Category Archives: Programme deliverables

Jisc MRD programme 2011-13: Outputs and Approaches

I mentioned in my last post that “[i]t’s a real challenge trying to communicate the mass and the variety of the activities that the JiscMRD projects are tackling…”. I don’t apologise for the understatement of that sentence, but I do apologise for the length of time it has taken me to get a round-up of the outputs and approaches of the second MRD programme onto some sort of public platform. In my defence, I can only say that things happened, people left, I’ve been working on other things for the Digital Curation Centre (including this) and in a few cases, it took a bit of time for some of the project outputs to be made publicly available themselves.

However, I’ve been keen to provide a round-up of who made what and where it is, so with immense thanks to all the projects, to Simon Hodson for his leadership of the programme and to my fellow EGs Jonny Tedds and Meik Poschen for being all-round good eggs – and before the delay gets any more embarrassing – here is a list of MRD02 outputs and approaches. As usual, please let me know of any corrections or updates: laura.molloy AT

Jisc MRD programme: Outputs and Approaches


Summary of outputs from the core MRD projects looking at institutional RDM support and RDM tools.

There were three projects for which the principal focus was the development of tools to assist research data management and in particular ingest and the management of metadata: C4D (Cerif 4 Datasets), PIMMS and SWORD-ARM.

Five projects, building on previous work, had as their principal objective and output the development of a pilot research data support service: these were Bristol data.bris, Open Exeter, Oxford Damaro, Manchester MiSS and Southampton DataPool.

Although this objective was shared by the other projects in the programme, the fact that they were building on less initial work means that the establishment of the ongoing service was less comprehensive.  In some cases the case for an ongoing service is still being made, but the project has at least established permanent resources; in most cases the project achieved the adoption of a research data management policy and raised RDM on the agenda for the institution.

There is evidence of some form on ongoing service at Bath, Essex, Herts, Lincoln, Leeds, Nottingham and UWE.  At Newcastle and the four participating institutions of Kaptur (Glasgow School of Art, University for the Creative Arts, University of the Arts London, Goldsmiths) the status of ongoing support is uncertain.

For an overview of many aspects of the development of institutional infrastructure by the programme (and elsewhere) see Pryor, Jones and Whyte (2013), Delivering Research Data Management Services (Facet), particularly Chapters 1-5; Chapter 7 on Southampton and Chapter 10 on the MRD Programme.

Experience gained from the programme evidence-gathering activity is also described in Whyte, Molloy, Beagrie and Houghton (2014), ‘What to measure? Towards metrics for research data management’, in Ray, Joyce M. (ed.) Research Data Management: Practical Strategies for Information Professionals (Charleston Insights Series).


Bristol, Exeter, Oxford, Manchester and Southampton

Bristol, Data.Bris

Contacts: Simon Price <simon.price AT> and Stephen Gray <Stephen.Gray AT>

Project Pages:

Note that the data.bris blog is still active:

Outputs Page:

Final Report:

The data.bris project transitioned very effectively from a project to a pilot University of Bristol service.

Ongoing RDM Service:

Launch of Service:

Monitoring Impact on Grant Applications:

RDM Guidance Pages:


RDM Introduction:

RDM Planning, including funder specific guides:

RDM Training: and in particular the ‘BootCamp’

NB: Bristol’s RDM service includes a page linking to other MRD training outputs:

Data.Bris Repository:

See Data.Bris Architecture:

University of Bristol RDM Principles:

Case Studies:

Professor Kate Robson Brown, Department of Archaeology and Anthropology:

Dr Dave Platt, Heilbronn Research Fellow, School of Mathematics:

Dr Richard Sessions, Senior Research Fellow, School of Biochemistry:

Data.Bris Benefits Report:


Exeter, Open Exeter

Contacts: Jill Evans <jill.evans AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Final Report: to be posted

Outputs Page:

New Blog for Ongoing RDM Support ‘Open Research Exeter’:

Open Access and Data Curation Team:

Exeter RDM Guidance Pages:

Summary of Outputs

Our Story

Take a look at the Storify which illustrates the Open Exeter project journey.

UoE RDM Policies

Open Exeter developed two policies on research data management for the University which have now been approved:

Open Access Research and Research Data Management Policy for Researchers

Open Access Research and Research Data Management Policy for Postgraduate Research Student

RDM Guidance for Researchers and PGRs 

PGR Survival Guide and Checklist: The project’s PGRs helped to create a Survival Guide and Checklist on research data management. The guide highlights important areas of research data management that new PGR students need to think about and provides links to useful websites.

Cloud Storage Guidance: Cloud Storage solutions such as Dropbox, Skydrive and Googledrive are useful for storing your research data and synching across devices. However, they should be used with caution, especially if you have sensitive or personal data.

Case Studies

The project produced various case studies:

1. Developing Research Data Management Policy at Research Group Level: A Case Study with the Marine Renewable Energy Group.

2. Electronic versus paper record keeping in scientific research: a case study for the Open Exeter project.

3. My Journey into Research….Beginnings: Issues Involved in Working with Human Subjects to Capture and Document Emotional Responses.

4. PhD Research and Copyright: A Personal Experience.

5. The Cricket-Tracking Project: a case study.

Training Materials

The Open Exeter team created training materials including courses which form part of the Researcher Development Programme

See also materials under Exeter Embeds.

RDM Guidance:

RDM Training:

RDM Policy Development:

Benefits of Good RDM:


Manchester, MiSS

Contacts: Mary Mcderby <Mary.Mcderby AT>, Lorraine Beard <lorraine.beard AT>

Project Pages:

Project Outputs:

The principal objective of the project was the development and implementation of a full-blown RDM service at Manchester, detailed below.

RDM Policy for University of Manchester: and as linked from MiSS

University of Manchester RDM Service: and as linked from MiSS

University of Manchester DMP Tool:

Guidance on Writing a Data Management Plan:

Research Data Storage Service:

RDM Service Implementation Timetables:


Oxford, DaMaRO

Contacts: James Wilson <james.wilson AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Like Manchester, the principle objective of the project was the transition into a full RDM support service.

Research Data Oxford:

Research Data Oxford Blog:

Oxford Tools for RDM:

DaMaRO Outputs:

RDM Induction Resources:

RDM Training Materials:

Digital Services to Support Research:

University of Oxford ‘Policy on the Management of Data and Records’:

DataFinder and DataBank Software:

DataFinder software

DataFinder provides a catalogue of metadata relating to research data outputs held in definable locations. It was developed to provide the University of Oxford with a mechanism by which it could track the research data produced by its researchers. A user interface enables researchers to search and browse for datasets already recorded in DataFinder or to contribute (or edit) metadata records. DataFinder uses OAI-PMH harvesting to automatically discover records of data held in data repositories.

The DataFinder source code and technical documentation are available from

DataReporter software

DataReporter is a semi-independent tool providing administrative information about data catalogued in an instance of DataFinder. Due to the departure of one of our developers before the end of the project this is still incomplete, but shall be endeavouring to get it to a usable level before the end of 2013.

The (incomplete) source code and documentation are available from,, and

DataBank software

Although the Damaro Project was not directly involved in developing DataBank, the data repository software that the University intends to use for its long-term data archive in the future, the close relationship between DataFinder and DataBank, including shared user interfaces and schemas, means that it is useful to list it here as an ‘indirect’ output.

Source code and documentation available from

Research Data Management Training for Science Researchers Survey

This survey helped us understand scientist’s perceived gaps in RDM expertise.

Survey results:

Associated blog post:

University of Oxford Research Data Management Survey 2012

This wide-ranging survey was conducted to help us understand RDM practices and attitudes across all four academic divisions at Oxford. It is intended to form the first installment of a longitudinal study to track changes in uptake and measure the impact of Damaro and other projects over coming years.

Survey results:

Associated blog post:

Research Data Management Training for Support Staff: a DaMaRO Project Survey

This survey was undertaken in conjunction with the University of Southampton to assess RDM training requirements of support staff:

Associated blog post:

Business Case

Research Data Management Infrastructure – A Case for Investment

Presentation to Oxford’s Research Information Management Sub-Committee (RIMSC) requesting support for the resources required by the Damaro business plans.

Damaro Business Cases

A set of five brief business cases covering: DataFinder; DataBank; Training and Support; RDM Coordination; and the Online Research Database Service (ORDS) developed by the Damaro Project to make the case for future institutional funding.

These are not yet publicly available except in the summary provided at the end of the Case for Investment.

Project Proposal

Project Plan



Survey results




Southampton, DataPool

Contacts: Wendy White <whw AT>; also ResearchData AT

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Outputs Page:

Key achievement, like Exeter, Oxford, Manchester and Bristol was a functioning, pilot RDM Support Service with allocated liaison staff:

See also Mark L. Brown and Wendy White, ‘Case study 2: University of Southampton – a partnership approach to research data management’ in Pryor et al. (2013), Delivering research data management services: fundamentals of good practice (Facet).

DataPool Outputs


University of Southampton Research Data Management Policy

Guidance and support

Research Data Management web pages

Scott, Mark, Boardman, Richard P., Reed, Philippa A.S. and Cox, Simon J. (2012) Introducing research data. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 29pp.


Beale, Gareth and Pagi, Hembo (2013) Datapool Imaging Case Study: Final Report. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 30pp

Byatt, Dorothy and White, Wendy (2013) Research data management planning, guidance and support: a DataPool Project report. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 16pp

Byatt, Dorothy, De Luca, Federico, Gibbs, Harry, Patrick, Meriel, Rumsey, Sally and White, Wendy (2013) Supporting researchers with their research data management: Professional service training requirements – a DataPool project report.Southampton, GB, University of Southampton

Byatt, Dorothy, Scott, Mark, Beale, Gareth, Cox, Simon J. and White, Wendy (2013) Developing researcher skills in research data management: training for the future – a DataPool project report. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 15pp

Hitchcock, Steve and White, Wendy (2013) Towards research data cataloguing at Southampton using Microsoft SharePoint and EPrints: a progress report. University of Southampton

Hitchcock, Steve (2013) Collecting and archiving tweets: a DataPool case study. Southampton, GB, University of Southampton, 10pp.

White, Wendy and Brown, Mark (2013) DataPool: Engaging with our Research Data Management Policy. University of Southampton, 6pp.

White, Wendy, Byatt, Dorothy and Hitchcock, Steve (2013) DataPool: final report. University of Southampton

Wisniowski, Arkadiusz, Chivers, Martin and Whitton, Michael (2013)Integrated Modelling of European Migration Database Case Study. University of Southampton, 8pp.

Technical outputs

Data Cite DOI Registration plugin (with documentation)

Arkivum A-Stor Storage Backend plugin (with user documentation) (Updated Version released 28/06/2013; documentation)

Integrated Modelling of European Migration (IMEM) Database

EPrints data deposit implemented in Soton Service using the ReCollect plugin, developed by Research Data @Essex JISC MRD project


Byatt, Dorothy (2013) Mapping Training needs for the support team [blog]

Hitchcock, Steve (2013) Cost benefit analysis experience of Southampton research data producers [blog]


Beale, Gareth, Hitchcock, Steve, Pagi, Hembo and Boardman, Richard P. (2013) Supporting data management for 3D and raster data: lessons learned from the DataPool project. Presented at Society for Imaging Science and Technology Archiving, April 2-5 2013, Washington D.C Archiving, 9

Scott, Mark, Boardman, Richard, Reed, Philippa and Cox, Simon J (2013) Research Data Management Education for Future Curators. International Journal of Digital Curation 8(1)


Beale, Gareth (2012) DataPool 3D: surveying institutional data practice,Creative DigiFest, Oct 11 2012, Southampton

Beale, Gareth (2013) Imaging work looking at multi-disciplinary requirements and use of equipment, Jisc Managing Research Data Programme Workshop: Achievements, Challenges and Recommendations, Aston Business School, 25-26 March 2013

Byatt, Dorothy (2012) JISC DataPool Building capacity, developing skills, supporting researchers. Presentation at Demystifying Research Data: don’t be scared be prepared: A joint JIBS/RLUK event, Tuesday 17th July, Brunei Gallery at SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies), London.

Coles, Simon, Milsted, Andrew and White, Wendy (2013) Implementing DOIs for Data: DataPool supporting institutional service development. In,Jisc Managing Research Data Programme Workshop, Achievements, Challenges and Recommendations, Birmingham, GB

Earl, Graeme (2012) JISC DataPool, Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology, 26-19 March 2012, Southampton

Earl, Graeme, Beale, Gareth, Pagi, Hembo, White, Wendy(paper) JISC DataPool: The relationship between institutional and discipline based repositories, World Archaeological Congress, Jan 13-18 2013, Jordan

Hitchcock, Steve (2012) To architect or engineer? Lessons from DataPool on building RDM repositories, RDMF9, Nov 14-15 2012, Cambridge

Scott, Mark, Boardman, Richard, Reed, Philippa,Cox, Simon J. (2013) Research Data Management Education for Future Curators, 14-16 Jan 8th International Digital Curation Conference, Amsterdam

White, Wendy, Byatt, Dorothy (2012), Research Data Guidance: turning policy into practice, JISC MRD Programme Meeting, Oct 24-25 2012, Nottingham


Byatt, Dorothy, Beale, Gareth, Hitchcock, Steve, Pagi, Hembo, Scott, Mark, Cox, Simon J., Earl, Graeme and White, Wendy (2013) Working collaboratively with PhD and early career researchers: agents for change. At8th International Digital Curation Conference “Infrastructure, Intelligence, Innovation: Driving the Data Science Agenda“, Amsterdam, NL, 14 – 16 Jan 2013. 1pp

Byatt, Dorothy, Hancock, Peter, Hitchcock, Steve and White, Wendy (2011) DataPool: building capacity, developing skills, supporting researchers. At 7thInternational Digital Curation Conference “Public? Private? Personal? Navigating the Open Data Landscape“, Bristol, GB, 05 Dec 2011 – 07 Dec 2013. 1pp

Hitchcock, Steve, Byatt, Dorothy, White, Wendy (2012), DataPool: building capacity, developing skills, supporting researchers, JISC MRD Programme Meeting, Oct 24-25 2012, Nottingham

Purpose and work of the project

Original DataPool Project proposal, accepted by JISC Nov 2011


Bath, Essex, Herts, Kaptur, Lincoln, Leeds, Newcastle, Nottingham, UWE

Bath, Research 360

Contacts: Catherine Pink <>

Project Pages:

Outputs Page: see also deliverable list in Final Report (a significant number of deliverables were for internal consumption only).

Requirements Report

Report: to be made available.

BOS Template: to be made available.

EPSRC Roadmap

University of Bath EPSRC Roadmap:

‘University of Bath Roadmap for EPSRC : Compliance with Research Data Management Expectations’:

RDM Policy Development

Policy Development at University of Bath: report to be made available.

Policy in consideration in governance round.

Faculty-Industry RDM Case Studies for Policy Development: report to be made available.

RDM Guidance Pages

University of Bath RDM Guidance Pages:

RDM Training

University of Bath Strorage Guidelines:

‘Advice on storing University of Bath information in the cloud’:

Managing Your Research Data ‘PG skills’ training workshop:

Business Case

Main business case, confidential, but see:

Closing workshop poster: sustainability of project outputs: and

Stakeholder Benefits Analysis, ‘Benefits from Research Data Management in Universities for Industry and Not-for-Profit Research Partners’:

Benefits of RDM for REF 2014:

Report, Research Data Management and REF2014:

Data Management Planning

Note that this was a particular focus for R360 and their work was widely reused in the programme and elsewhere.


University of Bath Data Management Planning Guidance:

University of Bath Data Management Plan Template:

Writing your data management plan : University of Bath DMP template guidance:

DMP Guidance for Post-Grads

Updated postgraduate data management planning guidance:

DMP for Postgrads:

DMP Guidance for Postgrads:

DMP Guidelines for Doctoral Training Centre

To be made available.

RDM Platform

Project suffered challenges with SWORD-Sakai Integration, Sakai Development.  Reports to be made available.

Eprints integration with Hitachi Content Platform.  Report to be published.

Pilot institutional data repository.


Essex, Research Data@Essex

Contact: Veerle Van Den Eynden <>

Project Overview:

Project Outputs:

Project Blog:

Final Report:

Summary of Project Outputs

Essex Research Data repository and ReCollect app

We developed a pilot institutional research data repository, Essex Research Data, for the University of Essex, built on EPrints repository software.

Extensive in-house customisation was done to make the EPrints software – initially developed for hosting research publications – more suitable for storing and presenting research data:

In collaboration with the EPrints team at Southampton we also developed the data repository app ‘ReCollect’ for the EPrints bazaar. This app allows institutions to set up their own EPrints-based data repository with expanded metadata profile for describing research data and a redesigned data catalogue for presenting complex collections.

The repository development and ingest report describes the development rationale, the metadata profile, the ingest testing with sample data and the consultation with Essex researchers and external specialists.

Research data management policy for the University of Essex

The University of Essex Data Management Policy and route map for compliance with the EPSRC Policy Framework were developed as part of this project and published in March 2013.

A University of Essex sustainability plan for data management infrastructure was developed by the project steering group, based on the project findings and expertise gained.

Research data management support and training

Data management planning guidance has been published on the website of the University of Essex Research and Enterprise Office.

A regular programme of Research Data Management workshops takes place for University of Essex researchers as part of the University of Essex Learning and Development programme.

A staff survey was held at the University of Essex during February 2012 to examine current practices and needs at the University of Essex with regards to data management planning, data sharing and a  data repository. The report, summary results and questionnaire describe the findings of this survey, to which 13 percent of research staff responded.

Working with research hubs

A data inventory was carried out within four pilot departments to assess researchers’ data management practices, needs and expectations.

We developed a Data Inventory Form, derived from an earlier data management practices assessment carried out with research centres as part of the Archive’s DMP-ESRC project in 2011, and also based on the Data Asset Framework methodology.

The report Research Data Management at the University of Essex describes the findings of this assessment.

The four pilot departments are:

  • Biological Sciences (proteomics and bio-imaging data)
  • Essex Business School (management data)
  • Language and Linguistics (second language acquisition and socio-linguistics data)
  • Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (artificial intelligence data)

Events and presentations

25 – 26 March 2013, JISC Managing Rearch Data Programme Workshop: achievements, challenges and recommendations, Aston Business School

Research Data @Essex final poster

Research Data @Essex presentation

14-17 January 2013, Research Data @Essex poster, 8th International Digital Curation Conference

24 October 2012, JISC Managing Research Data Programme meeting, Nottingham

Research Data @Essex poster

Data Management Planning presentation

Triage presentation

Repository presentation

Metadata presentation

13 July 2012, Opening up research data at Essex: experiments with EPrints, EPrints User Group, OR2012, Edinburgh

21 May 2012, Research Data @Essex presentation, DCC Roadshow, Imperial College, London

13 December 2011, Research Data @Essex presentation, Research Data Managers’ Forum, University of Essex

1 December 2011, Research Data @Essex poster, JISC Managing Research Data Programme launch


Herts, RDTK (Research Data Toolkit)

Contact: William J Worthington <w.j.worthington AT>

Project Pages:

Draft Final Report: and

Post Project Roundup:

Herts RDM Guidance Pages: this was the major output and comprises very comprehensive guidance pages.

Research Data Assets Survey:

Survey Results: and and

Summary of Herts RDM Policy:

RDM Case Studies:

See Final Report Deliverables list for numerous discussions of RDM challenges.

Use of Hybrid Cloud Services:

Review of cloud storage services: features, costs, issues for HE:

Files in the cloud:

Files transfer rate tests:

Analysis of barriers to use of local networked storage:

Hybrid-Cloud model: when the cloud works and the attraction of Dropbox et al.:

Hybrid-Cloud example: Zendto on Rackspace, integrated with local systems:

UH file exchange:


Cost of ad-hoc storage:

Cost of data loss event:

Storage Allocation Workflow

Request ‘Research Storage’ Form:

Research Grant and Storage Process:

Request ‘Research Storage’ Workflow:

Data Licenses:

Comparison of data licenses, blog:

Comparison of data licenses, report:



Contact: Leigh Garrett <lgarrett AT>

Project Website:

Outputs Page:

Final Report:

Requirements Analysis:

Environmental Assessment report and methodology available here:

Policy Development

Research Data Management Discussion paper:

Research data management policies for four partner institutions: Available from:

University of the Arts London:

Goldsmiths University:

University for the Creative Arts: and

Glasgow School of Art:


Training Plan:

Training Workshops:

Training Materials

Xerte Toolkit for Researchers:

Xerte Toolkit DMPs:

Xerte Toolkit for Visual Arts Data Managers:

Technical Support

Technical Analysis report:

Demonstrator Systems:




IT Costs Model:

(N.B. report includes link to the spreadsheet which is available on VADS site)

Business Plan Template:

Institutional and Technical Case Studies:


Glasgow School of Art:



Technical Case Study:

End of Project Conference:


Leeds, Roadmap

Contact: Rachel Proudfoot <R.E.Proudfoot AT>

Project Website:

Project Blog (ongoing):

Ongoing Research Data Activity Home:

Project Documentation

The RoaDMaP project bid (PDF download) – bid as submitted to JISC in July 2011

RoaDMaP Project Plan (PDF download) – March 2012

RoaDMaP Work Packages (PDF download) – March 2012

RoaDMaP Project Information Sheet and Consent Form (Word doc) – June 2012 – required as part of gaining ethical clearance for RoaDMaP at the University

RoaDMaP Benefits Report (draft)- July 2013

RoaDMaP Final Report (draft) – July 2013

Project outputs

University RDM policy

▪     University of Leeds Research Data Management Policy (July 2012)

▪     University of Leeds Research Data Management Policy Background – link to drafts and feedback

▪     Research data website – information to support the RDM Policy and good RDM practice.

Requirements analysis

▪     Research Data Survey Report (Excel)

▪     Research Data Survey questions

▪     Questions for a semi-structured interview with RoaDMaP case study projects

RDM Case Studies

  1. Timescapes Case Study Report (Sociology). 
Timescapes blog posts by Professor Bren Neale – Timescapes: Archiving and sharing Qualitative Longitudinal data ; Timescapes: Archiving and sharing Qualitative Longitudinal data – Part 2 (response to Simon Hodson)
  2. Music Case Study Report (music of Trevor Jones)
  3. Engineering Case Study Report (SpineFx)

Data management planning

▪     Data Management Planning Report

▪     DMPOnline plan formatting (blog post)

▪     DMPOnline developments (blog post)

Software systems and metadata

▪     Research data repository functional requirements (working draft)

Virtualised storage

▪     Test objectives for virtualised storage

▪     Virtualised storage report

Training / people

▪     Pilot training with Engineers – presentation, handbook and feedback

▪     Pilot training with Social Scientists – presentation, handbook and feedback

▪     Training with Research Support Staff – presentations and feedback

▪     Training with Pre-award Support Staff – presentations and feedback

▪     Perspectives on Research Data Management- 24th May 2012 – presentations and blog posts

▪     Training Working Group Aims and Membership

▪     List of the main training and awareness activities undertaken by RoaDMaP.

Interim Funding (Aug 2013- July 2014)

▪     Paper to senior University management to secure post-project funding for further service development


Lincoln, Orbital

Contacts: Joss Winn <jwinn AT>, Paul Stainthorpe <pstainthorp AT>

Project Website:

Outputs Page:

Final Report:

Requirements Analysis: An initial requirements analysis was created. The project team met with researchers in the School of Engineer every two weeks throughout much of the project. Two early Case Studies were written:

Implementation Plan: An Implementation Plan for the technical infrastructure was produced. This included a Technical Specification, Literature Review, Data Assets Framework survey results, and a draft RDM Policy.

Development and implementation of a pilot OAIS technical infrastructure for research data: A discussion of Orbital and the OAIS reference model was posted to the website:

Documented open source licensed code for Orbital Bridge ‘Researcher Dashboard’ Application: [current]

Orbital Researcher Dashboard: ; see

Blog Posts on Development of Orbital Bridge Researcher Dashboard: Orbital Bridge See also Orbital deposit workflow Datacite workflow

The use of CKAN by Orbital was very influential and Orbital led on a CKAN for RDM workshop held in Feb 2013: See also: Hello CKAN Choosing CKAN for research data management

For trial and uptake of CKAN by MRD Projects see:

Paper, ‘Open Data and the Academy: An Evaluation of CKAN for Research Data Management’: and

Lincoln CKAN instance:

Lincoln ePrints, used for dataset metadata:

Guidance, Policies and Training

Researcher Guidance, Research Tools:

‘Policies Affecting Your Research’:

Guidance and Training Materials:

University of Lincoln Research Data Policy:

Business Plan for Further Development of Project Outputs:


Newcastle, Iridium

Contact: Janet Wheeler <janet.wheeler AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Outputs Page:

Final Report:

Newcastle RDM Guidance Site:

RDM support materials

iridium external RDM support/training materials review (External support review (xls))

iridium stakeholders HFI mapping

iridium research data management plan template and guidance

iridium Newcastle context DMPonline (v3) guidance

iridium research data management support website

RDM tools development

iridium research data catalogue specification

iridium research data catalogue user testing

iridium e-Science Central SWORD specification

iridium SWORD endpoint within e-Science Central (Sourceforge) Test Data

iridium CKAN case study

iridium CKAN Java Client code base (Github)

iridium DMPonline (v3) external tool evaluation

iridium external RDM tools assessment

Policy development

iridium DRAFT policy principles and code of good practice (archived 10 December 2012) (see institutional RES policy page for most recent version)

Requirements gathering

iridium online survey report v2.2 (summary)

iridium online survey report v2.1

iridium interview thematic analysis (summary) v1

iridium interview thematic analysis v1

iridium RDM requirements interview questions (example main questions)

Online survey PDF form (v7d)


Nottingham, Admire

Contact: Tom Parsons <Thomas.Parsons AT> and Bill Hubbard <Bill.Hubbard AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Outputs Page:

Final Report: to be posted.

University of Nottingham RDM Guidance Site:

Project Management and planning

ADMIRe Project Plan Public May 2013

ADMIRe – Nottingham Project Office Plan and Scope 2012-13

Evaluation and Benefits

ADMIRe Benefits Management Plan

JISC ADMIRe Benefits and Metrics Report

RDM Policies

The University of Nottingham Research Data Management Policy

ADMIRe RDM Policy Requirements Review

Research Data Repositories Strategy

ADMIRe RDM Repository Strategy Requirements

RDM Human Infrastructure and Support Service

Research Data Management website

RDM Human Infrastructure and Skills

RDM Training Paper

RDM roles and skills

RDM Business Case Documents

ADMIRe RDM Business Case Steering Group Slide Pack

ADMIRE Supporting Research Data Management at the University of Nottingham Discussion Paper

RDM Technical Infrastructure

  1. ADMIRe RDM Technical Requirements Report
  2. ADMIRe RDM Requirements Catalogue
  3. RDM Use Case Focus Groups Format
  4. Faculty based research data management use cases:
  1. ADMIRe Research Data Management Metadata Schema
  2. ADMIRe RDM Process Model and Use Case Analysis
  3. ADMIRe DMP Online Analysis
  4. ADMIRe EQUELLA Research Data Repository Pilot
  5. ADMIRe BPM Metastorm Data Catalogue Development

RDM Pilots

  1. Pilot identification – ADMIRe The University of Nottingham Pilots
  2. Faculty of Arts – ADMIRe Faculty of Arts Data Licences Pilot
  3. Faculty of Engineering – ADMIRe Faculty of Engineering Storage Pilot
  4. Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences – ADMIRe Faculty of MHS DAF Pilot
  5. Faculty of Science – ADMIRe Faculty of Sciences Metadata Pilot
  6. Faculty of Social Sciences RDM Training Pilot – ADMIRe Graduate School MANTRA Pilot

Communications plans and promotional material

  1. Nottingham RDM Communications Plan March 2013 (post-ADMIRe)
  2. Nottingham RDM Flyer (web format)
  3. Nottingham RDM Postcard – Print Ready
  4. Nottingham RDM Pull Up Banner

End of project report

ADMIRe JISC end of project report

Conference Papers

Creating a Research Data Management Service –  IDCC 2013, Dr Thomas Parsons, University of Nottingham


UWE, MRD Pilot

Contacts: Jennifer Crossley <Jennifer.Crossley AT>; Liz Holliday <liz.holliday AT> (Stella Fowler and Judith Stewart have moved on).

Project Pages:

Outputs Page:

This project was funded at less than half of the Jisc contribution of others in the programme.  As a result of great enthusiasm and hard work, the team punched considerably above its weight in terms of outputs and programme engagement.

Final Report:

Final Report Executive Summary:

University Library RDM Pages: and

WP1 & 2 Case Study on Understanding UWE Requirements:

UWE RDM administrative infrastructure:

EPrints Requirements:

Guidance and Training Needs:

Target Operating Model:

WP3: Developing a Service

Metadata Development and ePrints Customisation:

Draft Institutional RDM Policy Principles:

WP4: Developing Online Guidance

Guidance and Training Needs:

Guidance and Training Structure:

UWE Online Guidance:

Raising your ReDMan: Approaches to Research Data Management Conference:

Reskilling for Research Data Management: A Workshop for Academic Librarians:




C4D (Cerif for Datasets)

Contacts: Valerie McCutcheon <valerie.mccutcheon AT>, Anna Clements <akc AT> and Kevin Ginty <gintyk AT>

Project Pages:

Deliverables Page:

The first part of this project (WPs 2-4) looked at how Cerif could be adapted to accommodate information about datasets.  The second part (WP5), sought to implement this and other aspects of RDM at Glasgow and St. Andrews.

RDM at Glasgow (also Incremental Project), includes draft RDM Policy:

RDM at St Andrews (DCC institutional Engagement): and

Final Report:

WP2: Metadata Process Definition:

D2.1_Metadata_Ontology Final:

D2.2_Taxonomy_Definition Final:

WP3: Repository Interface Definition

D3.1_Ontology_Upload_Requirements Final:


WP4: Extension of Existing Platforms

D4.1 Interim C4D system –

D4.2 Final C4D system –

WP5: Deployment Planning and Costing

D5.3_Institutional_Research_Data_Management_Policy_Proposals Final:

D5.4_Guidance_notes_for_researchers Final:


Workshop Reports:


Reading, PIMMS (Portable Infrastructure for the Metafor Metadata System)

Contacts: Charlotte Pascoe <charlotte.pascoe AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

Final Report: to be posted.

Key output was the functioning PIMMS metadata manager for climate science

PIMMS on Github:

PIMMS as centralised web service:

Presentation at European Geophysical Union Conference:


York, Sword-Arm

Contacts: Julian Richards <julian.richards AT> and Catherine Hardman <catherine.hardman AT>

Project Pages:

Project Blog:

The principal output of this project was development, rollout and cost-benefits work around the ADS Easy Archive System

Outputs Page: to be created.

Final Report: to be posted.


We have created an online system for the upload of small to medium sized archaeological archives. It can be seen at:

Blog posts   

Blog post have been written at important stages of the project, they can be seen at


Moore, R; C Hardman; J Richards and L Xia forthcoming ‘ADS easy: an automated e-archiving system for Archaeology’. In CAA 2012: Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA), Southampton, England. G Earl, et. al (eds.). Amsterdam University Press (forthcoming)

Conference attendance

Members of the SWORD-ARM project were amongst ADS staff who attended the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) annual conference at the Aston Conference Centre in Birmingham in April. We had the opportunity to display our new poster on the ADS stand and talk to many of the delegates about the plans to roll out the ADS-easy system to the community in June 2013. We were also able to incorporate information about the system, and how it will work, in to a specific IfA training workshop on digital archiving. Initial feedback from those at the training workshop was really positive; but interestingly the attendees quickly identified that the requirement for archiving should ideally be enforced through either the planning brief or museum deposition requirements.

SWORD-ARM presentation from the MRD meeting in Nottingham October 2012:

A SWORD-ARM presentation about Benefits and Evidence from the project given at a JISC workshop in Bristol November 2012:


Please let me have any updates or corrections by email to laura.molloy AT, particularly if your project has outputs listed here as ‘to be made available’, which are now available.  Thanks!

Achievements, Challenges, Recommendations workshop: RDM support & guidance (1B)

Here at the JiscMRD Achievements, Challenges and Recommendations workshop, Joy Davidson (HATII and the DCC) chaired session 1B on research data management support and guidance.  Jez Cope (Research360 at Bath), Rachel Proudfoot (RoaDMaP at Leeds), Hannah Lloyd-Jones of Open Exeter and Anne Spalding (stepping into Leigh Garrett’s shoes for the KAPTUR project at UCA) all shared their experiences of developing tailored advice and guidance for their host institutions and / or target disciplines.

Jez described very clearly how the Research360 project went about the formulation and production of their resource, finding very similar challenges and solutions to those noted by e.g. the Incremental project in MRD01, including the usefulness of some fundamental but often overlooked details such as placing the resource as high in the university website architecture as possible (theirs is at which helps to ensure the resource is not seen as partisan to one discipline or service over others; and listing in website A-Z directories under something meaningful and findable to users (in their case ‘R’ for ‘research’ and ‘D’ for ‘data’ as opposed to their project acronym).

Usability also extends into the layout on the homepage, where content can be accessed via a menu of RDM topics (for those with a bit of RDM knowledge) or by project phase for those with less RDM knowledge.

Jez noted that much of his role has been to work as a translator between technical and non-technical people.  Rachel Proudfoot is also bringing together different staff groups: RoaDMaP work draws on a working group containing key contacts from varied services and areas of the university including the university training service, IT services, the library and faculties.  Rachel’s experience is that this approach not only provides an essential mix of expertise to inform your outputs, but also gives you access to new channels for administration and promotion of training events and awareness-raising efforts.  Rachel was pragmatic about re-purposing existing training resources already created at Leeds, e.g. made for one discipline and re-used for another.  Whilst Jez was clear that getting material from other people at the institution always takes longer than even the most generous estimate, in Rachel’s experience reusing one’s own materials can be tricky too.

The Open Exeter project has been remarkable for their use of a group of PGR students from varied disciplines as active participants in project work where, for a fee (and an iPad!) they have functioned as the face of the project at university events and across their peer group.  The group members have also supplied responses and feedback to various project outputs and so helped to make sure guidance and events are relevant and meaningful to this group of researchers, and produced a ‘survival guide’ for distribution at induction which helps to make the case for RDM to newly-arrived PGRs.  In this way, they have made the work of the project a lot more visible through peer-to-peer and student-to-supervisor (!) education about RDM at Exeter.  They also contributed better understanding of the needs of active researchers in a way that was more practical in terms of time and cost than trying to work with more senior researchers. The students in turn have new knowledge of and skills in RDM, have received specialised help from the university and external experts and have a new element to add to their academic CV. This fruitful relationship has contributed much to Open Exeter’s online guidance resources: due to the varied disciplines represented by the PGRs, their case studies and other contributions are truly central to the webpage at

Another fruitful relationship was described by Anne Spalding in the last presentation in the session, a description of the KAPTUR project.  KAPTUR has a fairly unusual challenge of involving four creative arts-focused academic institutions on a common quest to understand and manage research data in the visual arts.  Anne noted that this is a discipline-area with particular challenges around the definition of what constitutes research data – an ongoing area of work for the project.  She also noted that project work, as with other projects such as Open Exeter’s DAF survey, was built upon the findings of surveys of researchers to understand current data-related practice.  As with the other projects of this group, a range of areas of the institution were involved; in this case libraries, training services and others were asked to feed into policy formation and UCA had their data policy passed by senior management in February 2013.  Anne was clear that this policy will operate as a framework for further RDM infrastructure development work.

When discussing areas for future work, Joy and Rachel both agreed on the need for us to now consider how we extend capacity for RDM training in the institution.  There are relatively few with the skills and the confidence to train others in RDM: we need to train more trainers and extend the network of expertise at the institution, particularly in cases where the Jisc MRD project is not assured of continuation funding from their host HEI.  A useful idea at Leeds was inviting the DCC to attend – not to provide a training session but to critique the session presented by the project: this is an effective way to instil confidence and skill in RDM training at the institution, and can be extended by thoughtful deployment of the openly-available training and guidance resources already produced by the MRD programme.

Here are some of my thoughts from this session:

– The more you can find out about your audience beforehand, the better tailored (= more meaningful = more effective) your training can be, so get those pre-event questionnaires out and completed!

– Re-use of existing resources is possible and can be successful but may still need some effort and time to do well.  So whilst it’s worth while using the expertise of others, and always looks good to demonstrate awareness of the relevant resources that already exist, don’t do it simply be a short cut or a time-saver.

– Training cohorts of new researchers is good and well but we now need to start planning to train more senior academics.  They are the ones that allow RAs, postdocs and students to go off to training (or not); they are providing training recommendations to the students they supervise; they are the ones sitting on funder selection boards and ethics panels.  They need to be up to date on RDM, at least in their own discipline areas, and to be aware of what they don’t know.

Laura Molloy
e: laura.molloy AT

Jisc Managing Research Data Programme Workshop: Achievements, Challenges and Recommendations, 25-26 March 2013, Aston Business School

The Jisc MRD Achievements, Challenges and Recommendations workshop is about recognising the achievements – both in scale and quality – of the projects of the second Jisc Managing Research Data programme (2011-13).  The programme’s large infrastructure projects will complete during spring – summer 2013 and so at this point we are starting to see real delivery from many of them.  At the same time, there is still space for sharing good practice and recommending approaches for meeting challenges as well as for areas which need additional work.

The event programme is available at, and we’ll be posting summaries of sessions and highlights here on the EG blog.

‘Institutional Policies, Strategies, Roadmaps’ session at JISC MRD and DCC IE workshop, Nottingham

The ‘Components of Institutional Research Data Services’ event on 24 October 2012 brought together the ongoing JISC MRD infrastructure projects as well as the institutions with which the Digital Curation Centre is running an ‘institutional engagement’.

The ‘Institutional policies, strategies, roadmaps’ session (session 1A) reflected this nicely, with two speakers from MRD projects ‘Admire’ and ‘Research360’, and two from DCC IEs, St Andrews and Edinburgh.

What is working?

Tom Parsons from Nottingham’s Admire project described further connections across this set of institutions, acknowledging the 2011 aspirational Edinburgh data policy (more on this later) as the inspiration for theirs at Nottingham, and underlining the importance of being aware of the requirements not only of major funders at your institution but also the institutional policies which exist: these need to be found, understood, and worked with to give a coherent message to researchers and support staff about RDM.  This can be done, as he noted, by reflecting these existing messages in your data policy but also by strengthening the data management aspects of these existing policies, and so making the most of any credibility they already have with university staff.

At Bath, RCUK funders are also important influences on progress.  Cathy Pink from Research360 has established that the biggest funder of research work at her institution is the EPSRC, and so Research360’s roadmap work to particularly respond to the EPSRC’s expectations is important at her university, and was published earlier this year.  Bath has looked to the Monash University work to guide its direction in policy formation, particularly to inform strategic planning for RDM and making a clear connection between work at the university to advance RDM and the university’s existing strategic aims: an intelligent way to garner senior management buy-in.

Cathy noted that the DAF and Cardio tools from DCC were both useful in ascertaining the existing situation at Bath: these measures are important to take both in order to identify priorities for action, and also in order to be able to demonstrate the improvements (dare I say impact?) brought about by your work in policy formulation and / or training and guidance provision.

To be taken seriously at the institution and to promote awareness and buy-in, Cathy urged institutions to incorporate feedback from a wide range of relevant parties at the university: research support office, the library, IT support and the training support office where available.  This promotes a coherent approach from all these stakeholders as well as a mutually well-informed position on what each of these areas can contribute to successful RDM.

Birgit Plietzch from St Andrews also found DAF and Cardio relevant to ascertain the current data management situation at her institution but felt the processes could be usefully merged.   Birgit’s team again started by finding out who was funding research at the university (400+ funders!) and then increasing their understanding of these funders’ RDM requirements to create a solid base for policy work.  Again, the Monash University work in this area was useful at her institution, and when the EPSRC roadmap work was completed, as with Bath, it helped to demonstrate the relevance of RDM to diverse areas of institutional activity.

Edinburgh’s Stewart Lewis, too, described the value of creating relationships not only with senior management champions for RDM but also between the university mission statement or strategic aims, and RDM policy.  Stewart acknowledged that the aspirational policy published by Edinburgh in 2011 is a useful way to both instigate and lead on improved RDM at the university, but that action is also crucial.  The aspirational mode of policy gives a stable, high-level statement which is then enacted through supporting, and more volatile, documents.  So whilst action is devolved from the top-level document, it is still intrinsically important if culture change is to happen.  To this end, they have created various levels of implementation groupings to carry through specific actions.  Infrastructure specified by their policy work includes a minimum storage amount and training provision.

In accordance with the Grindley Theory of Four Things (see the – fittingly – 4th bullet point of, Edinburgh is concentrating on four high level  areas: planning, infrastructure, stewardship and, lastly, support across these three.   These areas were chosen in order to meaningfully move forward the RDM work at Edinburgh whilst still making sense to the researcher population.

Challenges and lessons learned

Tom shared some findings gathered by Admire from their survey of the institution’s researcher population which shows around 230 projects are currently funded and so storage requirements are substantial.  Most of these projects are funded by RCUK funders, and so the expectations for a well-organised approach to RDM are also pretty substantial.  When c. 92% of researchers surveyed at the institution report having had no RDM training, we can understand the need for (and scale of) Admire’s work!

Cathy echoed Tom’s point: don’t attempt to simply lift one institution’s work and hope to apply it to yours.  The tailoring required is significant if a set of policies is going to work in your own context.

The first attempt at the RDM policy for Bath was rejected by the senior management group.  Inspirationally, Cathy recognised this as a great opportunity to refine their work and improve the policy using the feedback received.  It also helped clarify their ambitions for the policy and resolved the team to do better than ‘just good enough’: being tempered, of course, by the support infrastructure that could be realistically delivered by the institution – a similar situation as with Nottingham.

Cathy emphasised the point that good quality consultation across the institution is time-consuming but well worthwhile if you aim to build genuinely useful and effective policy or other resources.

Birgit also faced challenges in getting a wider acceptance of some promising RDM policy work.  The institutional environment, including a recent reshuffle of IT provision, had contributed problems to the smooth progress of their IE and senior management, once again, needed compelling evidence to understand the benefits of improved RDM for the institution.

Birgit also found that academics were overextended and found it difficult to make the time to participate in the research that her team needed to undertake to develop policy in this area, but when they realised the relevance they were keen to be involved in the process and to access RDM training.  The notion of the aspirational (as opposed to the highly-specified) mode of RDM policy is popular with researchers at her institution.

Next steps for Stewart and the team at Edinburgh include attaching costs, both in terms of person-time and financial, to the actions specified under their EPSRC roadmap, which will be published soon.  The team will also soon run focus groups using the DCC’s DMP Online tool, run a pilot of Datashare, establish what is needed by researchers in addition to storage, and run training for liaison librarians; these activities, however, need resources: the next challenge to meet.

Discussion picked up the balance between universities offering trustworthy storage appropriate for research data and the motivation of researchers to bid for these resources elsewhere: researchers bidding for this type of funding not only helps the university to concentrate resources in other useful areas but also helps to give a clear message to funders that if they want improved RDM, they have to be prepared to contribute financially towards it.

Costing was a popular topic: Graham Pryor (DCC) was interested that no speaker said they’ve attached costs.  Sometimes explicitly identifying costs means this work becomes unacceptable to senior management on financial grounds.  Paul Stainthorpe at Lincoln agreed that you can spend lots of time on policy, but it won’t be accepted unless there’s a business case.  Other institutions agreed, but added that senior management want some illustrative narrative in addition to the hard figures, to tell them why this really matters.

Birgit added that there is also the problem of unfunded research, particularly in the arts.  Her team has been receiving an increasing number of enquiries relating to this area, and it’s an area also being considered by Newcastle’s Iridium project, who have looked at research information management systems and discovered they only track funded work, leaving unfunded research as ‘a grey area’, even though it may be generating high impact publications.  At UAL, a partner in the KAPTUR project, lots of researchers do a lot of work outside the institution and not funded by it and so for the purposes of the project, they’re being explicit about managing funded work.

UAL has recently launched their RDM policy as a result of their KAPTUR work and stakeholders are happy with it in principle, but the challenge now is how to implement it: John Murtagh noted that engagement and understanding mean work must continue beyond the policy launch.  I mentioned the importance of training here as an element which has to be developed at the institution alongside policy and technical infrastructure.  This was agreed by Wendy White of Southampton: policy needs to be an ongoing dialogue and the challenge is to integrate these elements.

What could the MRD programme or the DCC do to help?

–          DCC: advise on whether funders are going to move the goalposts, and how realistic the risks are of this happening;

–          DCC: advise on what public funding can be used to support RDM policy work;

–          help with costing work

–          DCC: mediation between universities and the research councils, clarifying requirements and sharing universities’ experiences, etc.

–          DCC: providing briefings on current issues, e.g. PVC valued briefings re. open access.

Evidence Gathering: The Field Guide

Evidence?  Of what?

We have great lives as Evidence Gatherers – really, we do. Swanning around to meetings, reading interesting blogposts from MRD02 projects, being nosy about what the programme’s projects are doing and writing about stuff that engages us.  But there is a more serious side to the role.  The clue’s in the name, really: we’re here primarily to Gather Evidence.  But evidence of what, and why?

Well, like everyone else in the research sector, JISC is under considerable obligation to provide clear and compelling evidence of the value of its activities.  Everyone on an MRD02 project knows that what the programme’s projects are doing is going to really change things for the better in research data management – whether that’s at our institution, our discipline or more broadly across the sector – but how do we prove this?  We all know there’s less money going around to fund the sort of research we want to do in RDM, so how do we make the case in clear and irrefutable terms that our work brings benefits?  Real, measurable, trackable benefits?  Hence the decision to undertake a structured approach to gathering and presenting the evidence of the benefits of MRD projects.

Anyone from an MRD01 infrastructure project will remember the requirement for a benefits case study near the end of project activity.  (These were brought together in a handy summary document.)  But we couldn’t help thinking, ‘If only we’d been able to plan for writing this case study earlier.  Then we could’ve put some pre-activity benchmarks in place to show how great we were.’  So this time around, projects were introduced to the benefits work at the programme’s kick-off meeting, and then wrote a blog post early in the project to outline the benefits they were expecting to realise.

The Field Guide to our approach

One of the main things we’ve noticed when reading these blog posts is that there is often a bit of confusion around what constitutes an output; a benefit; and a piece of evidence.  For our purposes, here is the Field Guide to the MRD Evidence Gathering Approach:

  • An output is something that the project is going to make, produce, put in place or that it otherwise aims to deliver.  These will be specified in your project plan.
  • Benefits can be identified by asking, ‘What does this help us (the institution / researchers) to do better?’
  • Evidence consists of specific, clear metrics (quantitative measures) and specific, clear qualitative evidence such as narratives and short case studies, all of which support or prove the benefit.

So for the Evidence Gathering work, we need to establish a list of benefits for each project, and each benefit in turn needs to be supported by evidence.

An example:

  • Output: Production and approval of a data policy is an output (and a great one!  Go you!)
  • Benefits: How does this output help the institution / researchers to do RDM and/or research better?  Well, having this policy to refer to can contribute to i) easier compliance with funder policy, ii) improved availability of RDM infrastructure, and iii) improved ability of the institution to plan for future requirements.  These are three benefits.
  • Evidence: So appropriate evidence can be the tracking of quantitative measures, e.g. an increased number of references to the data policy within research proposals,  against an existing benchmark.  A case study with a researcher showing how the policy helped them with success in bidding would be inspiring and could show compliance with funder policy to good effect.  Evidence of increasing reference to the data policy, over time, along with an increased number of datasets held securely and in a context that makes them available for re-use would be compelling.  Interviews with key staff from planning office or research office (as appropriate) about use of RDM roadmap/policy, or a narrative detailing how the policy is being used to improve the institution’s RDM infrastructure could also be used.

Tailored solutions

At programme events, project staff will probably have noticed how diverse the programme is.  The types and sizes of institutions, the aims of projects and the approaches to RDM in all these circumstances make for interesting meetings and energetic debate.  However, it also means that we don’t propose a one-size-fits-all approach to the Evidence Gathering work, so much of our time is currently spent crafting a tailor-made list of sensible and appropriate pieces of evidence for each project. These are to be delivered in an Evidence Report along with Final Reports, but projects should also find the material very helpful when putting together their sustainability business cases.

The goal is to have clear, understandable and compelling evidence for each project which contributes to an evidence base for the programme as a whole.  This will show the difference made for the better – how we as a programme have improved matters, changed the game and moved RDM onwards in the UK HE sector.

Research data + research records management = research management?

Interesting meeting at Leicester this week with our Information Assurance Services. Andrew Burnham and myself have developed a roadmap to implement research data management policy as required for EPSRC and other funders and are currently leading the development of guidance and support for researchers in time for the new academic year. We are doing this in collaboration with colleagues in IT Services, the Academic Practice Unit, Library and Research Support Office on behalf of the Research Computing Management Group, chaired by our PVC Research & Enterprise Kevin Schurer, which feeds recommendations up to the University Research Committee. We are feeding in the many relevant external information and guidance resources as produced through the JISCMRD programme, UKDA, DCC and related.

I’ve lost some of you haven’t I?! To add to the confusion, there is also the university code of practice for researchers.

However, the question has arisen as to when and how we distinguish the university records management policy with this research data management policy? We are of course referring here to differences in language between different parts of central services in a university – never mind the disciplinary differences across the university academic community.

Information Assurance Services (IAS) currently have a records management policy tabled for university approval. It might be described as corporate based and is not immediately identified with research. And yet if sensitive data were to be lost in a researcher’s lab notes the matter would probably reach IAS before any other body in the university (they also handle FoI requests in the first instance). IAS identify the lab notes as “research records” not “research data” so is a “research records management policy” then required?

From a research data viewpoint we might think of research records as being about the process including funder specific and personal information about the researchers rather than the research itself. Indeed we made exactly this distinction when following up on an external research data audit to all research staff: “Do you use, reuse or generate sensitive (including commercial in confidence) research data?” Researchers tend to assume that departmental and university administrators will be looking after the “research records”.

So let’s clarify how IAS see it. They incorporate information compliance and security (including FoI and environmental concerns), risk management and business continuity. The question then arises: is there clear legal ownership of research data? Many researchers are somewhat surprised to find out their hard work is actually “owned” by their institution for these purposes. This becomes particularly relevant when researchers move institution, as of course they often do.

So I found myself wondering aloud: do we need a “research managment policy” which then refers to the “records management policy” guidance and the rather more prescriptive “research data management policy”?

Oxford digital infrastructure to support research workshop

The University of Oxford have impressively attempted to marshal the diverse projects ranging across disparate areas of expertise in research data management at the university. I attended a DaMaRo workshop today to review the digital infrastructure required to meet the challenges of the multi disciplinary and institutional research landscape as it pertains to Oxford.

First and foremost, this is no mean feat in a university as diverse and dispersed as Oxford and Paul Jeffreys and colleagues are to be congratulated for the work to date. It’s hard enough attempting join up in a smaller, albeit research intensive university such as Leicester and the road is long and at times tortuous. Never mind potentially at odds with established university structures and careers…

I particularly liked the iterative approach taken during the workshop: so present key challenges to the various stakeholders present; provide an opportunity to reflect; then vote with your feet (ok, post-it notes in traffic light colours) on which areas should be prioritised. At the very least this is useful even if we may argue over which stakeholders are present or not. In this case the range was quite good but inevitably you don’t get so many active researchers (at least in terms of publishing research papers) at this kind of meeting.

In assessing the potential research services it was pointed out where a charging model was required, if not funded by the institution or externally. Turns out here at Oxford the most popular choice was the proposed DataFinder service (hence no weblink yet!) to act as a registry of data resources in the university which could be linked to wider external search. I remember during the UK Research Data Service pathfinder project that there was a clearly identified need for a service of this kind. Jean Sykes of LSE, who helped steer the UKRDS through choppy waters, was present and told me she is about to retire in a couple of months. Well done Jean and I note that UKRDS launched many an interesting and varied flower now blossoming in the bright lights of ‘data as a public good’ – an itch was more than scratched.

I also note in passing that it was one of the clear achievements of the e-science International Virtual Observatory Alliance movement, developed for astronomical research between 2000-2010, that it became possible to search datasets, tools and resources in general via use of community agreed metadata standards. Takes medium to long term investment but it can be done. Don’t try it at home and don’t try and measure it by short term research impact measures alone…even the  Hubble Space Telescope required a decade plus before it was possible to clearly demonstrate that the number of journal papers resulting from secondary reuse of data overtook the originally proposed work. Watch it climb ever upwards after that though…

Back to the workshop: we identified key challenges around Helpdesk type functionality to support research data services and who and how to charge when – in the absence of institutional funding. I should highlight some of the initiatives gaining traction here at Oxford but it was also pointed out that in house services must always be designed to work with appropriate external services. Whether in-house or external, such tools must be interoperable with research information management systems where possible.

Neil Jefferies described the DataBank service for archiving, available from Spring 2013, which provides an open ended commitment to preservation. The archiving is immutable (can’t be altered once deposited) but versioned so that it is possible to step back to an earlier version. Meanwhile Sally Rumsey described a proposed Databank Archiving & Manuscript Submission Combined DAMASC model for linking data & publications. Interestingly there is a serious attempt to work with a university spin off company providing the web 2.0 Colwiz collaboration platform which should link to appropriate Oxford services where applicable. It was noted that to be attractive to researchers a friendly user interface is always welcome. Launch date September 2012 and the service will be free to anyone by the way, in or out of Oxford.

Meanwhile, for research work in progress the DataStage project offers secure storage at the research group level while allowing the addition of simple metadata as the data is stored, making that step up to reusability all the easier down the line. It’s about building good research data management practice into normal research workflows and, of course, making data reusable.

Andrew Richards described the family of supercomputing services at Oxford. Large volumes of at risk storage are available for use on-the-fly but not backed up. You’d soon run into major issues trying to store large amounts of this kind of dataset longer term. There is also very little emphasis on metadata in the supercomputing context other than where supplied voluntarily by researchers. I raised the issue of sustainability of the software & associated parameters in this context where a researcher may need to be able to regenerate the data if required.

James Wilson of OUCS described the Oxford Research Database Service ORDS which will launch around November 2012 and again be run on a cost recovery basis. The service is targeted at hosting smaller sized databases used by the vast majority of researchers who don’t have in-house support or appropriate disciplinary services available to them. It has been designed to be hosted in a cloud environment over the JANET network in the same way as biomedical research database specific applications will be provided by Leicester’s BRISSkit project.

Last but not least, Sian Dodd showed the Oxford Research Data Management website which includes contact points for a range of research data lifecycle queries. It is so important to the often isolated researcher that there is a single place to go and find out more information and point to the tools needed for the job at hand.  Institutions in turn need to be able to link data management planning tools to in-house resources & costing information. To that end, the joint Oxford and Cambridge X5 project (named after the bus between the two) will go live in February 2013 and provide a tool to enable research costing, pricing & approval.

Chatham House at Weetwood Hall: emerging themes from the JISCMRD02 institutional RDM policy workshop

Earlier this week, I and my co-facilitator had four wide-ranging and thought-provoking discussions across two days with the JISCMRD02 projects who attended the programme workshop on institutional research data management policy development and implementation at Weetwood Hall in Leeds.  Conducted under the Chatham House rule, we hoped projects and interested Fellow Travellers would feel able to share their challenges, successes, questions and institutional quirks openly, and I’d like to thank the participants for their time and energy in doing so!

It has been indicated to me that some preliminary notes of themes arising from our discussion would be useful, in advance of more detailed reporting.  I’d like to share some of the main themes that emerged from our group, with the provisos that:

  • these only represent one of the several discussion groups – main themes from the others may vary (and you can read Bill Worthington’s useful account from another group here); and
  • these are presented here for interest and discussion – please don’t interpret any of them as the official position of or advice from the MRD02 programme, the DCC or JISC – they’re simply ideas that bubbled up from our group conversations and were contributed by twelve individuals representing ten very diverse institutions, as well as the thoughts of our facilitator.

That said, we hope the lessons they’ve learned from their work so far in RDM policy development will be useful to others travelling the same path.

Themes and observations:

– At this point (March 2012), institutions are still all at different stages with their research data management policies.  However, as far as  they’re funded by the major funding councils, research councils and associated bodies, institutions are all subject to a common set of requirements, mandates and expectations from those funders, in addition to UK and EU legislation. In other words, the responsibility to have these expectations and requirements clarified and complied with is already there. It’s now up to institutions to decide their approach to an appropriate and realistic response.

– The idea of having an institutional research data management policy in place at your institution can be reassuring.  However, having a policy in place without any real buy-in from staff can be more harmful over time – by breeding complacency – than having no policy yet in place. So it’s best to take a little longer and get it right than rush through a policy in which researchers, research support staff or senior management have no investment or of which they have little awareness.

– A useful approach may be to craft an aspirational, high-level document which outlines principles as opposed to specific attributions of responsible persons, workflows, budgets and so on.  This high-level statement is often more easily understood by senior management and so can be the most effective way to get the policy through university senior committees and into institutional regulations.  This high-level policy should then be accompanied by, and executed by way of, working documents which translate the principles into specific tasks allocated to specific roles.  It should be anticipated that the high-level policy will not need frequent changes; it should allow enough room for, for example, new funder requirements, whereas the working documents should be regularly updated and seen as much more volatile documents.  This is, however, only one type of approach to institutional RDM policy development.  See also the JISCMRD02 Open Exeter project’s blog on the value of aspirational policy here.

– Policy and infrastructure need to evolve in correlation.  Some policies have been well-written but have foundered at the point of senior approval because they have specified responsibilities and workflows which the institution didn’t yet have the infrastructure to deliver.  At the same time, a well-organised policy can help to make the case to senior management for the investment in the necessary infrastructure.  This is another argument in favour of the high-level principles-based approach to the main policy, which can then be used to justify moving towards a more detailed position over time, via the working documents, whilst avoiding the danger of being rejected because of the lack of infrastructure.  It’s also an argument in favour of carrying out some surveying of the current state of infrastructure at your institution – including the ‘soft’ infrastructure elements of training provision, current skills levels in relevant staff groups, staff awareness of the requirements under which they’re currently working, etc.

– Consider the other policies – both internal and external – with which your new research data management policy should work in concert.  It’s obviously better to identify and iron out any potential wrinkles between these before you start plugging the new policy to senior management.  Examples of internal documents may include institutional policies on digital preservation, IT equipment use, open data, response to Freedom of Information requests, data protection, research ethics, intellectual property and academic integrity.  External documents to consider may include the Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information legislation, INSPIRE regulations, environmental data legislation, expectations and requirements of your funding council, expectations and requirements of your research funders, the Research Integrity Office’s research code of conduct, the RCUK code of research practice and relevant legislation relating to use of government data, intellectual property and copyright.

– Retain awareness of the different roles and legislation for research data and administrative data.  Whilst anyone drafting a research data management policy would benefit from knowledge of how the institution handles administrative data, and there may be some crossover in relevant legislation (particularly UK and EU legislation for some aspects of both), it’s important to remember these two categories of data have different purposes, different stakeholders, and attract different expectations by funders, and so should be dealt with by discrete policies, clearly pitched to the relevant audience for each.

– Try to avoid taking the view that researchers will automatically resist implementation of a research data management policy.  Some may be suspicious of it, some will be enthusiastic – and the difference is often down to the approach used.  In institutions where the development and implementation of such a policy is presented as a way to help researchers (e.g. ‘We’ll look after it so you don’t have to’, promotion of the benefits to the researcher, etc.), as opposed to being a new rule or requirement imposed by the central administration, researchers have generally responded enthusiastically.

– Whilst recent research (e.g. the JISC/RIN/DCC DaMSSI project) found that researchers respond well to data management training when it is presented as just one of many aspects of excellence in research practice, there is a tension between embedding RDM training as just another part of routine business and highlighting it sufficiently to attract attendance at training and to ensure researchers pay attention to good RDM practice.  Motivation can be helped by underlining the benefits of good RDM practice to the researcher’s career and profile, their enhanced ability to find their own work in the future, increased impact and a more efficient way of working.

Do any of these points chime with your experience?  Or contradict it?  Let us know in the comments!

Synthesis of first JISCMRD programme benefits

Useful presentations summarising the benefits identified in the first JISCMRD programme 2009-11 from individual projects/institutes and as synthesised by Neil Beagrie on behalf of the programme can be accessed from the JISC national conference 2011 site.
There is also a more general online overview of the outputs of the first JISCMRD programme now available.

Developing Research Data Management Policy

This is Jonathan Tedds (@jtedds): Senior Research Liaison Manager for IT Services; researcher in astronomy and research data management at the University of Leicester. By way of a first blog post proper here in JISCMRD Towers I want to introduce the increasingly higher profile area of Research Data Management (RDM) policy and why it’s rapidly moving from desirable to essential.

Following the agreement by the RCUK umbrella body of research funders on common data principles for making research data reusable – data as a public good – and similar moves by larger charitable trusts such as Wellcome, funders have then batted the ball back to institutions and said deal with it! The EPSRC in particular requires that institutions in receipt of grant funding establish a clear roadmap to align their policies and processes with EPSRC’s expectations by 1st May 2012, and are fully compliant with these expectations by 1st May 2015 – yes, you did read that correctly, that’s a roadmap by this May! Sarah Jones of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has just blogged about this following a refreshed look at this area during the very well attended recent DCC Roadshow at Loughborough in February 2012.

Of course there are many other reasons why any institution that it is serious about research should be investing in the support of RDM and Angus Whyte and I recently co-authored a DCC Briefing on making the case for research data management which sets the national and international context as well as describing the experiences in the last 3 years at the University of Leicester. As a consequence institutions (and more specifically those held accountable for supporting researchers) are now realising, if they didn’t already, that they need to plan for research data management infrastructure on the ground across the entire research data lifecycle. Crucially they will also need high level policy at the institutional level to make this a reality. So how to go about it?

Well there are a few institutions that already have policies in place including Edinburgh, Oxford, Northampton and Hertfordshire. The DCC maintains a list of these with links to relevant institutional data policies. Of course this in itself is a grey area as your institution may well already have a code of practice which covers at least some of this ground. But does the policy (or the code!) always connect to the practice on the ground? Bill Worthington, who leads the Research Data Toolkit (Herts) JISCMRD project, has recently blogged on their work in this area.

At Leicester we have been building up to an institutional level policy to fit alongside an existing code of practice adopting a rather ground up approach; building on exemplars such as the JISCMRD Halogen interdisciplinary database hosting project and the current BRISSkit UMF project I lead for cross NHS-University biomedical research alongside high profile central investment in high performance computing (HPC). I facilitate a Research Computing Management Group across the University which takes a strategic view of these issues and will inform our own institutional level policy working party.

A recent email exchange on the JISCMRD mailing list showed a strong interest from the many new (and established) institutes involved in getting together to discuss a number of issues around developing and implementing RDM policies. Following an online poll it was decided to host a lunch-to-lunch meeting, supported by the Programme and assisted by the DCC, to takes this forward at the University of Leeds on March 12-13th 2012. Based on the poll we are expecting up to 50 participants. I’ll link to further details as they are finalised and made available. Themes raised to date include:

  • How are projects/institutions developing policies? Covering considerations of general principles, guidelines from funders and other bodies, specific considerations for the institution in question.
  • How are people getting approval for policies? A chance to share – e.g. off the record or by the Chatham House Rule – some of the challenges which may be faced.
  • How are people planning to support the implementation of the policies? How do projects/institutions intend to support transition from policy to practice?  Policy, infrastructure and guidance.  Interplay of top-down and bottom-up elements?  How to build mention and requirements of subject specific and/or institutional services into institutional policies.
  • How technical solutions affect policy decisions How much will policy be driven by what is technically available to an institution as a (suite of) data management solutions.
  • How are we going to assess and critique the success of RDM systems and policies

Finally, there are of course difficulties in all of this focus on the institutional level. As a researcher myself (astronomy) I argue that a researcher or research group is likely to have much more in common regarding their requirements to manage their data with a similar researcher or group in the same discipline but residing in any other institution (including international) compared to another researcher/group even in the same building. So we are asking a lot for institutions to meet this full range of requirements across all of their research areas. Researchers rather tend to look to their disciplinary learned societies or evaluation panels established by funders to provide coordinated responses. To be sure, the institutions have a strong role to play and shoulder a strong measure of responsibility but they are by no means the whole answer to the problem as I blogged in Research Fortnight (February 2011).