‘Protecting sensitive data’: new MANTRA unit now available

The Research Data Support team are pleased to announce a new update to MANTRA, the free and open online research data management training course.

The new ‘Protecting sensitive data’ module has been created from scratch, replacing the previous ‘Data protection, rights and access’ unit to provide an up-to-date guide for researchers working with sensitive and personal data.

MANTRA is designed to give post-graduate students, early career researchers, and information professionals the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with research data.

The ‘Protecting sensitive data’ unit considers the ethical and legal contexts for conducting research with sensitive data, including information and guidance on:

  • What makes data sensitive?
  • What UK and European data protection laws mean for research
  • Research ethics, informed consent and consent documentation
  • Approvals processes and accessing restricted data
  • Safeguarding sensitive data, including data retention limits, access controls and anonymisation
  • Data protection training

MANTRA is designed to be approachable and informative, and incorporates text and video content plus quizzes, interactive exercises and a ‘further reading’ section.

We hope you find the new content interesting and useful, and we welcome comments on the new unit, as well as feedback on the other seven MANTRA modules.

Finally, the RDS team are currently working on a series of further updates to MANTRA which will be rolled out over the coming weeks, and information about these releases will be posted on this blog and the RDS Twitter account.

Bob Sanders

MANTRA, Lead Editor

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Research data management in a time of quarantine

Covid-19 has shaken up our world, and disrupted University life as we know it. But in terms of a silver lining, it has provided opportunities for open data / open research to prove their worth, in the search for a vaccine and other approaches to managing and treating the complications of the virus. SPARC Europe have collected a number of case studies on Open Science and the Coronavirus. If you’ve been working on Coronavirus research here at Edinburgh, we’d love to hear from you, especially if there is anything we might be able to do to help. So far we have engaged with researchers in all three Colleges studying, or hoping to study, an aspect of COVID-19; about handling sensitive data, archiving or sharing relevant data, or bidding for new research.

How has it affected us in Research Data Support?

  • We are all working from home, although some of us have unavoidable childcare responsibilities which may slow down responses;
  • In terms of answering Research Data Management (RDM) enquiries it’s business as usual. UniDesk has been a little quieter than usual, but we are receiving more complex queries as researchers adjust to the new reality;
  • Data Management Plan (DMP) assistance is business as usual, and we are now set up on Teams for video consultations – let us know if you’d be interested in one of these;
  • During the lockdown we will be refreshing our existing Research Data MANTRA training and directing research staff and students to this resource in place of our face-to-face training, which has been temporarily suspended. If you have a question or would like to discuss any aspect of RDM or Data Management Planning please contact the team using data-support@ed.ac.uk to setup an online consultation.

From the researcher’s point of view, in some cases collecting and processing or analysing new data may be more difficult than it usually is, and in many cases impossible without access to lab equipment or direct contact with research subjects. So why not turn your attention to other elements of RDM, such as preparing older data for deposit, and linking it with your published research papers to fortify the scholarly record?

What can you do?

  • Use the time away from the lab or the field to tidy up data you’ve already collected or created (and don’t forget to attach metadata/contextual information!);
  • Deposit completed data in DataShare (or a disciplinary repository, with metadata recorded in Pure);
  • If you have deposited in DataShare before, check the usage stats and AltMetrics feed to see whether it has been used by others;
  • Create an ORCID (unique, persistent global researcher’s ID), and link it with your Pure account to ensure you stay linked with your outputs throughout your career;
  • Invite us to comment on your DMP, or get in touch about anything else RDM-related;
  • Let us know if you’d like to arrange any bespoke training or awareness-raising sessions;
  • Take some or all of the MANTRA course and let us know if you have any comments.

Martin Donnelly
Research Data Support Manager
Library and University Collections

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Training researchers for a software and data-intensive world with Edinburgh Carpentries

This is guest post from Giacomo Peru and the EdCarp Committee (https://edcarp.github.io/committee/). Sections of this post were published previously on the EPCC blog.

EdCarpLogo

EdCarpLogo

The Edinburgh Carpentries (EdCarp) is a training initiative, which offers the Carpentries computing and data skills curriculum in Edinburgh. The workshops train researchers on fundamental skills needed for conducting efficient, open, and reproducible research. The EdCarp team comprises staff and student volunteers from across disciplines, academic units, and career stages.

Since 2018, EdCarp has organised 25 workshops across the academic institution, training over 300 staff and students in data cleaning, manipulation, visualisation and version control methods using tools such as R, python, Unix shell, Git, SQL and OpenRefine. Courses are free to participants and are oversubscribed very quickly. We are now rolling out our 2020 schedule and announcing workshops.

EdCarp are working to establish collaborations with other organisations, external and internal to the university: the Scottish Funding Council, the Institute for Academic Development and the Data Driven Innovation programme.

EdCarp can work with your academic unit or doctoral training program to help promote the fundamental data skills that your colleagues need.

A crucial aspect of EdCarp and their training model is the participation and voluntary commitment of the community, where trainees go to become helpers, helpers to instructors and so on.  EdCarp are always looking for new people willing to help, in any capacity; please sign up here if you would like to be kept updated and/or get involved: https://eepurl.com/gl4MsX.

 

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A visit from the data jungle: My internship in research data management

This is a guest post from Dr. Tamar Israeli, who completed a work/study internship with the Research Data Support team last Autumn. A link to her report is available below.

Recently, there has been a rumor in Israel that research data should be managed. As a librarian and information specialist working in an academic institution, I decided to check if this was true.

When looking for a place for an internship on the role of the library in research data management (RDM), I was happy to find out that the University of Edinburgh RDM support team has a good reputation. I remember enjoying very much my visit to Edinburgh 30 years ago so I was very happy to get Robin Rice & Martin Donnelly’s kind invitation so I could boldly go where… I had already been before.

During September 2019, I worked with the RDM support team, attended some of the staff meetings and participated in one of the RDM trainings.  As part of my internship we carried out a small scale study. The purpose of the study was mainly to understand what are the barriers that prevent researchers from using tools and services provided to them by the university when collaborating with data.

For that purpose, I interviewed six researchers from different schools and disciplines. The researchers were open and cooperative and the interviews were very interesting and insightful. If you’d like to learn about the way researchers collaborate and what influences their decision to use a particular tool or service, here is a link to our report: http://dx.doi.org/10.7488/era/2

Many thanks to the support team for their invitation and warm hospitality. It was one of the most pleasant months of my life.

Tamar Israeli
Librarian and information specialist
Western Galilee College

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