Research at Risk

Research Data Management : activity round-up

We wanted to take the opportunity to give you a round up of the continuing work of the team taking forward Jisc’s research data work. Among our spring 2015 highlights are not least the Research Data Spring itself, as can be seen from Daniela’s recent updates on this blog. Back in February this was the theme of one of two workshops following on from the IDCC conference in London; the other covered “Research at Risk” – our overarching theme for the range of work we are delivering to help universities and others address the urgent challenges involved in sharing and managing research data – and the “Directions for Research Data Management” report we developed alongside ARMA, SCONUL, RLUK, RUGIT and UCISA. These set up a framework which informs a variety of Jisc work, and can be seen as evidence both of our understanding of the pressure that the sector is under, and our intention to invest in the right infrastructure and advice to support this.

One very clear example is the guidance we have developed to support institutions in addressing the EPSRC mandate. Time and time again we have heard this issue raised as the major priority that the sector faces, this detailed and informative report (co-authored by our own Verena alongside Sarah Jones of the DCC) offers key advice which will be critical in unlocking eligibility for future research grants.

But not all of our work is focused on immediate concerns. Some of our work is focused on developing and implementing key standards that enable more efficient and effective practices and services for research information and research data. An investment in the right standards  leads to a benefit in the efficiency of research and its related processes, both sector-wide, and globally. For example, our ORCID pilot project (developed alongside ARMA), has culminated in us bringing together a number of HEI’s and research funders with a view to benefiting from a national consortium arrangement with ORCID. (You can respond to our consultation on ORCID here). Another example of work focused on the potential for greater adoption of standards, was the recent RCUK-Jisc interoperability of service project workshop. This brought together HEI’s nominated by ARMA, with Jisc and RCUK staff and experts to examine the current interoperability challenges facing Research Council and HEI’s systems and the role that standards can play here. This process is expected to lead to a series of recommendations and positive suggestions for change for the Research Councils and others to consider at a strategic level.

With the increasing amount of research data being stored in a variety of institutional and subject focused data services, how can we ensure that this data is discoverable? Through the UK Research Data Discovery Service pilot , we are laying the firm foundations, and setting out the business case, for building such a service. This Jisc-led project, supported by the DCC and the UK Data Archive, includes 9 participating Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and 5 Data Centres. These 14 pilots will be working to make their metadata, which points to the underlying data held in their repositories, available for harvesting by the discovery service. Part of the project is to evaluate software solutions for building the service and continuing metadata standards work. The initial workshop took place in late April where an initial set of use cases and requirements were gathered. These will be developed further to ensure the service meets the needs of HEIs and Data Centres. With such a service in place, researchers, data managers, and funders, for example, will be able to discover what data already exists, encouraging reuse, collaborations and highlight the value of the data. You can follow the project’s progress through its blog.

Another area is the need for cohesion around archival, preservation and storage infrastructure for research data. This is the focus of a vitally important survey we have launched. (closing date May 22nd). This covers a variety of systems and processes, and aims to capture information from HEI’s so we can understand what investment and support is required by the sector from Jisc. Storage and archival systems are “big-ticket” investments, and we are understandably keen to do the right things in this space – in terms of both current and anticipated needs, and in building infrastructure that is future-proofed by a commitment to interoperability with other commonly used tools.

This brief update gives a taster of the work we have underway. In the weeks and month to come we will be updating both this blog and the “Research at Risk” page to update you on the results and outputs from our RDM activity.  The twitter hashtag #JiscRDM can also now be used for related work.

(with thanks to David Kernohan and other members of the team for their contributions to this post).

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