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Updates from the fourth meeting of the RDM Forum

Guest blog post by Ewa Lipinska

On 28th August members of the RDM Forum gathered in the stunning Old Library at the Department of Geography in the Old Infirmary building, to hear the latest updates from the Research Data Service team and discuss all things data. It’d been a good few months since the last time we met, so the event presented us with the perfect opportunity to catch up on new developments, network with colleagues working on RDM in different parts of the University, and prepare ourselves for the new academic year which will see the University take up a pivotal role in making Edinburgh the Data Capital of Europe.

We started off with an RDM update from Cuna Ekmekcioglu, who gave us an overview of developments to University research data services: the launch of interim DataVault long-term retention service, continuing development of Data Save Haven aimed at research projects dealing with sensitive data, and a new release of DataShare which will allow larger datasets. We also learned about RDM training courses planned for the new academic year, most of which can be booked via MyEd.

Next, Pauline Ward gave a presentation which went into a bit more detail about the DataVault service allowing researchers to comply with their funders’ requirements to preserve data for the long term in cases where the datasets cannot be made public. The current interim service requires a mediated deposit which can be done by contacting data-support[at]ed.ac.uk. Comprehensive guidance on how to prepare your data before storing it in DataVault can be found on the service website.

This was followed by a demonstration of the new Research Data Service promotional video which outlines the range of tools and support offered by the team, and which can be a very good resource for new members of staff who would like to find out about the types of services available. Diarmuid McDonnell who presented the video also gave us a quick overview of a recent project called Scoping Statistical Analysis Support, which looked at the demand for statistical analysis training for current postgraduate students. The final project report is full of current information about statistical training around the University.

We then went on to discuss the potential impact of data sharing, which tied in nicely with a recent panel discussion at Repository Fringe 2017 that focused on how repositories and associated services can feature in supporting researchers to achieve and evidence impact in preparation for the next Research Excellence Framework exercise (live notes from the day are available). Pauline Ward presented examples of popular public datasets by Edinburgh University researchers, described ways to access information about their usage, and talked about how datasets can be shared more widely to engage external audiences, which may lead to potential impact. Even though on their own research data usage statistics are not enough to demonstrate significant impact beyond academia, they are a good (though perhaps still slightly overlooked) starting point for tracking how and by whom datasets are used, and how that benefits individuals and communities.

The meeting concluded with a presentation by Robin Rice, who shared with us the draft Research Data Service Roadmap. As the goals set out in the previous roadmap have now largely been achieved, the time has come to look to the future and identify new objectives for the next few years. It was interesting to hear about the team’s long-term plans which include unification of the service (aiming to ensure the best user experience and interoperability between systems), advocacy of data management planning, support around active data, enhanced data stewardship, improved communications and more training opportunities.

Overall, it was a very useful and informative meeting, and I’d very much encourage anyone interested in research data management and sharing to join us next time. In the meantime Cuna’s slides, together with lots of other useful resources and points for discussion, are available on the RDM Sharepoint (access on request).

Ewa Lipinska
Research Outcomes Co-Ordinator
College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

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Scoping Statistical Analysis Support

The following is a post by our former PhD Intern, Cindy Nelson-Viljoen, where she outlines her experience of working on a significant Data Library project supported by the Innovation Fund.

Scoping Statistical Analysis Support, supported by the Information Services Innovation Fund and managed by Diarmuid McDonnell, was a six-month project that aimed to identify gaps in statistical analysis training provision at the University of Edinburgh, and the potential role of the Data Library in addressing these gaps. The focus was on understanding how statistical analysis support and training is conducted across University of Edinburgh schools; scoping existing support mechanisms and models for students, researchers and teachers; and identifying services and support that would satisfy existing or future demand.

The activities of the project included designing an online questionnaire of research students, and to engage with and interview faculty (researchers and teachers) with knowledge of and responsibility for quantitative methods/statistical analysis support in their respective school. As part of the project, the Data Library employed a PhD intern (Cindy Nelson-Viljoen) via the Employ.ed scheme, and offered an excellent opportunity for Cindy to develop her knowledge of social science methods, statistical analysis and support, and research data management in a collaborative cross-disciplinary setting.

The project’s findings will inform future planning of statistical analysis support and training within the Data Library, ISG and the University. The report describing the project, methodology, findings and recommendations is available at http://edin.ac/2hnJYPb.

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New video about the Research Data Service

The Research Data Service team is delighted to announce a new resource to help researchers and research support staff become familiar with the wide range of tools and support that we offer:

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The video, produced by Senate Media, outlines how the University of Edinburgh Research Data Service can help you access, manage, store, share and preserve your research data. The permanent location for the video on our service website is: http://edin.ac/2hbswRw.

Robin Rice
Data Librarian & Head, Research Data Support
EDINA and Data Library

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Reflections on Repository Fringe 2017

The following is a guest post by Mick Eadie, Research Information Management Officer at University of Glasgow, on his impressions of Repository Fringe 2017.

Capture1From the Arts

The first day afternoon 10×10 (lightning talk) sessions had many of the presentations on Research Data topics.  We heard talks about repositories in the arts; evolving research data policy at national and pan-national level; and archival storage and integrations between research data repositories and other systems like Archivematica, EPrints and Pure.

Repositories and their use in managing research data in the arts was kicked off with Nicola Siminson from the Glasgow School of Art with her talk on What RADAR did next: developing a peer review process for research plans.  Nicola explained how EPrints has been developed to maximise the value of research data content at GSA by making it more visually appealing and better able to deal with a multitude of non-text based objects and artefacts.   She then outlined GSA’s recently developed Annual Research Planning (ARP) tool which is an EPrints add-on that allows the researcher to provide information on their current and planned research activities and potential impact.

GSA have built on this functionality to enable the peer-reviewing of ARPs, which means they can be shared and commented on by others.   This has led to significant uptake in the use of the repository by researchers as they are keen to keep their research profile up-to-date, which has in turn raised the repository profile and increased data deposits.  There are also likely to be cost-benefits to the institution by using an existing system to help to manage research information as well as outputs, as it keeps content accessible from one place and means the School doesn’t need to procure separate systems.

On Policy

We heard from Martin Donnelly from the DCC on National Open Data and Open Science Policies in Europe.  Martin talked about the work done by the DCC and SPARC Europe in assessing policies from across Europe to assess the methodologies used by countries and funders to promote the concept of Open Data across the continent.   They found some interesting variants across countries: some funder driven, others more national directives, plans and roadmaps.  It was interesting to see how a consensus was emerging around best practice and how the EU through its Horizon 2020 Open Research Data Pilot seemed to be emerging as a driver for increased take up and action.

Storage, Preservation and Integration

No research data day would be complete without discussing archival storage and preservation.  Pauline Ward from Edinburgh University gave us an update on Edinburgh DataVault: Local implementation of Jisc DataVault: the value of testing. She highlighted the initial work done at national level by Jisc and the research data Spring project, and went on to discuss the University of Edinburgh’s local version of Data Vault which integrates with their CRIS system (Pure) – allowing a once only upload of the data which links to metadata in the CRIS and creates an archival version of the data.  Pauline also hinted at future integration with DropBox which will be interesting to see develop.

Alan Morrison from the University of Strathclyde continued on the systems integration and preservation theme by giving as assessment of Data Management & Preservation using PURE and Archivematica. He gave us the background to Strathclyde’s systems and workflows between Pure and Archivematica, highlighting some interesting challenges in dealing with file-formats in the STEM subjects which are often proprietary and non-standard.

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