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"Perfection is the enemy of the good "Supporting research data management: A pragmatic approach
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"Perfection is the enemy of the good "Supporting research data management: A pragmatic approach


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  • 1. “ Perfection is the enemy of the good” Supporting research data management: A pragmatic approach Catharine Ward, Cambridge University Library Sudamih Workshop, Oxford, 22 nd July, 2010 A pilot project for supporting research data management
  • 2. Outline
    • Objectives
    • Scoping Study
    • Concerns and Issues
    • Key findings
    • Implementation plan – recommendations
  • 3. Objectives
    • A scoping study to determine key research data management and preservation needs of researchers
    • Develop a plan for addressing these issues
    • Create and pilot tools and services
    • Embed the resources and findings within the University departments and supporting services and feed these up to a wider audience through the DCC, DPC and JISC
  • 4. Scoping Study
      • Archaeology
      • Chemistry
      • Engineering
      • English
      • Public Health
      • Biology / SPRI
    • Building on HATII digital preservation study
    • Semi-structured interviews
    • Similar departments to allow comparison
  • 5. Concerns and issues
    • Procedures for creating and organising data
      • how best to name, structure and document data?
    • Data storage and access
      • never enough storage! the need to access data remotely
    • Backup
      • who is responsible? (often not done – and is rarely done well)
    • Preservation
      • How? Who? Blank looks that back-up isn’t preservation…
    • Data sharing and re-use
      • Ok, but only on my terms
  • 6. Issues with existing guidance & training
    • Difficult to find
    • Difficult to use
    • Don’t know who to ask for assistance
    • Training is often not relevant or convenient
      • need for disciplinary examples
      • online resources for anytime access
    “ The whole thing is incredibly dull.” “ There’s no point being told all this stuff when you’re not using it because – I only learn how to do things when I need to know.”
  • 7. Key findings
    • Main concerns similar between Cambridge and Glasgow - not discipline-specific - but recognise the need for disciplinary examples for training to be understood
    • Simple issues often the most irksome
    • Training and guidance resources must be simple, engaging and easy to access
    • Points of intervention
    • Language matters
  • 8.
    • Implementation Plan: Recommendations
  • 9. Produce simple, visual guidance on creating, storing and managing data
    • Making help easier to find:
    • We will create simple, centralised data management web pages
    • including categorised links and pithy notes to…
    • - Existing local and external resources
    • - New resources created for the project
  • 10. University of Edinburgh’s Information Services portal MIT Libraries’ Data Management and Publishing webpages UKDA guidance pages
  • 11. What to call this?
    • So we know we have to translate research data management vocabulary from specialist to non-specialist – but how ?  We need to find words and phrases that at least have a chance of making sense to researchers who are not specialists in information management / records management / data preservation / data curation.   
  • 12.
    • Making help easier to understand:
    • Produce simple, visual guidance on creating, storing and managing data
      • e.g. Fact sheets, FAQs, flow diagrams, checklists
  • 13. Cooks Illustrated
  • 14. Offering practical training resources with discipline-specific examples
    • Stand alone slides/resources that can be dropped into other courses – train the trainer
    • Collaborate with existing courses within departments
    • Work with researchers to document their experiences, video case studies etc.
    • Provide online training materials and tutorials
    • Create/host screencasts for anytime access to training
  • 15.  
  • 16. Work in progress
    • A performing arts case study based around the DCC Lifecycle Model (example from Oxford workshop – thanks!)
    • Will audio-record the autumn ‘ Curation for Researchers ’ course to create online content
    • (model used in Planets project and well received)
    • Embed training in existing courses
  • 17. Connect researchers with support staff who can offer tailored advice and partnering
    • Raise awareness of existing support staff and services through data management portals and outreach
    • Offer on-to-one support to help researchers define best approach for their context
    • Build links with research office to point researchers to relevant support when apply for grants
  • 18. Work towards the development of a comprehensive data management infrastructure Cambridge University Library HATII Digital Preservation Advisory Board Many local initiatives, projects and exemplars… Enlighten
  • 19. Thanks for listening  Any questions?
    • For further info:
    • Email: Catharine Ward - [email_address]
    • Project website:
    • Project blog: