An internship in the Research Data Service: Towards tailored Research Data Support

For four weeks in July and August 2018, I did an internship in the Research Data Support (RDS) of the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services (IS). Otherwise, I am working as a librarian trainee in Bern University Library in Switzerland. There, as well as in other parts of Europe, research data is an issue which constantly gains momentum, and libraries are, among others, at the forefront of the changing scene. IS has a very good reputation for their work in this field, and so, as a librarian to be, the internship in the RDS was an outstanding opportunity for me to get first hand insights and experiences.

The project I was working on was about tailoring guidance for researchers writing their Data Management Plans (DMP) with the tool dmponline. As a basis for this, I had to gather information about the practices and needs of academic and support staff around research data management (RDM) and DMP. I was to work with staff from all three colleges. (In fact, I found that my project had quite some similarities to Clarissa’s who was just finishing her project when I joined the team.)

My first step was to get in touch with the school support staff, which was essential to get an overall impression of how RDM worked in each school, and to arrange my contacts with researchers. From this, along with information gathered from each schools’ websites, I created an interview questionnaire as well as an online survey. These served to capture researchers’ and support staff’s experience with RDM. For me, conducting interviews was a new and valuable experience. I gained confidence, and I was inspired by the staff’s willingness to share their experience with RDM. I think that interviewing is a very useful skill to develop, because finding out what school staff think and what they need is important in almost every sector of library work.

From the interviews and surveys, I also learnt a lot about researchers’ different practices and challenges in the context of research data management. I analysed the responses and documented my findings in reports for IS and school support staff. Unfortunately, my internship was too short for me to complete the tailored guidance part of the project, but I hope that my work will serve as a basis for the teams’ endeavours to further adapt their DMP support.

Summing everything up, my internship was an inspiring experience which was at times intense but also hugely enriching. This was due in large part to the fantastic team who were welcoming and supported me most effectively whenever needed (this is true, too, for my contact persons in the schools). I would have loved to learn even more about their various experiences, but, after all, I am really grateful for the opportunity I have been given to participate in their work and to learn so much about RDM.

Gero Schreier
Research Data Service Project Assistant
Librarian in training, University Library, University of Bern (Switzerland)

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Interning with the Research Data Service

For almost four months, I have been interning with the Research Data Service (RDS) as a project assistant. I decided to apply for the internship simply because I had received RDS support when I was developing a Research Data Management (RDM) plan for my PhD project and I also wanted to gain experience that would help me develop my professional skills. I was beyond thrilled when I was accepted!

Photo of a sunflower on a window ledge

The RDS team entry to the office sunflower-growing competition

The project I was involved in was called the Dealing With Data Use Case Videos Project. Its aim was to gain insights into the research data management (RDM) practice of data service users in all three Colleges at the University. My main role was to interview academic staff and PhD students as well as support staff about their experiences of RDM and their views on the tools available at the University such as DataStore, DataShare, DataVault and so on. The insights gathered from the interview are valuable for the RDS team to improve their services. For my personal development, interviewing the participants has helped me to gain my confidence and hone my skills which I can directly apply for my PhD research. I also enjoyed learning about different research projects beyond my field and felt inspired by the participants, particularly in how they share their data publicly to advance research on their topic. Another part of my internship (which I found most interesting) was to conduct video interviews. I had the chance to work directly with the Video Production Team of Communications and Marketing and visited their studio. This was my first experience being involved in video filming and editing.

Photo of nameplate on the desk which says Clarissa

My nameplate on my desk

So, my internship now has come to end, but I won’t forget this amazing experience. I was very welcomed to be part of the team, had my own desk, joined some meetings and even out for lunch and drinks! It’s been truly a pleasure to work with such a great team and I can’t thank the RDS team enough for the opportunity to learn so much about the RDS and to extend my knowledge about RDM.

Catherine Clarissa
Research Data Service Project Assistant
Postgraduate Research Student
Nursing Studies, University of Edinburgh

Photo of the office window view showing Edinburgh Castle obscured by a crane

The view from the office window

 

 

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Data Carpentry Workshop, Spring 2018

Following on from the success of previous Carpentry workshops we have hosted, the Research Data Support team organised another two day Data Carpentry workshop on 12th /13th June 2018 in the David Hume Tower teaching studio.

Students at work on the Data Carpentry workshop held in David Hume Tower teaching studio.

Data Carpentry workshops focus on introductory computational skills needed for data management and analysis in all domains of research. If you have never heard of ‘Data Carpentry’, ‘Software Carpentry’ or ‘the Carpentries’ we suggest you go take a look around the Data Carpentry and Software Sustainability Institute websites. While the ‘Data Carpentries’ follow a similar theme, the lessons can vary between different workshops, depending on the level of the learners and their requirements. The topics covered were:

  • Data Cleaning with OpenRefine
  • Programming and Data Visualisation with R
  • Relational DataBases and SQL

All the sessions received positive feedback from students on both content and delivery. The headliner for the workshop was undoubtedly the R programming: two R sessions delivered over Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning by the lead instructor Edward Wallace. Edward is based at King Buildings and uses R in his own research into RNA-protein interactions. He is clearly a great teacher as the feedback on these sessions indicated it was really well delivered and the pace of the course was just right. That is not easy to do when you have such a wide range of students from all disciplines.

This course was fully booked within a few hours of being advertised and there remained over 50 people registered on the waiting list indicating the demand for these data handling courses. The overwhelming feedback from the course was “more R training please!”. Keep a lookout for advertising on the RDS website and the university Events booking as more Carpentry training is on its way!

Thanks from the Research Data Support team to all the excellent helpers and trainers for making this event possible. All the trainers and helpers for this workshop were Edinburgh University staff.

Some of the students, teachers and helpers on the June 2018 Data Carpentry Workshop.

Trainers: Edward Wallace, Giacomo Peru, Manos Farsarakis, Lucia Micheilin.

Helpers: Rosey Bayne, Sean McGeever, Mario Antonioletti, Daniel Robertson, Evgenij Belikov, Jennifer Daub.

This workshop was organised in collaboration by Research Data Service, EPCC, ARCHER and the Software Sustainability Institute.

Jennifer Daub
Research Data Support
Library & University Collections

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New team members, new team!

Time has passed, so inevitably we have said goodbye to some and hello to others on the Research Data Support team. Amongst other changes, all of us are now based together in Library & University Collections – organisationally, that is, while remaining located in Argyle House with the rest of the Research Data Service providers such as IT Infrastructure. (For an interview with the newest team member there, David Fergusson, Head of Research Services, see this month’s issue of BITS.)

So two teams have come together under Research Data Support as part of Library Research Support, headed by Dominic Tate in L&UC. Those of us leaving EDINA and Data Library look back on a rich legacy dating back to the early 1980s when the Data Library was set up as a specialist function within computing services. We are happy to become ‘mainstreamed’ within the Library going forward, as research data support becomes an essential function of academic librarianship all over the world*. Of course we will continue to collaborate with EDINA for software engineering requirements and new projects.

Introducing –

Jennifer Daub has worked in a range of research roles, from lab-based parasite genomics at the University of Edinburgh to bioinformatics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Prior to joining the team, Jennifer provided data management support to users of clinical trials management software across the UK and is experienced managing sensitive data.

As Research Data Service Assistant, Jennifer has joined veterans Pauline Ward and Bob Sanders in assisting users with DataShare and Data Library as well as the newer DataVault and Data Safe Haven functions, and additionally providing general support and training along with the rest of the team.

Catherine Clarissa is doing her PhD in Nursing Studies at the University of Edinburgh. Her study is looking at patients’ and staff experiences of early mobilisation during the course of mechanical ventilation in an Intensive Care Unit. She has good knowledge of good practice in Research Data Management that has been expanded by taking training from the University and by developing a Data Management Plan for her own research.

As Project Officer she is working closely with project manager Pauline Ward on the Video Case Studies project, funded by the IS Innovation Fund over the next few months. We have invited her to post to the blog about the project soon!

Last but not least, Martin Donnelly will be joining us from the Digital Curation Centre, where he has spent the last decade helping research institutions raise their data management capabilities via a mixture of paid consultancy and pro bono assistance. He has a longstanding involvement in data management planning and policy, and interests in training, advocacy, holistic approaches to managing research outputs, and arts and humanities data.

Before joining Edinburgh in 2008, Martin worked at the University of Glasgow, where he was involved in European cultural heritage and digital preservation projects, and the pre-merger Edinburgh College of Art where he coordinated quality and accreditation processes. He has acted as an expert reviewer for European Commission data management plans on multiple occasions, and is a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute.

We look forward to Martin joining the team next month, where he will take responsibility as Research Data Support Manager, providing expertise and line management support to the team as well as senior level support to the service owner, Robin Rice, and to the Data Safe Haven Manager, Cuna Ekmekcioglu – who recently shifted her role from lead on training and outreach. Kerry Miller, Research Data Support Officer, is actively picking up her duties and making new contacts throughout the university to find new avenues for the team’s outreach and training delivery.

*The past and present rise of data librarianship within academic libraries is traced in the first chapter of The Data Librarian’s Handbook, by Robin Rice and John Southall.

Robin Rice
Data Librarian and Head, Research Data Support
Library & University Collections

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