Category Archives: Projects: Commonalities & Differences

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!

For which RDM activities will UK research funders pay?

Much RDM activity has been stimulated by requirements and expectations emerging from the main UK research funders, as usefully described in the DCC’s funder policy table.  But do funders understand what they are really asking researchers and institutions to do with their data, and how much sustainable research data management activities actually cost?  The April 2013 DCC Research Data Management Forum was a free and timely opportunity for Jisc MRD projects, DCC Institutional Engagement partners and other interested people to directly quiz representatives of some of the main UK research funders.  Graham Pryor of the DCC has written a blogpost over at the DCC website, which lays out the day’s discussion and provides funders’ responses to queries about RDM costs.

For me, some of the main take-home messages included:

–          More cooperation and standardisation across research funder guidance to bidders, policy and guidance to peer review panel members would be sensible and useful for the sector as a whole.  That is to say, harmonisation of language, approach and policy would benefit bidding researchers and their institutions but would also help funders work in a more effective and interoperable way, which has to be advantageous to them too.

–          Collaborative measures by HEIs and researchers should be considered.  Who else in your area would be a good partner?  Not just for a research bid, but for shared services such as storage?  Can you achieve an economy of scale by partnering with another institution in your geographical or research area?

–          Use of existing tools and services should be considered as a priority: HEI doing their own development should be a last resort.  Anthony Beitz, amongst others, has argued this persuasively before.  Initiatives like the DCC can help with suggestions and descriptions of tools.

–          We need to move forward with pragmatic measures for what researchers need right now, whilst not losing sight of modelling longer-term sustainable strategies.

So far, so sensible.  But a take-home worry for me was the importance placed again and again by funders on the key role of the peer review panel.  We don’t know how AHRC or ESRC deal with this because neither of them were present, but the funders who were there rely on their peer review panels to make decisions about ‘the science’ (for which I mentally substitute ‘the research’) and also, in the case of most of the funders present, the data management plan or statement.

Given that we who work solely and only on research data management, digital curation and digital preservation as our fields of interest are still in the process of working this stuff out, how do we know whether the peer review panel members have sufficient and appropriate knowledge of these fields to responsibly discharge their duty when judging the RDM plans of other researchers?  One funder explained that they expect a DMP to be in place at the point of bidding but that these are not peer reviewed “because peer reviewers are unlikely to have the knowledge required.”  What of the other funders?  It strikes me that knowing the limits of panel expertise – the ‘known unknowns’ – is by far the most responsible approach to any type of peer review process.

In addition to quality or level of knowledge, I’m also interested in consistency of standards applied.  One funder openly admitted on the day that he is aware that there is a troubling amount of variability in the approach to both the creation and assessment of data management plans in bids.  Other comments indicated that some bids have their data management plans or statements specifically reviewed and some don’t.

Peer review panels are largely comprised of senior researchers (by which I mean time in the field as opposed to age).  The Jisc MRD programme, like many other initiatives, often focuses training and awareness-raising efforts on early career researchers and postgraduate students, with the idea being that they will take their good practice up with them through their academic careers.  But what do we do until then?  Even if we can rely on current ECRs and PGs to be well and consistently trained, we’re still in a situation where all bidding, for the next twenty-odd years is being reviewed by senior researchers who have not been specifically targetted by RDM training and awareness-raising efforts.

A solution?  As fellow evidence gatherer Jonathan Tedds suggested in the discussion, we can learn from areas such as bidding for telescope time in astronomy, where peer review necessarily includes someone who is specifically there to provide their technical knowledge.  For consistency, research funders seem to need the presence of or input from an appropriate external body.  So this seems to be an area where the DCC and research funders can work together, for example, to produce consistent and approachable, up-to-date guidance for peer review panel members, and to ensure someone who specialises in digital curation as applied to research data management is included in their peer review panels.

Just my suggestions.  Your comments are, as always, welcome below.

Laura Molloy

e: laura.molloy AT

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.

DMP session at JISC MRD and DCC IE workshop, Nottingham

Wednesday’s session on data management planning (session 2A) at the JISC Managing Research Data programme progress / DCC institutional engagements event was addressed by

  • Rachel Proudfoot of the RoaDMaP project at Leeds and her researcher colleague Professor Richard Hall of the SpineFX project;
  • Meik Poschen of the MiSS project at Manchester (as well as of programme evidence gatherer fame!);
  • the UKDA’s Veerle Van den Eynden of the RD@Essex project.

Speakers each gave lively updates on the work of their projects, their engagement with research data management and, particularly, data management planning in each of their contexts.

Challenges and lessons learned

Rachel Proudfoot reported that at Leeds, every research application is now to go through an RDM risk assessment process.  As part of that, I wondered if that meant a large majority of researchers would have participated in the writing of a data management plan of one sort or another.  However, RoaDMaP research tells us that 44% of researchers surveyed said they’d done so.  This is an encouraging figure, but the RoaDMaP team are keen to improve matters.

RoaDMaP has been using the DCC’s DMP online tool in their work with researchers: Rachel reported that not all funders are equally well served by it yet but has been feeding suggestions to the DCC and hopes to be able to recommend it to researchers in the future.

Rachel is not alone in dealing with mixed practice across faculties and subject areas in a large, complex institution.  Veerle Van den Eynden described how RD@Essex is also engaging with diverse disciplines to learn about and build on knowledge of diverse discipline practices.

Rachel underlined the need for a consistent message across committees and policy.  Veerle agreed that the university needs to send a strong, consistent message about its stance and expectations around RDM to all researchers.  To be achieved, of course, this needs to be supported by technical infrastructure and the cohesive interaction of university systems, a challenge which, as Meik Poschen reported, is being tackled at Manchester too.  As Meik noted, the integration of systems is not only a more efficient and possibly cost-effective way of gathering and keeping information about research at the institution, but it can also minimise the frustration of researchers with administrative procedures by removing the need to supply the same information several times as part of the bidding process.

Another challenge identified is the provision and sustainability of support for RDM activities including the development of data management plans.  Some projects are able to provide this at the moment due to the relatively low levels of awareness and concomitant low levels of demand.  But projects today aired concerns about scalability, particularly once policies become more robust, awareness rises and demand increases.  All three projects are reaching out to their various audiences with online guidance resources to provide on-demand help and supplement in-person guidance provision.

Richard Hall, a spine researcher at Leeds, is clear that members of the research team should be a priority in the development of a data management plan as they will be the best people to give a realistic account of the scale and type of data anticipated, and also any changes in technology that are likely to occur during project lifespan.  His example brought it home: a few years ago, scanners could produce a scan of a vertebra in a day or two: now whole spines can be scanned in a few hours.  Increasing the speed and capacity of scanning not only means that more scans are produced during the project lifespan: also, as it’s so quick and easy to produce larger and more complex scans, researchers are likely to produce and keep more and larger scans than they would have a few years ago.  Meik also outlined the challenges posed to RDM by rapid change in research technology.

Other lessons learned by Richard in this area are that DMPs must be part of research activity from the earliest stage possible, and that a requirements specification needs to be developed at that time.  A project risk assessment is also useful to identify challenges.  These will all need resourcing – not only financially but also in terms of time and attention: data management planning for even the simplest data needs thought and researcher engagement.  (Unsurprisingly, financial resourcing for RDM was also highlighted as another challenge by the other two institutions.)

But of course more roles than the researcher alone must be engaged: all projects acknowledged the various roles involved in good RDM practice across the institution, and Meik was particularly clear about the need to clearly assign both responsibilities and accountability for various stages of RDM.  MiSS is developing training for library, research office and business managers at Manchester to raise awareness across the campus.

What has worked or is working?

In RoaDMaP’s view, the DCC’s DMPonline works quite well for some funders.  Examples of a DMP created by the tool can be reassuring for researchers, who often find that by contrast, talking about it in the abstract can be disconcerting.

Rachel is convinced that to get researchers on board with guidance, services and tools, it’s crucial to put lots of feedback mechanisms in place for timely and detailed user information.  This not only helps to improve the product, but also gets over the message to researchers or other users that their experience is important to the process, an idea echoed by Richard Hall.

Richard is pleased that working on data management plans with a research team doesn’t just yield the plan itself: his experience is that the process also helps to bring about cultural change as the relevant issues are examined and decisions reached.  Other advantages to the activity are that it helps to instil a culture of cooperation throughout the research team even where there are national boundaries, and that the additional governance structures ultimately enhance research.

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

The MRD programme has done much already to bring RDM questions into focus, and put in place pathfinder projects as well as supporting development in institutions at a more advanced stage of supporting RDM.  Many projects will be hopeful of further JISC MRD programme investment to sustain and extend the work on which they are currently engaged.

Many suggestions emerged in the question period for future DCC activity, including:

  • Promotion of the benefits of writing DMPs alongside the risks and costs of not participating
  • Work with Je-s / RCUK to streamline the process and for consistency
  • Help to coordinate policy production across engaged institutions
  • Guidance about roles and responsibilities

How do you model costs?  Have you assigned responsibilities and / or accountability for various RDM functions at your institution?  And is there anything you’d like the MRD programme, the JISC more widely or the DCC to do, either now or during future work, to meet RDM challenges?  Tell us in the comments.

Two JISC MRD programme events this week!

A particularly busy week this week for the JISC MRD programme and its projects!

On Wednesday 24 and Thursday 25 October, we have the ‘Components of Institutional Research Data Services‘ meeting which involves both the JISC Managing Research Data Programme 2011-13 and the DCC Institutional Engagements team.  It’s from 12.00 on Wednesday to 16.00 on Thursday and is at the NCL Conference Centre, Nottingham.

Those attending, and those who are just interested in what we’ll be up to, can see the programme here.

Suggested Twitter hashtags, should you be that way inclined, are #JISCMRD and #UKDCC.

And then on Friday 26 October, we’re continuing to keep ourselves busy with the kick-off event for the new strand of research data management training materials projects!  This event is in London, at Venuesetc. Paddington and I’ll be there as one of the DaMSSI-ABC team along with the rest of the team and our four new(ish!) training projects.  The programme is available here.  Good hashtags for this event include #JISCMRD, #DaMSSI, #researchinfonet and #UKDCC.

We’ll be hearing from the projects and also asking for their take on some draft criteria for describing and assessing training interventions, which is a really interesting and accessible document to help thinking about planning and assessing training.  The criteria have been developed by the Research Information and Digital Literacies Coalition (RIDLs), supported by the Research Information Network.  There is more information about the criteria here:

DaMSSI-ABC will be a support and synthesis initiative for the training projects.  It’s explained in more detail here: and also has its own blog at  Please feel free to use the blog to post comments, questions and feedback before, during or after the event.

Hope to see you this week!


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.

Ways of approaching an RDM Service

A few weeks back an interesting discussion took place on the JISCMRD mailinglist, picked up on this blog under the main question of ‘ What are the requirements an RDMI has to cover?’.

One of the conclusions was that requirements gathering, scope and application obviously depend on a number of factors, one major one being the remit of the project: implementing a system for (pilot) audiences is different from getting an institution-wide service into place and running. The MaDAM project between 2009 and 2011 implemented a pilot RDMI for users from the biomedical domain – and was followed up by  MiSS (MaDAM into Sustainable Service) in autumn last year. Whilst having all the crucial experience, findings, contacts and committed stakeholders through MaDAM to build upon, it was clear that a set of new challenges would arise in implementing a RDMI as a service for the whole (and benefit) of the University.

1) Especially having the main stakeholders on board for such an endeavour is of utmost importance – but soon we realised that this process basically never stops: aims, benefits and plans have to be mulled over, renegotiated and agreed upon. There is always one office and internal project more to be included.

2) The University of Manchester also released their RDM Policy in May this year – and also other internal endeavours change structures (research offices), infrastructure (storage, eDMP) and processes. As a research project implementing a service we have to closely liaise with all those stakeholders to be on the same page and coordinate our efforts (and integrate with existing systems and the IT landscape) – despite a small core project team.

3) Outreach, awareness raising and training become more and more important. To this end (also including the points made before) we had to draw up a communication plan, collaborate and plan for an interim service and training for staff. We always strived to hold as many presentations as possible for various audiences at the University about our projects – now we have to start organising dedicated events e.g. at the moment on DMPs. Also: tangible benefits have to be communicated to all audiences!

4) One major challenge for the devleopment of the service and how it will look like lies in balancing the generic with the specific needs. Trying to gather and negotiate as many views, feedback and concerns is a huge task and some evolvement over time is needed – especially as only a system (service!) in use shows all the specifics required for every user, group and discipline. The service coming into life in about a year’s time will be a ‘thin layer’ across the whole RDM lifecycle, but the development is a continuous one and the RDM Service will get more tailored, sophisticated and mature while running.

Meik Poschen  <>
Twitter:  @MeikPoschen

What are the requirements an RDMI has to cover?

The idea for this post came through a discussion Tom Parsons (ADMIRe project, University of Nottingham) started on the JISCMRD mailinglist about the ‘Requirements for an RDM system’. As we all know there are a lot of challenges involved in figuring out what requirements have to be covered by a Research Data Management Infrastructure. What is it an RDMI has to deliver in the end, what functional specifications have to be defined and on what scale?

Requirements have to be gathered on different levels from various researchers, research groups and other stakeholders. Approaches, case studies and outcomes are depending not only on projects’ remits (e.g. pilot projects vs. 2nd phase projects implementing an institutional wide service), but also on resources, buy-in from stakeholders and varying needs of the target audiences. The wider the field to play on, the harder it gets to balance out disciplinary specific and generic needs and to decide what parts of the research lifecycle can/have to be covered.

At the same time the institutional landscape has to be taken into account as well, especially the IT landscape and systems already existing – Tom pointed to the danger of “straying into the territory of a research administration system when we are thinking about an overall RDM system”. Trying to inter-connect with existing systems across the institution is something e.g. the MiSS project is doing at the moment, integrating existing infrastructure while adhering to the existing IT framework at the University of Manchester; this means the project initiation and accounting systems will be connected to the MiSS RDM core system (as will eScholar as the dissemination platform) and e.g. DMPs are automatically transferred into the active data stage. The temporary downside of this approach – creating an RDMI across the whole lifecylce, but with a thin layer for a service to start with – is that certain specific needs can only be addressed over time. Then again, such a new infrastructure needs to be able to evolve in use anyway.

To round up this post, here are some thoughts mentioned in the discussion:

Chris Morris pointed to a “concept of operations for research data management for a specific domain, molecular biology:” and also “got one general suggestion, which is not to start with use cases about deposition, but with retrieval. There is no scholarly value in a write-only archive.”

Some examples for use cases provided by Joss Winn: “ He remarks that those are very high level looking at them now and provides another link with “more detail from our project tracker, although it may not be as easy to follow: Basically, other than the usual deposit, describe, retrieve functionality, our two pilot research groups are looking to use the RDM platform for data analysis, such that is is a working tool from the start of the research project, rather than a system for depositing data at the end of the project.”

Steve Welburn addresses another important question, namely what technical framework to choose and how they came to choose DSpace:

Thanks to everyone mentioned for their links and thoughts!

Meik Poschen  <>
Twitter:  @MeikPoschen