This one-day event provided an overview of the JISC MRD programme training strand, its aims and context; a description of the DaMSSI-ABC support initiative for the training strand and various pieces of work it hopes to complete before particularly in terms of making outputs easier to find and use; and recognition of the fact that the activity of the four small training materials projects of the JISC Digital Preservation programme have correspondence with the RDMTrain02 projects.
The four RDMTrain02 projects each talked about their approach, activities, challenges and progress, giving us an idea of the subject areas or staff groups they are specifically addressing with the RDM training materials they develop:
- RDMrose, Sheffield (Andrew Cox): ‘information professionals’ (which I understand to be, in this context, academic librarians)
- Research Data Management Training for the whole project lifecycle in Physics & Astronomy research (RDMTPA), Hertfordshire (Joanna Goodger): PG students and ECRs in the physical sciences
- Sound Data Management Training (SoDaMaT), Queen Mary University of London (Steve Welburn): postgraduate research students, researchers and academics working in the area of digital music and audio research
- TraD: Training for Data Management at UEL (Gurdish Sandhu and Stephen Grace): PGR students in psychology and in computer science.
The afternoon session consisted of an introduction to a set of description and evaluation criteria which have been developed by the Research Information Network through its Research Information and Digital Literacies coalition. These criteria are in an advanced draft form and participants were asked to read and feedback on them. They are intended to help with 1. specifying what the training resource or event is meant to do and who it is for, and 2. assessing the success of the training against those specifications. As such, it’s potentially a very useful tool to suggest to and remind those developing training of useful measures they can take and factors that should be considered in order to create a genuinely useful training resource, whilst also providing a framework for review and impact.
Some participants were perhaps not entirely clear on the potential benefits of the criteria, and profited from a chance to discuss the document with members of the DaMSSI-ABC team. Those who had a clear grasp of the aim and structure of the document – usually by replacing ‘information literacy’ with ‘research data management’ for ease of use in their particular context – agreed it looked very useful and provided a structure that may clarify what they’re trying to do.
Detailed feedback and questions on the criteria were sought, and will still be received gratefully by Stéphane Goldstein at stephane.goldstein AT researchinfonet.org.
Discussion was a good opportunity for projects to ask questions and share experiences. Points included:
- Culture change in institution can’t be expected to happen during short project lifespan. But projects can be a catalyst to inspire change and start the process.
- Important to remember that changing culture in one area or institution can influence other players, e.g. researcher practice and requirements can influence the behaviour of publishers if messages are clear enough.
- Support – including admin – staff are an important population in institutions: in universities, they are over 50% of staff. They also have to manage data and information. Datasafe (Bristol) has been considering their needs as well as those of researchers.
- Simplification of models can sometimes help engagement. As JISC’s Neil Grindley pointed out, many initiatives have simplified models such as the DCC lifecycle model into four main areas; e.g. the four digital preservation projects have collaborated on a leaflet which reduces DC activities to: start early, explain, store, share. This will heretofore be known as the Grindley Theory of Four Things.
- Short (5 – 10 min) resources lend themselves to easier re-use and can more easily be slipped into training at the institution that isn’t about RDM. This means we can raise awareness more widely than just preaching to converted. For example, it would make sense to include RDM in induction training, or training for researchers in bidding for funding.
- Terminology is still an issue: ‘digital preservation’ and even ‘data’ is problematic in some training contexts.
- People in institutions are already doing training in disparate ways in areas connected to RDM. It’s important to find out if this is happening in your institution, if they are aware of your project and if you’re giving consistent messages across the institution.
- Even simple measures can be valuable when you’re trying to quantify the benefits of improved RDM. Sometimes a quantity is useful, sometimes a story.
- Need for generic as well as discipline-specific training and resources.
- Need to work across campus and involve all relevant areas such as research office, library, IT services (both local and central computing services), staff development services, legal office.
- Librarian role is valuable for various reasons, but an important one is the ability to use links across campus.
- Whilst researchers often appear to have higher loyalty to their discipline than their institution, and researchers are a mobile population, a discipline by its nature doesn’t often have agreed rules, representatives, funded infrastructure or membership. So knowledge can be passed through informal networks, but there is little in the way of actually engaging with ‘a discipline’ as a whole. It’s still institutions who are providing the infrastructure, policy framework and the training. DaMSSI-ABC keen to work with professional bodies where these exist to try and address this situation.
- This strand of projects as well as fellow travellers, e.g. www.le.ac.uk/researchdata happy to build on prior work, e.g. JISC Incremental www.glasgow.ac.uk/datamanagement, UKDA, Sudamih, in the ‘four things’ approach to building online guidance.
- Is there a role for organisations such as UKCGE, HEA?
JISC MRD training strand (RDMTrain02): http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/di_researchmanagement/managingresearchdata/research-data-management-training.aspx
RIN Research Information and Digital Literacies Coalition: http://www.researchinfonet.org/infolit/ridls/
RIN Criteria for Describing and Assessing Training: http://www.researchinfonet.org/infolit/ridls/strand2/