy being the one that PLOS issued. At the moment colleagues at the University of Nottingham are assessing the current status of policies. I should also mention the new Janet shared data centre which was recently launched, and the Arkivum agreement for completeness as these are of course relevant services.

As well as developing these central solutions we will launch a project in the autumn that seeks to find new solutions for research data deposit and re-use through innovative partnerships including developers, learned societies, academic libraries and IT departments etc. so for this watch this space…we intend to start to gather project ideas openly on the web and the successful ideas will be invited to a ‘sandpit’ workshop in the first quarter of 2015 where project ideas can be further developed and those that are selected by a judging panel will receive funds.

This isn’t all – through the Research at Risk theme we have undertaken some consultation workshops and interviews and a number of areas have been identified as key areas for action – these include:

  • The development of a shared vision – which we are developing partly though a roadmap analysis and report with RLUK, SCONUL, UCISA, RUGIT and ARMA. Sheridan Brown has been undertaking some work on this and we will hold a two day workshop in Cambridge on 6th & 7th November to forumlate this.
  • A case for sharing research data: how do we advocate and sustain the sharing of research data? What is the evidence for the benefits of the practice?
  • Data about data: how do we describe the data that is shared? How do we support discovery, reuse and research management & curation ? There was a clear call for a simple schema and also sets of guidance and action that ensure key metadata is in place and common place.
  • Data management planning: what is a sustainable and workable data management plan? How can we support institutions in developing an approach that works for them? We’ll be considering whether a data management planning registry should be built.
  • Defining compliance: What is required to meet EPSRC (and other) requirements? How can these must-haves best be understood? How can we invest strategically to meet requirements from all funders?
  • Looking for the gaps: What research data infrastructure is already available to the sector? What is missing? What should be prioritised for development? Are there further framework agreements?
  • What we know so far: the UK HE sector have a world-leading reputation in experimental and practical work about research data. How can the findings and products of this work best be presented to support the sector?
  • Making data count: can the benefits of sharing data be usefully measured? Can reuse and citation behaviour be supported via these measurements?
  • Changing cultures: how can we support changes in the behaviour of researchers? How can sharing research data become a normal expectation in all research?
  • Data for the future: What is needed to support institutions and researchers in the long-term preservation of research data? How can data migration and long-term sustainability be managed?
  • Data storage: How can sustainable and affordable data storage solutions be offered to the sector? How can we support economies of scale?

At the moment a plan building on these areas and the consultation is being drawn up, one that is feasible for the next two years. As part of this we anticipate some further pilots, shared services (including access to existing products and software) and further clarification and state of the art best practice.

Further developments will be shared via this blog as soon as we can, so please do keep an eye out, and please do get in touch if you want further information, and comments are also very welcome.

Cheers, Rachel

By Rachel Bruce

Rachel Bruce, Deputy Chief Innovation Officer, Jisc