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...