Yesterday I was part of an RDM session as part of ‘IT Focus Week’. The discussion identified some of the challenges involved, for example facing the potential of what ‘open data’ may mean for the researcher and the institution, and the variations in technical solutions required to meet a range of researcher needs, either to carry out research or meet funder requirements.
Perhaps the most immediate series of questions from this however concerned how to reach engage people, how to establish and maintain communication. I think all who know anything about RDM realise that it isn’t sexy. Let’s face it, it isn’t easy to whip up enthusiasm amongst ‘the public’, but it is something which affects many and raises important challenges.
One of the answers is probably embedding communication within existing channels such as PhD training. As an example we have scheduled a session about research planning, and data planning within the Social Science PhD training schedule in a few weeks’ time.
There is something of a dilemma here in that resources are very limited to do this, but it is likely that we need to establish a variety of channels of communication. Our RDM website for example (www.le.ac.uk/researchdata) does as much as it can to point to a range of information and support but we need to consider how effective that is. Although the session yesterday wasn’t blessed by a large turnout perhaps but how would you measure its effectiveness if one person was prompted to address data management in a different way.
Perhaps most effective is a one-to-one discussion with a researcher in the context of carrying out research – I’ve found such discussions really useful. This presents challenges though in the resource needed, the incentive for researchers to prompt a discussion, awareness that there is someone at the University who could have such a discussion.
I think it also prompts questions more broadly, notably should we/how could we formalise data management planning as part of research planning and application?