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Jisc RDM Shared Service – Perspectives from Cambridge

In the first of a series of blog posts from RDM Shared Service Pilot institutions Sarah Middle, Institutional Repository Manager, University of Cambridge, outlines their perspectives and motivations for wanting to be involved with the project 

The Jisc Shared Research Data Management Service pilot will allow institutions to work collaboratively with the aim of producing a system that is greater than the sum of their parts. I started work as Institutional Repository Manager at the University of Cambridge’s Office of Scholarly Communication in November last year, and am excited to be involved in this new project to bring together data, standards and best practice from different institutions. As well as the potential benefits for research data management at Cambridge, I hope that on a more personal level, this project will allow me to meet with and learn from colleagues in similar roles throughout the UK.

As well as having the potential to provide a better quality system, the shared RDM service is likely to increase efficiency and reduce costs – rather than replicating the same smaller models everywhere, there will be one central hub. It should also provide solutions to particular issues faced by individual institutions, which they do not currently have the expertise or resources to solve themselves. Particular issues we have faced with our current setup at Cambridge include data management, curation and preservation of big data and sensitive data, and we welcome the potential facility to solve these issues that this project is intending to provide.

Having a shared service in place should pave the way for collaborative efforts to commission and produce new features and resources to benefit the whole academic community. Institutions will be able to pool their resources and initiate far more ambitious and important projects than is possible on a single departmental budget. Working together will enable us to approach major suppliers as a group, which should give us more leverage in negotiation and ensure that funds are used wisely.

In terms of discoverability, a shared service will increase the visibility of individual institutional data collections by enabling cross-institutional searching from a single platform. Institutions will be able to commit more of their time and resources to enhancing metadata than developing and maintaining systems, which should improve the quality of description. Additionally, a shared service could provide the foundations for introducing a minimum metadata standard for datasets, which would provide some standardisation across institutions, potentially enabling better linking between datasets.

At Cambridge, we are particularly excited to be involved in this pilot, as we believe that collaborating with other institutions in this way is key to the long-term sustainability of research data management services, and we are keen to help shape these plans from the outset.

Written by Sarah Middle, Institutional Repository Manager, University of Cambridge –

One of the specific issues that Sarah and Cambridge hope the project will assist them in is the management of sensitive data. Marta Teperek from Cambridge and Fiona Nielsen from Repositive  recently published a blog post from the Birds of a Feather discussion about sharing personal/sensitive data that took place at IDCC 16 in Amsterdam.

Last year this blog also hosted a guest post from Louise Corti and Richard Welpton from UK Data Service (UKDS) and the Administrative Data Research Network(ADRN) highlighting their work in providing access to sensitive data, including the  5 safes:

  • Safe People
  • Safe Projects
  • Safe Settings
  • Safe Outputs
  • Save Data

Jisc is keen to explore challenges and best practice in this area though working with our pilot institutions and the wider RDM community.