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RDM at Northampton EMALINK 130313 v3


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RDM at Northampton EMALINK 130313 v3

  1. 1. Institutional approaches to research data management: University of Northampton case study EMALINK workshop University of Northampton, 13th March 2013 Miggie Pickton Research Support Librarian Library and Learning Services
  2. 2. Outline • Case study: – Background and context – Understanding data management practices at Northampton – DAF project – From project to policy – Implementing the policy – EPSRC research data roadmap – DCC institutional engagement • Reflections
  3. 3. Background – the university • About The University of Northampton: – Achieved university status and research degree awarding powers in 2005 – Research seen as integral to being a university • 200+ research students, ??? research active staff – numbers are rising • Increased focus on supporting the research community • Like everyone else... thinking about satisfying funders, increasing research impact, developing research environment, the REF...
  4. 4. Background - Data management at Northampton Back in 2010: • Little was known centrally about university researchers‟ data storage requirements, or the research workflow that incorporates the creation and management of data • No university wide data storage policy or procedure existed • We were aware that research funders were beginning to require data as well as published research outputs to be made openly available • In NECTAR (our institutional repository), we had available the infrastructure to store and preserve digital data
  5. 5. Data Asset Framework So we decided to find out more: • We chose to undertake a project using the „Data Asset Framework‟ methodology from the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) • DAF had already been used by a number of institutions and we could draw on their experiences in designing our own project • Previous studies had noted that the process of undertaking DAF had been valuable in itself, even if the resulting inventory of data was only partial
  6. 6. What is DAF? “The Data Asset Framework is a set of methods to: • find out what data assets are being created and held within institutions; • explore how those data are stored, managed, shared and reused; • identify any risks e.g. misuse, data loss or irretrievability; • learn about researchers‟ attitudes towards data creation and sharing; • suggest ways to improve ongoing data management.” (Digital Curation Centre, 2009, p.3)
  7. 7. DAF at Northampton • Project team: – two project researchers (graduate interns) plus a Project Board comprising staff with expertise in repositories, records management and collection development • Ran from May to June 2010 (eight weeks) • Data collection, three stages: – Initial interviews with research leaders in each School; online survey of researchers; one-to-one interviews with researchers • Topics covered: – Types, sizes and formats of research data; data ownership; storage; security; sharing and access (short and long term); funders‟ requirements
  8. 8. DAF at Northampton – some findings • Three generic types of researcher (each with characteristic needs and behaviours) - research student; independent researcher; group researcher/collaborator • Data storage needs, behaviours and vulnerabilities varied through the research lifecycle • Consensus in use of some file types (e.g. .doc, .xls, .jpeg) but not others (e.g. for audio, video, databases) • Very few Northampton researchers had applied for funding from an organisation that mandated open access to research data • Just over a half of respondents expressed interest in a university repository for data (either open or closed access)
  9. 9. DAF at Northampton - concerns Lots of good practice, especially in data security, but in some cases: • Uncertainty over ownership of research data • Data still collected in out-dated formats • Data management practices guided by trial and error rather than informed by good practice • Data neglected once a project is complete • Researchers often ill-informed (or misinformed) of the services available to them
  10. 10. DAF at Northampton - recommendations • A Research Data Policy to be drafted and approved by the University Research Committee (URC) • University to clarify its position on the ownership of research data • Graduate School, Records Manager and Library staff to develop and promote training sessions and guides to RDM • Information Services to further develop and disseminate expertise in preservation planning to support researchers wishing to store and access their data over the medium to long term • Project findings to be disseminated to Schools and Research Centres, together with advice and guidance in line with the new policy (Full results and recommendations are described in the project report – see Alexogiannopoulos et al., 2010)
  11. 11. From project to policy • October 2010 – DAF project report presented to URC • November 2010 - URC Research Data Working Group convened to discuss: – Scope of policy – Fit with research lifecycle – Procedure to support policy – Relationship with other university policies and practices (e.g. research ethics; academic misconduct) • November-December 2010 – policies from other institutions reviewed
  12. 12. From project to policy • January 2011 – discussions with the DCC re „generic‟ version of DMP Online • January 2011 – first RDM proposal presented to URC: – RCUK recommendations to be followed (RCUK, 2009) – Principal Investigator to complete a data management plan at the start of every project (DMP Online recommended for this purpose) – A central dedicated storage facility for research data to be provided – Support and training to be offered to researchers • Members of URC expressed concern
  13. 13. From project to policy • URC concerns: – Duplication of effort - “we have to do this already ” ... for funders, professional bodies, etc. – Relevance or applicability to different disciplines – Reluctance to set disposal date (or even review date) – “I‟d be very upset if my data were deleted” ...after I had left – Aversion to procedures being mandatory – Expense – who will pay for it? • So back to the drawing board...
  14. 14. From project to policy Revised proposal eventually approved by URC in June 2011: • Emphasis on encouragement rather than mandate • No longer expected for every research project • Simplified internal procedures • Default five year review period • Additional help offered for identifying external data archives University of Northampton Research Data Policy
  15. 15. Implementing the policy • Approval of the policy by URC did not result in immediate behavioural change • Nothing much happened for a number of months while the university‟s professional services were reorganised • Change of VC and senior management team meant that new relationships had to be built (and new priorities to be understood) • But lower level advocacy rumbled on...
  16. 16. EPSRC expectations • Meanwhile the EPSRC had announced its policy framework on research data and its expectations concerning the management and provision of access to EPSRC-funded research data • Institutions in receipt of EPSRC funding were expected to “have developed a clear roadmap to align their policies and processes with EPSRC’s expectations by 1st May 2012, and to be fully compliant with these expectations by 1st May 2015” (EPSRC, 2011) • A working group was convened and a University of Northampton Research Data Roadmap was developed
  17. 17. Research data roadmap • Mapped current and planned practice to EPSRC expectations • Covered: awareness of regulatory environment; connection with published papers; access to datasets; use of metadata; and data curation • Extended coverage to all subject areas to encourage good data management practice and ensure equality of provision • Roadmap approved by Research and Enterprise Committee in April 2012 • But extra resources still need approval by University Executive Team
  18. 18. DCC Engagement (1) • Since mid 2012 we have been working with the DCC on one of their 21 institutional engagements • So far DCC staff have run training sessions on: – Managing your PhD data (for research students) – Managing data through the research lifecycle (Business) – Meeting funders‟ requirements for RDM (Social sciences) • And provided guidance: – Creation of a DMPonline template for the University of Northampton, with attached guidelines – Development of a guide to meeting ESRC data management planning requirements (in conjunction with John Horton) • We have also run one-to-one RDM clinics for researchers
  19. 19. DCC engagement (2) Still to come: • Training: – A session for LLS staff on supporting RDM requirements – Other sessions for Schools by request • Guidance: – A series of RDM posts on our Research Support Hub • Provision for central storage of research data: – One major multinational project is piloting the use of „TUNDRA2‟ to store and manage their data; from this we hope to develop a template that would be suitable for use in all sizes of research project
  20. 20. Reflections • The DAF project gave us the chance to have much more meaningful and in-depth discussions with individual researchers – allowing us to learn more of their needs and to promote our services (including our repository, NECTAR) • Awareness of the full implications of good research data management has increased • Data management training is now a standard element of research student induction and with the DCC‟s help we should be able to offer more training sessions in future • Good research data management should support the University Records Manager‟s role in dealing with FOI and EIR requests (JISC, 2010) • Greater recognition among researchers of the expertise held by support staff in records and data management
  21. 21. References • Alexogiannopoulos, E., McKenney, S. and Pickton, M. (2010) Research Data Management Project: a DAF investigation of research data management practices at The University of Northampton. Northampton: University of Northampton. Available from: [Accessed 01.03.2013]. • Digital Curation Centre (2009) Data Asset Framework: Implementation guide. Available from: [Accessed 01.03.2013]. • EPSRC (2011) Impact, timescales and support [online]. Available from: [Accessed 01.03.2013]. • JISC (2010) Freedom of Information and research data: Questions and answers. Available from: [Accessed 01.03.2013]. • Research Councils UK (2009) RCUK Policy and code of conduct on the governance of good research conduct: Integrity, clarity and good management. Available from: [Accessed 01.03.2013].
  22. 22. Acknowledgement We are grateful to the JISC for funding the KeepIt project (from which our DAF project grew); to the Graduate Boost programme for supplying the two DAF project researchers, Sam McKenney and Edward Alexogiannopoulos; and to Sarah Jones, Martin Donnelly and Marieke Guy of the Digital Curation Centre for their help and support with the DAF and DMP Online tools and in our current institutional engagement.