The program has evolved from an off-the-shelf approach to a more tailored and yet
fluid idea of what constitutes ‘an engag...
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RDAP14 Poster: The DCC’s institutional engagement program: changing approaches to a changing landscape


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Research Data Access and Preservation Summit
March 26-28, 2014
San Diego, CA

Martin Donnelly, Digital Curation Centre

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RDAP14 Poster: The DCC’s institutional engagement program: changing approaches to a changing landscape

  1. 1. The program has evolved from an off-the-shelf approach to a more tailored and yet fluid idea of what constitutes ‘an engagement,’ with a more fluid and less hierarchical structure for delivery. We now define an IE as ‘any supported activity that benefits one institution (or self-contained group of institutions) either solely or primarily,’ and we categorise activities under the following headings: THE INSTITUTIONAL ENGAGEMENT PROGRAMME changing approaches to a changing landscape Phase 1: 2011-2013 Martin Donnelly Digital Curation Centre University of Edinburgh Twitter: @mkdDCC Further reading: “A Maturing Process of Engagement: Raising Data Capabilities in UK Higher Education” by Pryor, G. (2013), International Journal of Digital Curation, Vol. 8 No. 2, and “Reshaping the DCC Institutional Engagement programme” by Jones, S., Rans, J., Sisu, D. and Whyte, A. (2014) International Digital Curation Conference, San Francisco, CA. ( This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 UK: Scotland License. Redesign / reorganise Phase 2: 2013 onwards… Formed in 2004, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) is a national support service and centre of expertise in digital preservation and data management, distributed between three UK universities: Edinburgh, Bath and Glasgow. Increased funder expectations for functioning research data management infrastructures have obliged institutions to take action in order to assess and improve their data capabilities. While some have been quick off the mark, galvanised by pro- active senior management, others have been slower to engage with the new requirements in a centralised way, obliging staff further down decision-making chains to act independently. Between 2011 and 2013 the DCC received special funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to work in collaboration with twenty higher education institutions via a programme of institutional engagements (IEs). Our goal was to improve institutional data-related services and capabilities, synthesising the lessons learned to identify and promote transferable lessons and approaches to benefit the wider sector. Upon conclusion of the original IE programme, we gained continuation funding from our core sponsors, Jisc, to work with another cohort of universities, no longer as a pilot but as a core strand of the DCC’s work. Institutions have rightly understood research data management as a ‘hybrid’ activity, and many have assembled multi-functional working groups or task forces to tackle it in a holistic fashion, usually with a senior champion providing resources and driving the changes through approval channels; our engagements generally involve close interaction with stakeholders from a variety of business areas. Rather than offering a flat 60 days’ pro bono support, as was the case in Phase 1, we now discuss detailed requirements with the institution from the outset, identifying deliverables and key indicators of success, and laying out a bespoke workplan informed by previous experience. As well as changing the delivery side of the work, we also streamlined the way in which it is managed and coordinated. Management of the programme is now ‘striped’ across three senior institutional support officers, each with responsibility for a specific aspect of the work: definition, delivery, and synthesis. ACT = Managing active data ADV = General advice and support e.g. initial planning meetings BUS = Business plan and sustainability CAT = Data catalogues and metadata advice DMP = Data management planning HAN = Data selection and handover (inc. external repository selection) POL = RDM policy, strategy and roadmaps REP = Data repositories (inc. workflows, requirements and platform capabilities) TRA = Guidance/ advocacy, training and support We aim to keep in touch with institutions from the first IE cohort, offering them a flat 5 days’ pro bono support each year. In doing this we can maintain the relationships we have developed, and remain well positioned to respond to new challenges that require broader, coordinated approaches to their solution.