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

Making the most of benefits evidence and metrics

Posted by Stella Fowler | 0 Comments

Having now reflected in depth on the JISC Benefits and Evidence workshop on 29/30 November, I have a number of learning points to share.


Key general impacts of the workshop for me were to:
·         Consolidate the distinction between output and benefit.
·         Influence my thinking around final report structure and capture of information from objectives to outputs (and the processes between) to outcomes, tangible benefits (evidence metrics), and opportunities around adding value to the project (business case) to identify next objectives and outputs to realise more benefits.
·         Influence policy shaping. I now propose to segment the layer beyond institutional directive ‘principles’ to component responsibilities within UWE (Library, RBI, IT) with a view to translating this to a business RDM programme in the mid-term. This is beyond project scope but within project frame of influence through the Steering Group and final report. This will be the focus of the work post-project.
·         Prompt future use of admin workflow to cost distinct future / additional activities required to be good at RDM at UWE, owners of these, resource, priorities, etc. + the need to re-engineer workflow to create time savings to make new (additional) required tasks as smooth as possible.


We have done a lot of work on benefits here at UWE, summarised in our benefits matrix which considers risks, benefits, stakeholders and distinct elements of the research process at UWE. This has played a key part in enabling the clarity of benefits and evidence achieved prior to the workshop. However, I found peer project presentations at the workshop added enormously to my own assimilation of approaches. In particular Bill Worthington’s assessment of three possible approaches to benefits and evidence gathering and Stephen Gray’s tri-level service standard approach to the business case helped cement my own understanding of UWE’s needs.


It’s fair to say that the audience for the benefit metrics and business case is not the same. While the final report benefits metrics serve to measure progress and impact in JISC programme terms, the business case needs to persuade senior management of the benefits of RDM support services. The end of the JISC programme journey should be just the start of the university journey. So it’s crucial to focus on the actual UWE demand for RDM, internal readiness and a spirit of “now we need to” rather than “job done”.


In addition, the role of peer progress should not be underestimated. While it’s clear there is no one-size fits all RDM approach, there are clear drivers that define a typical pathway, starting with:
1)    An open data environment leading to
2)    (Changes to) funder requirements (especially EPSRC and RCUK) leading to
3)    Awareness of implications of these
4)    University identified need for RDM policy to ensure compliance leading to
5)    Eligibility for future funding leading to
6)    Continued bid submission.


This requires strategic vision and buy-in to something of a basic model for RDM. In January we will review the original project business case for the project to challenge and support UWE thinking about its own RDM drivers. After all, points 2 to end are cyclical and are likely only to be interrupted by a change in 1. This is unlikely given current user momentum.


A stronger model is to complement compliance with:
7)    Better / good RDM practice leading to
8)    Some risk management leading to
9)    Bid success.


This needs a shift in RDM activities from the periphery to core researcher activity. This would be implemented by university awareness of the need to inform and train UWE researchers.


Stronger still is to complement better RDM practice with:
10) Best practice RDM leading to
11) Substantive risk mitigation (including data loss) leading to
12) Increased bid success leading to
13) More findable / citable research leading to
14) Increased global visibility of data assets leading to
15) Increased level of research awareness leading to
16) New opportunities leading to
17) Enhanced reputation.


This requires support (funding) to central services to facilitate, develop and support good researcher practice.


Now, how to relay this in the right documents...

JISC benefits and evidence workshop 29th - 30th November 2012

Posted by Liz Holliday | 0 Comments
The UWE session one presentation is now available on the project website

Status update and benefits evidence gathering

Posted by Jennifer Crossley | 6 Comments
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?

MRD Programme Launch

Posted by Jennifer Crossley | 2 Comments
Really enjoyed last week's Programme Launch that I attended with Amanda Conway. It was a great opportunity to meet up with, and benefit from, other more experienced colleagues, and to make contact with other Strand A-ers. It was particularly nice to meet with colleagues from Research360 at Bath, Data.Bris at Bristol, and Open Exeter. Opportunities for South West support abound!

Highlights of the two days for me were the poster session, where I spent far too long talking to too few people (but made really valuable contacts), the session on benefits evidence gathering, and policy development and guidance/training materials. I now have pages of notes that I need to review so that I can pin down the key points and pass them onto our project manager and project officer when they start in post.

We were asked to blog about what our initial thoughts around benefits evidence gathering might be. Amanda and I need to catch up when she gets back from IDCC so that we can talk this through properly. Watch this space...