Research at Risk

Crossing the finish line? The release of the Jisc RDM toolkit

Andrea Chiarelli outlines the rewarding experience of creating the new Jisc Research Data Management (RDM) toolkit, but leaves open the invitation to improve it.

We have collaborated with the Jisc steering group, RDM practitioners, UX experts, developers and more to build what we believe is a very useful resource for the research community.

How we got here

In summary, the project went through three phases:

  • Scoping, defining the rationale for the RDM toolkit and Jisc’s role with respect to RDM support
  • Research, consisting of discussions with key stakeholders, selection of the audience and the gathering of material for inclusion
  • Design, considering pathways to access resources, the expected impact of the toolkit and ways to keep it up to date.

The process leading to the RDM toolkit was discussed in Barcelona at the 13th International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC18) (you can find our poster on Zenodo). We also presented a poster on the completed toolkit at the INORMS conference in June 2018.

We have now populated the toolkit website and we are proud to share it with you. Bear in mind that we have just launched this service, so do get in touch should you experience any hiccups.

What can I do with the RDM toolkit?

We have tried to make the toolkit very easy to use. When you reach the home page, you will find icons corresponding to three main audiences that lead to different ways to access content:

  • Researchers: by following this pathway, you will reach a page with RDM hot topics. These are presented in an intuitive format and allow immediate access to the information on the topic on a toolkit page.
  • Research support: built for RDM experts such as research managers, librarians, archivists, etc., this pathway will lead you to resources on RDM in an institutional context.
  • IT specialists: we recognise that IT specialists play a role in RDM but are only involved in some activities. Therefore, we prepared a page where they can find links to the resources that should be most relevant to them.

There is also a fourth option to navigate the website, which everyone can use: you can browse material by choosing the research data lifecycle page. This page allows you to reach toolkit pages arranged by lifecycle step, i.e. in consecutive order based on the Jisc research data lifecycle.

What will I find in the toolkit?

This is a great question, and the answer is (almost) everything! We tried to be as exhaustive as possible in terms of topic coverage and range of resources, so the toolkit includes:

  • Reports
  • Guides
  • Academic articles
  • Links to websites
  • Tools
  • …and more!

The content is split between in-text links, which you can find as footnotes, and further reading material, which is split by the three audiences above and presented in expandable menus. We prioritised recent and credible material with broad applicability: this was assessed by scoring all resources and by ranking them in a database of over a hundred RDM references.

We do, however, realise that we might have missed something – if we did, please get in touch using the form on the toolkit website and let us know!

The toolkit text has been prepared by us at Research Consulting and then reviewed by the Jisc steering group and a range of 15 RDM experts. We are confident that you will find it interesting and easy to read, but we are happy to hear your feedback should you think a toolkit page could be improved.

Thinking ahead…

The toolkit is built on a customised WordPress template, for maximum ease of use for editors. This follows from the fact that the most critical aspect of this RDM toolkit will be keeping it up to date – we are, indeed, crossing a finish line, but work on the toolkit cannot cease.

Jisc and Research Consulting are going to continue to work together on this. We are now in the process of appointing an RDM toolkit working group to periodically review recommended changes and possible new resources to add. We expect the group to meet on a quarterly basis using teleconferencing software and, once a year, in London for an in-person meeting. At the end of our first year we will review engagement with the toolkit to ensure it is still fit for purpose and satisfies the needs of the RDM community.

If you think you are a good candidate for the working group, please get in touch and we will be happy to consider your involvement.