Managing Research Data: a pilot study in Health and Life Sciences

Status update and benefits evidence gathering

Posted by Jennifer Crossley | 6 Comments
12Jan2012
As of last week, Liz Holliday has joined us as our full time project officer. Liz is already making headway in assessing which elements of previous projects we can re-use here at UWE, and will be out meeting researchers on Friday when she takes our poster to the Centre for Research in Biosciences annual review.

Stella Fowler will be joining us on February 2nd as our project manager, and then our team will finally be running at full strength. I'm sure you can look forward to more frequent postings from then.

So, to benefits and evidence gathering. What seemed fairly straighforward in Nottingham has caused a few furrowed brows here of late. Selecting areas where we would like to be able to demonstrate impact is not too hard, there are loads of candidates there. The problem comes in deciding how to actually measure the impact, and getting something that is workable. This is where we are at currently:

Improved data management plans and policies. At an institutional level, you could argue that any step forward in this area is a measurable benefit, as currently there is no overarching policy. By the end of the project there should be at least a draft institutional policy available. We are thinking of bringing work in this area forward in our project timeline to be closer to having a ratified policy by March 2013. Of course, the real benefits of this are longer term, and will depend on the policy being successfully implemented and accepted.

At a department or project level this could take a bit more legwork. If current practice is that there is little planning or policy in place, then improvements and benefits should be easy to chart. If however there are already plans and policies in place we will need to be able to chart any benefits: the UKDA scoring system might be useful here if it becomes publicly available, or a benchmarking tool to track this over time.

Increasing data management skills.  Is there a way to measure confidence/comptence in researchers' data management skills? We would hope that an initial self assessment would show improvement after use of online guidance and support, once it's available. Also, we would anticipate having data management training included in the Researcher Development Programme here are UWE, and would monitor feedback from that, although the benefits of this would be longer term.

Better knowledge of the research data landscape, meaning a better awareness of how researchers manage their data, and how the university supports researchers in this activity. This should be measureable using a benchmarking tool.

Use of Eprints to support data management activity
. I'm not sure that this is a benefit in the strictest sense, but the JISC community might find it helpful to know how we have fared in using Eprints for this purpose. And I'm wondering if there are any other projects who are planning to use Eprints who might like to join us on this somehow?