Written by Elli Papadopoulou and originally posted on 31 May 2019 on the Research Data Alliance blog.
The RDA project “Engaging Researchers with Research Data – What works?”, part of the Libraries for Research Rata Interest Group, aims to collect information on data engagement activities undertaken by different stakeholders, to possibly identify the types of engagement most suitable to the type and size of organisations. This will be also mapped to specific requirements and difficulties encountered in successfully running these activities.
Ultimately, the project will produce a handbook of diverse case studies to support stakeholders decisions, contributing to building a better understanding of how FAIR and open research data policies are/can be successfully implemented globally. Still, there seems to be a gap between the perceived benefit of data sharing and actual practice (dilemma of data sharing).
Preliminary outcomes of the team’s work were presented at the Plenary 13 meeting in Philadelphia, during the Libraries for Research Data Interest Group session, by Helena Andreassen, Raman Ganguly and Andrea Medina-Smith. The presentation gave an insight into the survey conducted, which was one of the core activities of the project. It acknowledged the importance of a collection of engagement activities by communicating to the audience the overwhelming interest that the survey got from the international community: 216 answers were received at the 1st call for participation! Among respondents, the survey counts 60 funders and 80 institutions.
For more information on the history of the project, how it was formulated and who is involved, please check this blogpost.
To facilitate analysis of those data and to effectively respond to both qualitative and quantitative needs when translating data into information, the group is divided into two sub-groups: one dedicated to quantitative analysis and one working on the qualitative case studies. Out of 216 responses, 88 cases from 50 independent institutions, offered thorough descriptions of activities aiming at increasing researchers’ engagement with research data. Current work of the groups includes categorisation of these cases per activity type as well as the assignment of tags to ease classification and discovery, in a matrix style approach.
The team is now halfway through to reach the projects’ objectives, and is now focusing on:
- Splitting data analysis into qualitative and quantitative branches, cleaning and structuring data accordingly.
- Preparing for a booksprint in order to create the handbook. The booksprint will take place 10-12 July in the Netherlands.
- Preparing for RDA 14th plenary in Helsinki where the final output of their work will be presented.
The team is also examining the possibility of collaborating with the BoF Research Data Management in Institutions initiative in the near future.
Authors: Heather Andrews, Nicolas Dintzner, Alastair Dunning, Kees den Heijer, Santosh Ilamparuthi, Jeff Love, Esther Plomp, Marta Teperek, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Yan Wang
From February 2019 onwards and with the appointment of the data steward at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS), the team of data stewards is complete: there is a dedicated data steward per every faculty in TU Delft. Therefore, the work in 2019 focuses on embedding the data stewards within their faculties, policy development, and also on making the project sustainable beyond the current funding allocation.
The document below outlines high-level plans for the data stewardship project in 2019.
Engagement with researchers
In 2019, the data stewards will (among others) apply the following new tactics to increase researchers’ engagement with research data management:
Meeting with all full professors
Inspired by the successful case study at the faculty of Aerospace Engineering, data stewards will aim to meet with all full professors at their respective faculties.
Development of training resources for PhD students and supervisors
Ensure that appropriate training recommendations and online data management resources are available for PhD students to help them comply with the requirements of the TU Delft Research Data Framework Policy. These should include:
- Appropriate resources for PhD students, e.g. support for data management plan preparation, and/or data management training for PhD students
- Support for PhD supervisors, e.g. data management guidance and data management plan checklists for PhD supervisors
- Online manuals/checklists for all researchers, e.g. information on TU Delft storage facilities, how to request a project drive, how to make data FAIR
Support for data management plans preparation
Ensure that researchers at the faculty are appropriately supported in writing of data management plans:
- At the proposal stage of projects, researchers are notified about available support for writing the data paragraph by the contract managers and/or project officers of their department
- All new grantees are contacted by the data stewards with an offer of data management and data management plan writing support
- Training resources on the use of DMPonline, which will be used by TU Delft for writing Data Management Plans, are available and known to faculty researchers
Coding Lunch & Data Crunch
Organise monthly 2h walk-in sessions for code and data management questions for faculty researchers. Researchers will be supported by all data stewards and the sessions will rotate between the 8 faculties.
The Electronic Lab Notebooks trial
Following up on the successful Electronic Lab Notebooks event in March 2018, a pilot is being set up to test Electronic Lab Notebooks at TU Delft in 2019. The data stewards from the faculties of 3mE and TNW are part of the Electronic Lab Notebooks working group and are in contact with interested researchers who will be invited to get involved in the pilot.
Further develop the data champions network at TU Delft:
- Ensure that every department at every faculty has at least one data champion
- Develop a community of faculty data champions by organising a meeting every two months on average
- Organise two joint events for all data champions at TU Delft and explore the possibility of organising an international event for data champions in collaboration with other universities
Faculty policies and workflows
In 2019, all faculties are expected to develop their own policies on research data management. However, successful implementation of these policies will depend on creating effective workflows for supporting researchers across the research lifecycle. Therefore, the following objectives are planned for 2019:
- Draft, consult on and publish faculty policies on research data management.
- Develop a strategy for faculty policy implementation
- Develop effective connections and workflows to support researchers throughout the research lifecycle (e.g. contacting every researcher who was successfully awarded a grant)
A survey on research data management needs was completed at 6 TU Delft Faculties (EWI, LR, CiTG, TPM, 3mE and TNW). In 2019, the following activities are planned:
- Publish the results of the survey conducted in the 6 faculties in a peer-reviewed journal
- Conduct the survey at BK and IDE – first quarter of 2019
- Re-run the survey at EWI, LR, CiTG, TPM, 3mE and TNW – September 2019
- Compare the results of the survey in 2017/2018 with the results from 2019 of the re-run survey and publish faculty-specific reports with their key reflections on the Open Working blog
- Survey data visualisation in R or python
The visualisation of 2017/2018 RDM survey results was available in Tableau, which is proprietary software. To adhere to the openness principle, and also to practice data carpentry skills (see below), the 2019 data visualisation will be conducted in R.
Training and professional development
On top of specific training on data management, in 2019 data stewards will invest in training in the following areas:
Software carpentry skills
Code management is now an integral part of research and is likely to become even more important in the coming years. Therefore, as a minimum, every data steward should complete the full software carpentry training as an attendee in order to be able to effectively communicate with researchers about their code management and sharing needs. In addition, data stewards are strongly encouraged to complete training for carpentry instructors to further develop their skills and capabilities.
Participation in disciplinary meetings
In order to keep up with the research fields they are supporting, data stewards will also participate in at least one meeting, specific to researchers from their discipline. Giving talks about data stewardship / open science during disciplinary meetings is strongly encouraged.
In addition to dedicated events for the Data Champions, the following activities are planned for 2019:
- 28 January 2019:
- Talk by Sebastian Karcher: Limits of Reproducibility: Strategies for Transparent Qualitative Research
- Workshop by Sebastian Karcher: Managing Qualitative Data for Sharing and Transparency
- 16 May 2019: Afternoon seminar on publishing reproducible research
- Seminar bi-monthly seminar series “”Future Forward: Science in the Open Era”, starting on 27 February with a talk by Dr Tim Smith “Research Markets or Research Commons”
In addition, the team is planning to organise the following events (no dates yet)
- Software Carpentry workshops
- March & November 2019 – at TU Delft
- May 2019: at Eindhoven
- October 2019: at Twente
- Workshop on preserving social media data – workshop which will feature presentations from experts in the field of social media preservation, as well as investigative journalists (e.g. Bellingcat)
- Conference on effectively collaborating with the industry (managing the tensions between open science and commercial collaborations)
Individual roles and responsibilities
Some data stewards have also undertaken additional roles and responsibilities:
- Yasemin: Electronic Lab Notebooks, Data Champions
- Esther: Electronic Lab Notebooks, DMP registry
- Kees: Software Consultancy Lead
Sustainable funding for data stewardship
The current funding for the data stewardship project (salaries for the data stewards) comes from the University’s Executive Board and is until the end of 2020. However, the importance of the support offered to the research community by the data stewards has been already recognised not only by the academic community at TU Delft but also by support staff.
In order to ensure the continuation of the data stewardship programme and for TU Delft not to lose the highly skilled, trained and sought-after professionals, it is crucial that the source of sustainable funding is identified in 2019.
Authors: Marta Teperek, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Shalini Kurapati, Esther Plomp, Heather Andrews, Robbert Eggermont
TU Delft has been leading the way in fostering a good research data management culture to uphold the quality, transparency and reproducibility of research. Since 2017, TU Delft has piloted the Data Stewardship programme with the aim to provide disciplinary specific data management support to TU Delft researchers. The focus on disciplinary support is motivated by the belief that in research data management (RDM), there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.
TU Delft has eight faculties with a wide range of research topics. In order to provide dedicated disciplinary support to researchers, a Data Steward was appointed at every faculty. Each Data Steward has a PhD degree in research are relevant for the faculty.
This is a condensed 2018 annual report describing the progress, activities, achievements and future prospects of the project.
Team building and laying the groundwork for the programme
In 2017 the majority of work focused on the recruitment of Data Stewards at three faculties: Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Sciences (EEMCS), Aerospace Engineering (AE) and Civil Engineering and Geosciences (CEG), and laying the groundwork of the programme. In 2018 Data Stewards were appointed at the remaining faculties, which concluded the team building work and brought the programme to its full speed. Since the beginning of 2019, the team of Data Stewards is at its full capacity, with a dedicated Data Steward per faculty.
The Data Stewards meet weekly for training, information sessions, and knowledge and practice exchange. The weekly meetings focus on the RDM needs of TU Delft researchers and keeping up to date with the most recent trends in RDM such as the FAIR principles, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law, research and software reproducibility. Dedicated experts from TU Delft, as well as national and international scene are regularly invited to these meetings. Communication channels and information sharing spaces have been also created and are now effectively used by all team members. To increase the visibility of the programme and to openly share its progress, a Data Stewardship webpage and a dedicated section on Open Working blog were launched. While the Data Stewards are embedded at each faculty, the Research Data Services (RDS) team operate centrally at the TU Delft library. To establish strong links between these two teams, a joint Away Day is organised once a year. Additionally, members of the RDS team are also attending weekly Data Stewards meetings and participate in some of the joint projects and undertakings (e.g. roll out of a new data management plan template). In addition, connections with faculty secretaries were developed through dedicated meetings to talk about Data Stewardship hosted by the Library and attended by all faculty secretaries. All of these activities were overseen and coordinated by the Data Stewardship Coordinator who is located at the TU Delft library.
Day to day activities of the Data Stewards
The role of the Data Steward at TU Delft is relatively new, so one of the first tasks of the Data Stewards was to become visible to researchers and gather intelligence on the type of support and advice researchers require within the faculty. In the first couple of months, Data Stewards engaged with researchers during faculty meetings, interviews, graduate school seminars, open science roadshows and by sending out a survey on the data management needs (see below for more details).
After researchers were sufficiently aware of the help they could receive, Data Stewards started receiving questions and requests for data management support. The requests varied across the 8 faculties, but there were a few common topics on which Data Stewards were regularly consulted, such as: advice on data management plans, information about data archiving options, data sharing possibility, GDPR concerns, cross-border data transfers, commercially sensitive data, or data licensing.
Data stewards are also the linking pin to the broader TU Delft research support ecosystem. Pragmatically speaking, Data Stewards act as general practitioners to all data related questions and issues. If there is a need for a specific intervention from a university wide legal, ethics or ICT specialist, Data Stewards know where to direct the researcher to get the most specific and useful answers.
In addition to advice and consultation, Data Stewards provide and/or facilitate on-request training and workshops on data management topics for researchers and PhD students. Agreements are made with faculty graduate schools to allocate credit points for participation.
At the moment all the Data Stewards are involving in leading the RDM policy development at their respective faculties.
Although embedding Data Stewards at each faculty is a prerequisite for creating awareness and achieving cultural change in RDM, community building efforts are essential to fully accomplish these goals. Additionally, it is impossible for a single Data Steward to have all the necessary disciplinary background to understand and support all types of research carried out in one faculty. Therefore the Data Champions programme was launched in September 2018.
Data Champions are researchers who voluntarily act as local community-based advocates for good data management and sharing practices. In return, they are provided with opportunities to showcase their activities during meetings at the department, faculty and TU Delft level as well as (inter)national conferences to offer increased impact and visibility. Additionally, the Data Champions are offered travel grants to join meetings and conferences to showcase their Data Champion activities, and trainings and workshops to learn new RDM skills to share with their local community members.
Suitable candidates for the programme are identified by faculty Data Stewards and are encouraged to become Data Champions. The general communication with the Data Champions is carried out by the Data Steward at the Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (3mE), who took on the role of the Data Champions Community Manager. The first meeting to officially kick off the programme was on 14 December 2018. This meeting took place in an informal setting to encourage interactive discussions, knowledge exchange and networking. Overall, it was very well received by the Data Champions as well as the research support professionals. As of December 2018 we already had 27 Data Champions (at least one Data Champion per faculty) and this number is still growing. The AE Faculty, as well as the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management (TPM), already have at least one Data Champion at every department.
The Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences (AS) has recognised the importance of Data Champions for advocating for good data management and sharing practices and aims to also have at least one Data Champion per department. The AS faculty already has six Data Champions and two of them, Anton Akhmerov and Gary Steele, took the lead in creating a dedicated policy on Open Data for their department (Quantum Nanoscience). The importance of the Data Champions programme has been recognised also at a strategic level at TU Delft, evidenced by the wish of Prof. Rob Mudde, the Vice Rector Magnificus of TU Delft, to attend the next meeting of the Data Champions.
To be able to offer dedicated RDM support, it is necessary to first define the problems and the needs of the researchers. Our survey on research data management needs, which was initiated in 2017 at three faculties (EEMCS, CEG and AE), has been extended and completed in three other faculties in 2018 (TPM, 3mE, AS). The survey gathered 680 responses in total and the data visualisation is publicly available. The survey provided important information on the state of data management practices at TU Delft. The survey will be repeated yearly and this way the results will serve as a benchmark to indicate the effects of the work of Data Stewards on data management awareness and practices at the faculties.
The joint presentation summarising survey results at LIBER conference in July 2018 by the Data Stewards from LT and 3mE faculties was very positively received by the community and downloaded 187 times. Based on this presentation, we got invited to submit a paper about the survey results to LIBER Quarterly. The survey will be run at the two remaining faculties (Architecture and the Built Environment – ABE, and Industrial Design Engineering – IDE) and re-run at the other faculties in 2019.
Data Stewardship in numbers
Summarising, in 2018 the Data Stewards have received at least 245 requests for help with data management (note that not all the requests are recorded, given that it involves manual copy-pasting of the requests received by emails). In addition, in 2018 Data Stewards conducted 68 dedicated interviews with researchers about their data management practices. Notably, the Data Steward at the AE Faculty has met with all the full professors at the faculty, which was positively received by TU Delft’s ex-Rector Magnificus Karel Luyben.
In addition, Data Stewards adhere to the principle “practice as you preach” and therefore share their work as openly as possible. In 2018 the team published 29 blog posts and other publications on the Open Working blog. Our top viewed blog post in 2018 is by the Data Steward at EEMCS, describing the results of the RDM survey (viewed 844 times).
Furthermore, the team have attended 46 national and international conferences and meetings in 2018, including 33 occasions were Data Stewards were presenting as invited speakers or keynote speakers. The Data Steward from the 3mE Faculty was awarded the competitive Research Data Alliance Early Career Researcher Grant to attend the International Data Week 2018 conference in Botswana in November 2018. Again, in adherence with the openness principles, all presentations are publicly shared in a dedicated Data Stewardship at TU Delft community in Zenodo.
Data Stewardship event
On 24 of May 2018 the team has organised a dedicated event “Engaging researchers with research data – Data Stewardship in practice” to showcase the work of Data Stewards at TU Delft and to exchange views and practices on Data Stewardship with other universities. The event was attended by over 120 individuals (with 35% of the participants from countries other than the Netherlands). All participants judged the event as “good” or “excellent” and responses to open questions were overwhelmingly positive.
All the photos (taken by Jan van der Heul from the RDS team, our Chief Photographer), videos and presentations from the event are publicly available. In addition, three participants wrote blog posts with their reflections and take-home messages (Marjan Grootveld, Danny Kingsley and Martin Donnelly).
Data stewards have also been involved in many diverse projects. For example, the Data Stewards from the AE and CEG faculties took part in developing domain data protocols, which aim to provide researchers with disciplinary standards for data management in their research domains. The Data Stewards from the 3mE and AS faculties are part of the Electronic Lab Notebooks working group, which, following up on the successful Electronic Lab Notebooks event in March 2018, is now setting up a pilot to test Electronic Lab Notebooks at TU Delft in 2019.
Data stewards from the faculties of TPM, 3mE, AS and CEG have been involved in providing support for researchers working with software in order to improve code management practices and to make software more reproducible. Several workshops on software sustainability were organised, which resulted in a dedicated research paper that got accepted to be presented during the IEEE eScience 2018 conference and got published in the conference proceedings. The preprint of this paper is already downloaded 227 times.
These efforts eventually resulted in 4TU.Center for Research Data joining in December 2018 The Carpentries which is a non-profit organization teaching foundational coding, and data science skills to researchers worldwide. On 29 and 30 November, the first Software Carpentry workshop took place at TU Delft. The tickets got sold out just in a matter of days and we had around 30 researchers participating and another 45 on the waiting list, showing the huge interest and need for such training. Two more Carpentry workshops will take place in TU Delft in 2019. In addition, the Data Steward from the CEG faculty took the lead in the organisation of walk-in coding consultations for researchers wishing to get tailored support on their code management practices, which, due to its success and positive feedback from researchers, will continue to be organised on a regular basis. Moreover, a meeting with TU Delft researchers took place to discuss community building efforts for good programming practices. To this meeting, a representative from the Carpentries and a researcher from the University of Amsterdam was invited to learn lessons from their community building efforts.
Data Stewards have been also instrumental in driving forward the Open Science agenda. Dedicated Open Science roadshows (information sessions on research data management and on Open Access) have taken place at AE, TPM, IDE and CEG faculties. In addition, the TPM faculty organised a dedicated workshop on Open Science to their PhD students. The presentation “Open Science in a nutshell: what’s in it for me?” which was uploaded to Zenodo, has been downloaded 324 times and viewed 1,815 times.
In the current changing funding landscape where the researchers are expected to publish their papers and data openly, it is not feasible to evaluate researchers based on high impact journal publications alone for funding and promotion criteria. This is why, the TPM Faculty was also actively involved in discussions about academic rewards and how to make open science count in academic careers. Prof. Bartel Van De Walle was the keynote speaker at the event on Open Science skills which was co-organised by the Data Stewards, 4TU.Centre for Research Data and the EOSCPilot. There were two separate blog posts highlighting the key aspects of the event (one blog post about the event as a whole and another one about the interactive workshop).
Following the principle that good data management should start as early as possible, the Data Steward from the AE Faculty opiloted the use of Dataverse for keeping research data of master students. Valuable and curated datasets can be subsequently easily published with 4TU.Center for Research Data.
Recognising the need for disciplinary support and for community building, Data Stewards from the ABE and IDE faculties identified the need for Digital Humanities community at TU Delft and are currently discussing with researchers across TU Delft to scope their interests and needs. A bottom-up approach is taken to encourage researchers to take lead in forming their own communities and exchange research ideas, resources and challenges. The first community-driven meeting will take place in early January 2019 at ABE faculty.
Since 25 May 2018, GDPR has came into effect in Europe. In August, two events dedicated to GDPR and its implications for research data were co-organised by the Data Stewards and the Research Data Netherlands. An important aspect of these two events was that representatives from multiple institutions and countries were present to talk about their individual approaches and considerations.
On 26 June 2018, the TU Delft Research Data Framework Policy was approved by TU Delft’s Executive Board. The Framework Policy is an overarching policy on research data management for TU Delft as a whole and it defines the roles and responsibilities at the University level. In addition, the Framework provides templates for faculty-specific data management policies. It is important to develop the faculty policies according to discipline specific RDM needs of the researchers, so they can use this policy as a roadmap for good RDM practices.
Currently, the deans and the faculty management teams, together with the Data Stewards, are busy with the development of faculty-specific policies on data management which will define faculty-level responsibilities. Any interested researcher and research supporter will be invited to give feedback and therefore contribute to the development of the faculty policy. In AS and 3mE faculties, which have around 1000 researchers each, a single meeting would not be feasible, therefore the Data Stewards of these faculties will join to the meetings of every individual department to introduce the policy and ask for feedback. The Data Champions are particularly encouraged to get involved in the development of the policy in their faculties in order to fine tune the policy based on their disciplinary needs.
As can be seen in this report, 2018 has been a very fruitful year for the TU Delft Data Stewardship programme and with a full team of Data Stewards from the beginning of 2019, we expect 2019 to be even more productive. The faculty policies are expected to be rolled-out and published 2019. As one of the requirements of the policy is all PhD candidates starting from 2019 to attend data management training, currently the Data Stewards are busy with the development of a dedicated training suitable for the disciplinary needs of the PhD candidates. For this, the Data Stewards are in close contact with the central and faculty graduate schools, PhD councils and colleagues from TU Delft Library.
We already have three events planned in 2019: a seminar titled as Limits of Reproducibility: Strategies for Transparent Qualitative Research which will be followed by a hands-on workshop about Managing Qualitative Data for Sharing and Transparency on 28 January, open science seminars kick off on 27 February and a seminar on publishing reproducible research on 16 May.
Additionally, we will also have a one-day event for all TU Delft’s Data Champions,
one workshop on working with software and High Performance Computing (HPC), a conference on collaboration with industry and open science and two more software carpentry workshops.
In addition, a dedicated blog post about out plans for 2019 is going to be published soon, so watch this space!
Written by: Maria Cruz and Julien Colomb
A new RDA project, under the umbrella of the Libraries for Research Interest Group and counting with the help of 29 volunteers from three continents, seeks to collect case studies from organisations around the world on how to engage researchers with research data management.
Collectively, our group have put together a survey, now open for contributions, which allows participants to share their stories and approaches for increasing engagement with research data management among researchers. The results from this survey, including the data, will be shared widely with the community in the form of an open book. The goal is to assemble a wealth of information and resources that can be used by institutions to select the methods that are most suitable for their settings.
The importance of research data management has been well emphasized over the last few years, particularly by research funding agencies, universities, and other research and academic institutions. However, the discussions around this topic have often been led by librarians and data professionals, and researcher engagement has been largely limited to those researchers who are already interested in the topic. In order to achieve global cultural change in data management, researchers need to be motivated and properly recognised for good data stewardship efforts. This is not an easy task.
Many organisations have developed dedicated programmes aiming at greater researcher engagement with research data. Examples include the Data Champions initiative at the University of Cambridge, Data Conversations at the University of Lancaster, the Data Stewardship programme at TU Delft, and the Open Data Champions initiative of SPARC Europe. In addition, some institutions, such as the University Medical Centre Utrecht and the Berlin Institute of Health, decided to change the way in which researchers are rewarded.
However, do we know how successful these programmes are in achieving cultural change? And what about their costs and benefits? Are some programmes more suitable than others for certain types of institutions? Are there other strategies out there that achieve similar results with less effort? These are some of the questions this project is trying to address.
Research data management professionals spend a considerable amount of their time doing outreach, teaching, and otherwise engaging with researchers about research data management. Understanding what we can learn from each other and how to exchange practices more effectively are two very important goals of the project.
The case study collection, review and editing are being led Iza Witkowska, a Data Consultant from the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, together with Andrea Medina-Smith from the USA and Elli Papadopoulou from Greece. They count with the help of 15 enthusiastic volunteers for these tasks. The first project update will be presented at the RDA Thirteen Plenary Meeting in Philadelphia in April 2019.
This blog post is distributed under a CC-BY 4.0 licence.
RDA Researcher Engagement Project
Lauren Cadwallader, Julien Colomb, University of Jena, Maria Cruz, Mary Donaldson, Lambert Heller, Rosie Higman, Elli Papadopoulou, Vanessa Proudman, James Savage, Marta Teperek
Project group members
Helene N. Andreassen, Daniel Bangert, Miriam Braskova, Lauren Cadwallader, John Chodacki, Julien Colomb, Philipp Conzett, Maria Cruz, Mary Donaldson, Biswanath Dutta, Esther Fernandez, Joshua Finnell, Raman Ganguly, Patricia Henning, Amy Hodge, Stein Høydalsvik, Greg Janée, Lynda Kellam, Gabor Kismihok, Iryna Kuchma, Narendra Kumar Bhoi, Young-Joo Lee, Leif Longva, Andrea Medina-Smith, Solomon Mekonnen, Remedios Melero, Rising Osazuwa, Elli Papadopoulou, Fernanda Peset, Josiline Phiri, Piyachat Ratana, Gerry Ryder, James Savage, Souleymane Sogoba, Magdalena Szuflita-Żurawska, Ralf Toepfer, Ellen Verbakel, Irena Vipavc Brvar, Jacquelynne Waldron, Anna Wałek, Yan Wang, Iza Witkowska, Joanne Yeomans
Post by Amit Gal, Alastair Dunning and Nicole Will
The research organisastion Ithaka S+R recently issued the report “Scholars ARE Collectors: A Proposal for Re-thinking Research Support”. The report takes a user-centred approach when trying to understand what would be a good way to support researchers in the future, and outline possible places to invest.
It makes the case that researchers are, in fact, collectors, and that their (often massive) collections vary widely in form across different disciplines. All of these collections however, are not properly managed – which is quite understandable, as “collecting” requires a different set of skills and tools than “researching”.
From the context of our own research support services at TU Delft, we made some specific points in observation :
1. The report has a great focus on the right point of view – the user’s point of view. If we at TU Delft want to support the researcher better, we must understand her better. That means more than just knowing what she does, it means having an empathetic understanding of why she does it and who she is. Understanding is more than just talking.
3. The report points to four different stakeholders that support scholarly collecting – funders, open data advocacy groups, external tool and service providers, and academic institutions. It might be useful to realize that we, as the TU Delft library, represent two of these stakeholders – we are the academic institution, naturally, but we are also the FAIR data advocacy group. Is it possible that these two sometimes clash? Could one role impede the other, and if so – how should we address it?
3. The journey of understanding our users better, improving our services and creating new, better ones – is a journey we cannot be taking on our own. At the very least, ICT and the researcher groups must be partners here. So we should get better at collaborating with these, and other, parties around us.
4. Some of the language (eg, ‘scholars’, ‘personal collections’) and evidence here is drawn from the humanities and doesn’t feel right in the context of a technical university. The report misses some of the language and developments occurring in a technical university (eg., there is no mention of data science, data stewards etc, and the importance of writing code or running simulations is underplayed)
5. Our instinct is that scientists (as opposed to humanities scholars) have fewer ‘personal collections’ and more ‘group collections’. E.g. A team gets access to data, or a department collects data, or a consortium writes a proposal, or a group writes a paper. While individual roles always play a part, access to these different outputs is managed at a team level.
6. Many of the key points are similar to what we know here at TU Delft, eg about fear of being scooped or the time taken to document data. The metaphor of collection is also important, as it emphasises the emotional ownership scientists feel about their outputs.
7. The conclusions of the final page is definitely worth holding on how do we (and by that I mean not just the library but all the relevant support service) offer the kind of support the researcher needs throughout her workflow (not just the start and end). The goal is not Open Science per se, but getting to Open Science by responding to specific user needs.
The year 2017 closes in and it was a busy one for the DMP (data management plan) support. The funding bodies NWO (Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk) and European Commission tightened their demands on research data management during the research and the discoverability and accessibility for the research outcome. Since that caesura the interaction with the researcher receiving grants from these funding bodies steadily increases. Next to other research support services, such as the valorisation centre, pointing researcher with a help request to our services, the RDS (research data services) team proactively contacts researcher to offer advice.
The first step is an introductory talk about the researchers project, their data and research data management. The following topic explains the provided ICT solutions available at TU Delft, because it still appears that researcher are not aware of the full spectrum of available technical infrastructure. Subsequently the DMP section about how to handle research data during the research is discussed. The last part considers preservation, archiving and data availability after the research, where the 4TU.Centre for Research Data is introduced and the benefits explained. Additionally the use of the 4TU.Reserach Data instance of DataVerseNL is described. With this wholesome range of support services, a possible data management and data deposit workflow is discussed.
For NWO the first deadline for a DMP draft is 4 months after the project officially started, for the H2020 programme by the European Commission it is 6 months. The RDS team also offers to give feedback on the DMP between that first deadline and the final submission.
The ideal involvement of the RDS team from start to finish begins with giving feedback on the data section in the proposal stage. When the project has received funding, the researcher comes back to the RDS team, or the team contacts the researcher again to offer support. Besides helping with filling in the DMP, the RDS teams offers training for the project team and the department, if the researcher is sympathetic towards that. With the data-doi reservation service of the 4TU.Centre of Research Data, the researcher are encouraged to already deposit the scientific publication underlying data into the archive. With the collection creation feature, the researcher are offered a great opportunity to represent their research output in the most suitable way and not wait till the end of the project to ‘dump’ some data into the archive to comply to the open data demand by the funding body.
All this is introduced and explained to the researcher in the first session and can lead to a close collaboration throughout the project duration, if the researcher is in favour of that.
So far we supported 20x research projects by NWO and 3x H2020 (open data pilot) with their DMP drafting and first submission. We did not receive any feedback by the funders about the quality of our DMP support yet. However, the researcher at TU Delft appreciate our advice and help.