RDM Event – White Rose perspectives – 24th May 2012 – Post 1

A regional research data management event primarily aimed at support service staff

Perspectives on Research Data Management, 24th May, Ron Cooke Hub, University of York: Post 1 – Background

This is the first of a series of post summarising a research data management event organised by the RoaDMaP project in conjunction with staff from the three White Rose library services and the DCC.

Although RoaDMaP is a University of Leeds project, we have worked closely for a number of years with our partners in the White Rose Consortium – University of Sheffield and University of York. We share two repository services (White Rose Research Online and White Rose Etheses Online) and the three University Libraries have close ties. At the institutional level, the White Rose partnership is strategically important for the institutions and there are several cross-White Rose research groups. (See the White Rose Consortium web site for more information).

The Libraries have organised a number of exchange of experience events in the past two or three years. When asked to nominate topics for future events, research data management was often in the frame. Using the RoaDMaP project as a springboard for the White Rose event seemed a productive way forward. We invited research office staff from York and Sheffield onto our organising committee. Rather than aim primarily at library staff, we hoped the event would appeal to a broad range staff involved in supporting research data management. In particular, we hoped to attract:

  • staff from various library areas (digital library and repository services; subject librarians; library management)
  • central and faculty IT staff involved in any aspect of research data management;
  • central and faculty based research support staff;
  • staff who deliver training to researchers

Library staff were quick off the mark and snapped up many of the places – not perhaps surprising as they were a ready-made audience, having participated in previous events. We extended our publicity across the three universities, using online announcements, email lists and known contacts to target our other groups.

We were successful in terms of overall numbers – in fact, we had to book more space. We attracted 60 registrants (our maximum capacity), of whom 58 came on the day. A good rate of attendance for a free event. In the run up to the event, we had several withdrawals but we were operating a waiting list and were able to fill all the places.
This illustrates a very strong interest in research data management and a positive reception for the consortial approach to this topic.

A fair range of participants representing different research data roles were attracted. The bulk of participants were library staff but the attendeess represented a sufficient variety of roles for us to create balanced breakout groups as described below.

The participants and job titles along with the presentations for the day are online at http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/forum/240512.html.

Presentations and breakouts

The opportunity for networking and discussion is usually highly rated in the White Rose events (participants usually want more rather than less) – so we wanted to make there were plenty of space for discussions during the day.  Having said this, there was some nervousness that participants would feel they knew little about the topics under discussion and would prefer to listen to expert speakers. The three partners are all a slightly different points in developing research data management services – but not so different that useful conversation and exchange could not take place. We agreed a mixture of presentations – to impart information and stimulate discussion – combined with focussed breakouts could be an effective format.

We were fortunate to have Martin Donnelly from DCC as our keynote speaker. Martin also presented on data management planning for our afternoon session. Three speakers from the partners gave a brief overview of recent RDM developments at their home institutions in the morning presentations. In the afternoon, in addition to Martin’s overview, we had three different takes on research data management planning in action (from Leeds, Sheffield and York).

Rationale For The Breakout Groups

We organised three breakout groups:

  • Mixed institutions and roles
  • Home institution (i.e. all members were from Leeds or Sheffield or York)
  • Similar professional interests (library and information; researchers; research support; IT)

As well as providing a variety of perspectives in each breakout, we hoped the institutional group would prompt participants to think about who might have an interest in the various aspects of research data management (this suggestion came from Martin Donnelly at DCC); we also hoped the professional groups would offer another layer of perspective – and perhaps foster some contacts across the consortium.

Additional blog posts will summarise the breakout discussions and lessons learned from the event.