‘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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Updated MANTRA content: Research data in context

The Research Data Support team is pleased to announce the launch of the first in a series of updates to MANTRA, the free and open online research data management training course.

The first updated module ‘Research data in context’ (previously ‘Research data explained’) is now live on the MANTRA site and provides an introduction to research data, alongside detail on the contexts in which data are generated, and the challenges presented by big data in society.

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.

Since launching in 2011, MANTRA has been through a number of significant rewrites to keep up with current trends, and over 10,000 different learners have visited MANTRA in the last academic year.

The ‘Research data in context’ module has been substantially revised in order to:

  • remove dated and obsolete content;
  • simplify and improve the readability of existing material;
  • add information on data literacy and data science.

The changes in this module include:

  • Revised pages: Introduction; Why is research data management important?; What are data?; What are research data?; Data as research output; Module Summary; Next & further reading.
  • New pages: Data in society; Data Science; Video: machine learning; Data literacy and skills.

A change log detailing all changes in this release is available on request from the Research Data Support team (data-support@ed.ac.uk).

We hope you find this update interesting and useful and welcome any feedback you may have.

Further MANTRA updates are forthcoming, focusing on FAIR data and newer data protection legislation and we will announce these in future blog posts.

Bob Sanders
Research Data Support

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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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Research Data MANTRA gets a refresh

Research Data MANTRA updates

MANTRA, the free online training course which provides guidelines for good practice in research data management (RDM), has recently been refreshed. The course content remains applicable to all research disciplines, and is particularly appropriate for postgraduate students and early career researchers who would like to learn more about managing their research data.

The latest release helps ensure that content from each of the eight learning modules remains up-to-date, with interactive elements across all units being revised to make them more user friendly, and new content added to some units.

Additionally, as part of the CEPAL, United Nations project some video content used within MANTRA has been translated. Claudia Vilches and Gabriela Andaur from Hernán Santa Cruz Library (Santiago, Chile) have helpfully translated several of the video interviews with research staff, and these can now be viewed with Spanish subtitles within MANTRA or on our Youtube channel, helping to widen accessibility to these training materials for researchers outside the UK. Please contact us if you wish to translate any of the MANTRA materials.

MANTRA learning units now available via Zenodo

In addition to being a free-of-charge online learning resource, all content from MANTRA is openly available for use and re-use by others. For those interested in developing their own RDM training materials based on MANTRA content, all MANTRA units (along with four sets of data handling exercises) are now available for direct download from the Zenodo repository’s RDM Open Training Materials community. The eight individual MANTRA units were created using open source software Xerte Online Toolkits and units can be imported and edited in Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) such as Moodle. All that we ask is for attribution according to our CC-BY licence.

Content from a number of shorter MANTRA ‘taster’ units is also openly available from Zenodo. These provide an overview of RDM in four very short modules which can be edited so as to add information about local RDM support services, before deploying locally in a VLE or on the Web.

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