A Swiss Army Knife for RDM

Andrea Chiarelli works at Research Consulting Ltd, who won a competitive tender to build a research data management toolkit for Jisc. Here he describes the project in a little more detail for us, and sets up a call to action to the research data community.

Where do you go to find information on research data management (RDM)? What might look like a trivial question is actually open to a surprisingly wide range of answers. These may depend on one’s role, level of knowledge of the topic, affiliation, and more!

Ideally, the most practical scenario would be a hub where information on RDM is aggregated. This would improve access to resources for all stakeholders in the field, independently of the above factors. Jisc is currently seeking to create an online RDM toolkit based on these principles, gathering existing resources from various institutions and organisations, and complementing them with Jisc-produced material.

Research Consulting is supporting Jisc in this respect, sourcing and cataloguing relevant material and engaging with specialists in the field, as well as users of RDM services.

Why create an RDM toolkit…

Over the past few years, Jisc has been working on the development of the Research Data Shared Service (RDSS) – a research object repository solution that will be funder policy compliant, and will support best practice. The pilot RDSS service will enable researchers to easily deposit data for publication, discovery, safe storage, long term archiving, and preservation.

Jisc have recognised that the experience gained in creating the RDSS, alongside other projects in the field, puts them in a unique position to help higher education institutions and research organisations. An RDM toolkit will pull together both Jisc’s own documentation and a wealth of other resources on the topic. These will take into account different audiences, with different levels of expertise on RDM.

After a round of preliminary research, we have identified over 100 reputable reports, websites, guides, and more, which are spread all over the internet. While, in some cases, this is a legitimate choice (see, e.g., the case of institutional RDM webpages), in others it appears clear that a single point of access for the material would be beneficial for all stakeholders involved.

…and what should it contain?

The first sources we identified for inclusions were, predictably, the work on RDM we did ourselves for Jisc, including supporting the preparation of an RDM business case, running the 2016 Data Asset Framework survey, and gathering RDM benefits case studies. We then moved on to other Jisc material, such as their guide on RDM, and other websites and reports.

The question, now, is what else should be there? We are carefully browsing the internet for relevant material and gathering new outputs almost every day. These are being enriched with metadata and will be used to produce a powerful mindmap of resources that will feed into the final Jisc RDM toolkit website. However, we are aware that we might be missing something or neglecting some specific resources that you use to carry out your work. It is, therefore, essential for us to seek your help and support, to ensure that the toolkit actually meets your needs and fills the gaps in your knowledge (if any!).

How can I help?

The project leading to the creation of a Jisc RDM toolkit will involve as many stakeholders in the field as possible. Whether you are a data user, data creator, data manager, IT expert, or cover any other role in the field, please do email me to let me know what resources you use the most. We will carefully assess them and make sure that all the most important topics are included in the final RDM toolkit website.

We will also be conducting interviews with experts in the field and develop a specification for the RDM toolkit via a workshop. Should you wish to be updated about these, or present yourself as a candidate, please get in touch!

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