Research Data Management Training for University of Edinburgh staff and students, Spring 2019

Following on from our blog post on the benefits of RDM training which was posted on the 15th of November, we have scheduled our in-person training courses for the Spring 2019 semester. A description of each course and its intended audience can be found on our Training and support resources webpage, alongside details of online training offerings. Courses can usually be booked through MyEd Event Booking approximately four weeks beforehand.

Course Dates & Times Location
Creating a Data Management Plan 16/01/2019@10:30-12:30 Seminar Room 3, Chancellor’s Building (Little France) Map
28/02/2019@14:00-16:00 Murchison House, Room G.12 (Kings Buildings) Map
27/03/2019@14:00-16:00 Appleton Tower, Room 2.07 (Central Area) Map
Working with Personal and Sensitive Data 13/02/2019@14:00-16:00 Seminar Room 3, Chancellor’s Building (Little France) Map
21/03/2019@10:00-12:00 G.69 Joseph Black Building (Kings Buildings) Map
01/05/2019@14:00-16:00 High School Yards, Classroom 4 (Central Area) Map
Good Practice in Research Data Management 24/01/2019@13:30-16:30 Murchison House, Room G.12 (Kings Buildings) Map
22/02/2019@ TBC TBC
05/03/2019@13:30-16:30 EW11, Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street (Central Area) Map
05/04/2019@09:30-12:30 Seminar Room 6, Chancellor’s Building (Little France) Map
Managing Your Research Data 17/01/2019@10:00-12:00 Room B.09, Institute for Academic Development, 1 Morgan Lane, (Holyrood) Map
05/02/2019@10:00-12:00 Lister Learning and Teaching Centre – Room 1.3 (Central Area) Map
15/03/2019@10:00-12:00 Seminar Room 5, Chancellor’s Building (Little France) Map
12/04/2019@10:00-12:00 Room B.09, Institute for Academic Development, 1 Morgan Lane, (Holyrood) Map
25/04/2019@14:00-16:00 G.69 Joseph Black Building (Kings Buildings) Map
18/06/2019@10:00-12:00 Room B.09, Institute for Academic Development, 1 Morgan Lane, (Holyrood) Map
Handling Data Using SPSS 12/02/2019@13:30-16:30 Room 1.08, First Floor, Main Library, George Square (Central Area) Map
02/04/2019@13:30-16:30 EW10, Argyle House, 3 Lady Lawson Street (Central Area) Map
Data cleaning with OpenRefine 07/02/2019@13:30-16:30 Lister Learning and Teaching Centre ,2.14 – Teaching Studio, (Central Area) Map

Kerry Miller
Research Data Support Officer
Research Data Service
Library and University Collections

 

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Personal data: What does GDPR mean for your research data?

It falls upon me to cover the ‘hot topic’ of research data and GDPR (European privacy legislation) just before a cold winter holiday break. This makes me feel like the last speaker in a session that has overrun – ‘So, I’m the only thing between you and your lunch …’ But none of this changes the fact that the General Data Protection Legislation – codified into British Law by the UK Data Protection Act, 2018 – is a very important factor for researchers working with human subjects to take into account.

This is why the topic of GDPR and data protection arose out of the case studies project that my colleagues completed this summer. This blog post introduces the last in the series of these RDM case studies: Personal data: What does GDPR mean for your research data?

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Dr. Niamh Moore talks about how research has evolved to take data protection and ethics into account, focusing on the time-honoured consent form, and the need to take “a more granular approach” to consent: subjects can grant their consent to be in a study, but also to have their data shared–in the form of interview transcripts, audio or video files, diaries, etc., and can choose which of these they consent to and which they do not.

Consent remains a key for working with human subjects ethically and legally, but at the University of Edinburgh and other HEIs, the legal basis for processing research data by academic staff may not be consent, it may simply be that research is the public task of the University. This shifts consent into the ethical column, while also ensuring fair, transparent, and lawful processing as part of GDPR principles.

I was invited to contribute to the video as well, from a service provider’s perspective because our Research Data Support team advises and trains researchers on working with personal and sensitive data. One of my messages was of reassurance, that actually researchers already follow ethical norms that put them in good stead for being compliant with the Law.

Indeed, this is a reason that the EU lawmakers were able to be convinced that certain derogations (exceptions) could be allowed for in “the processing of personal data for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes,” as long as appropriate safeguards are used.

Our short video brings out some examples, but we could not cover everything a researcher needs to know about the GDPR – the University of Edinburgh’s Data Protection Officer has written authoritative guidance on research and data protection legislation for our staff and students and has also created a research-specific resource on the LEARN platform. Our research data support team also offers face to face training on Working with Personal and Sensitive Data which has been updated for GDPR.

I have tried to summarise how researchers can comply with the GDPR/UK Data Protection Act, 2018 while making use of our Research Data Service in this new Quick Guide–Research Data Management and GDPR: Do’s and Don’ts. Comments are welcome on the usefulness and accuracy of this advice!

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

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New video: the benefits of RDM training

A big part of the role of the Research Data Service is to provide a mixture of online and (general/tailored) in-person training courses on Research Data Management (RDM) to all University research staff and students.

In this video, PhD student Lis talks about her experiences of accessing both our online training and attending some of our face-to-face courses. Lis emphasises how valuable both of these can be to new PhD candidates, who may well be applying RDM good practice for the first time in their career.

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It is interesting to see Lis reflect on how these training opportunities made her think about how she handles data on a daily basis, bringing a realisation that much of her data was sensitive and therefore needed to be safeguarded in an appropriate manner.

Our range of regularly scheduled face-to-face training courses are run through both Digital Skills and the Institute of Academic Development – these are open to all research staff and students. In addition, we also create and provide bespoke training courses for schools and research groups based on their specific needs. Online training is delivered via MANTRA and the Research Data Management MOOC which we developed in collaboration with the University of North Carolina.

In the video Lis also discusses her experiences using some RDS tools and services, such as DataStore for storing and backing-up her research data to prevent data loss, and contacting our team for timely support in writing a Data Management Plan for her project.

If you would like to learn more about any of the things Lis mentions in her interview you should visit the RDS website, or to discuss bespoke training for your school or research centre / group please contact us via data-support@ed.ac.uk.

Kerry Miller
Research Data Support Officer
Library and University Collections
The University of Edinburgh

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Greater Expectations? Writing and supporting Data Management Plans

“A blueprint for what you’re going to do”

This series of videos was arranged before I joined the Research Data Service team, otherwise I’d no doubt have had plenty to say myself on a range of data-related topics! But the release today of this video – “How making a Data Management Plan can help you” – provides an opportunity to offer a few thoughts and reflections on the purpose and benefits of data management planning (DMP), along with the support that we offer here at Edinburgh.

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“Win that funding”

We have started to hear anecdotal tales of projects being denied funding due – in part at least – to inadequate or inappropriate data management plans. While these stories remain relatively rare, the direction of travel is clear: we are moving towards greater expectations, more scrutiny, and ultimately into the risk of incurring sanctions for failure to manage and share data in line with funder policies and community standards: as Niamh Moore puts it, various stakeholders are paying “much more attention to data management”. From the researcher’s point of view this ‘new normal’ is a significant change, requiring a transition that we should not underestimate. The Research Data Service exists to support researchers in normalising research data management (RDM) and embedding it as a core scholarly norm and competency, developing skills and awareness and building broader comfort zones, helping them adjust to these new expectations.

“Put the time in…”

My colleague Robin Rice mentions the various types of data management planning support available to Edinburgh’s research community, citing the online self-directed MANTRA training module, our tailored version of the DCC’s DMPonline tool, and bespoke support from experienced staff. Each of these requires an investment of time. MANTRA requires the researcher to take time to work through it, and took the team a considerable amount of time to produce in order to provide the researcher with a concise and yet wide-ranging grounding in the major constituent strands of RDM.  DMPonline took hundreds and probably thousands of hours of developer time and input from a broad range of stakeholders to reach its current levels of stability and maturity and esteem. This investment has resulted in a tool that makes the process of creating a data management plan much more straightforward for researchers. PhD student Lis is quick to note the direct support that she was able to draw upon from the Research Data Service staff at the University, citing quick response times, fluent communication, and ongoing support as the plan evolves and responds to change. Each of these are examples of spending time to save time, not quite Dusty Springfield’s “taking time to make time”, but not a million miles away.

There is a cost to all of this, of course, and we should be under no illusions that we are fortunate at the University of Edinburgh to be in a position to provide and make use of this level of tailored service, and we are working towards a goal of RDM related costs being stably funded to the greatest degree possible, through a combination of project funding and sustained core budget.

“You may not have thought of everything”

Plans are not set in stone. They can, and indeed should, be kept updated in order to reflect reality, and the Horizon 2020 guidelines state that DMPs should be updated “as the implementation of the project progresses and when significant changes occur”, e.g. new data; changes in consortium policies (e.g. new innovation potential, decision to file for a patent); changes in consortium composition and external factors (such as new consortium members joining or old members leaving).

Essentially, data management planning provides a framework for thinking things through (Niamh uses the term “a series of prompts”, and Lis “a structure”. As Robin says, you won’t necessarily think of everything beforehand – a plan is a living document which will change over time – but the important things is to document and explain the decisions that are taken in order for others (and your future self is among these others!) to understand your work. A good approach that I’ve seen first-hand while reviewing DMPs for the European Commission is to leave place markers to identify deferred decisions, so that these details are not forgotten about (This is also a good reason for using a template – a empty heading means an issue that has not yet been addressed, whereas it’s deceptively easy to read free text DMPs and get the sense that everything is in good shape, only to find on more rigorous inspection that important information is missing, or that some responses are ambiguous.)

“Cutting and pasting”

It has often been said that plans are less important than the process of planning, and I’ve been historically resistant to sharing plans for “benchmarking” which is often just another word for copying. However Robin is right to point out that there are some circumstances where copying and pasting boilerplate text makes sense, for example when referring to standard processes or services, where it makes no sense – and indeed can in some cases be unnecessarily risky – to duplicate effort or reinvent the wheel. That said, I would still generally urge researchers to resist the temptation to do too much benchmarking. By all means use standards and cite norms, but also think things through for yourself (and in conjunction with your colleagues, project partners, support staff and other stakeholders etc) – and take time to communicate with your contemporaries and the future via your data management plan… or record?

“The structure and everything”

Because data management plans are increasingly seen as part of the broader scholarly record, it’s worth concluding with some thoughts on how all of this hangs together. Just as Open Science depends on a variety of Open Things, including publications, data and code, the documentation that enables us to understand it also has multiple strands. Robin talks about the relationship between data management and consent, and as a reviewer it is certainly reassuring to see sample consent agreement forms when assessing data management plans, but other plans and records are also relevant, such as Data Protection Impact Assessments, Software Management Plans and other outputs management processes and products. Ultimately the ideal (and perhaps idealistic) picture is of an interlinked, robust, holistic and transparent record documenting and evidencing all aspects of the research process, explaining rights and supporting re-use, all in the overall service of long-lasting, demonstrably rigorous, highest-quality scholarship.

Martin Donnelly
Research Data Support Manager
Library and University Collections
University of Edinburgh

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