Research at Risk

Research Data Network — who, what, where, when, how and why?

Research data networkSome of you may have noticed something called the Research Data Network1 being mention with increasing regularity by people in and around the world of Research Data Management. No doubt you’re wondering what it’s all about (you have indeed clicked into this blog which suggests a degree of curiosity). Hopefully this short piece will satisfy your itch.

In the words of Julie Andrews “Let’s begin at the very beginning”. When we (Jisc) first put forward the idea of a shared service a lot of people were interested. When the pilot service was being scoped that interest stepped up a notch—our first event in Birmingham was well oversubscribed. We already knew that the pilot service needed a variety of users with different levels of maturity and different use cases. Many of those interested occupied similar niches so it was inevitable that some people would be disappointed. We couldn’t provide a place for everyone. But this left us with a dilemma. How could we keep the wider community involved? How could we disseminate the rich seem of knowledge, ideas and products arising from the shared service pilot to ensure that everyone benefited as quickly as possible? And that’s where the Research Data Network was born.

It’s a people network for anyone interested in Research Data Management. Although it was born from the interest surrounding the shared service, that’s just the starting point. It’s an open network with no subscriptions, no specific terms of reference—research data is a broad church—and (ultimately) no ownership apart from those who want to be involved. It’s not totally anarchistic though. There are a few regular things happening and a web site ( acting as a central information hub.


One of the things we want to do as a network is get together on a regular basis to discuss items of interest, items proposed by the community (which is where you come in—more on that below). At the moment we’re aiming at once a quarter with locations all over the UK. The shared service pilot institutions are acting as the initial hosts and to date we’ve had an event in Cardiff in May and there are three more planned for the near future in Cambridge (6th September—hold the date), St Andrews in December and York in the new year (you heard it here first). Are you interested in hosting a Research Data Network event? If so please contact Daniela Duca ( in the first instance and we can get things underway.

Discussion topics

As I said above, the topics to be discussed are suggested by the community. We’ve found that they tend to quite naturally coalesce around themes. For instance, in Cardiff sensitive data and the economics of RDM emerged as core themes alongside project updates, demonstrations and keynote presentations. The agenda and links to presentations can be found on the site ( We’re currently in the throes of planning the next two events and would like your suggestions of things you’d like discussed or things you’d like to show and say. The site has a discussion area where you can add discussion threads and comment on existing ideas Themes are emerging once again, but don’t let that constrain you. Got an idea? You know what to do.
So that’s the Research Data Network. Want to contribute to the discussion? Want to know more? It’s all on the website with more material being added all the time. Off you go –

1or even “The RDN”, but acronyms are frowned upon in this arena and for this readership so that’s the last time you’ll see that here.

By Paul Stokes

Paul has had a varied career in both the commercial sector and academia (and all points in-between). At present he leads on preservation for Jisc's Preservation service (and is currently referred to as a "Product Manager"). He is a director of the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) and a director of the Open Preservation Foundation (OPF). He's been passionate about repositories and preservation for many decades and currently also has a number of bees in his bonnet regarding costs, value, sustainability, and storage.

1 reply on “Research Data Network — who, what, where, when, how and why?”

Comments are closed.