As the very newest member of the Research Data Management team here at Leeds, Rachel has seen fit to entrust me with the password for this blog and for the Twitter account @ResDataLeeds, both of which we hope to use to communicate with institutional stakeholders and with the wider RDM community.
I have worked in Scholarly Communications for nearly ten years supporting Open Access (OA) and repository systems up the road at Leeds Beckett University, including exploring issues around RDM. Inevitably, though, I am currently on a steep learning curve, albeit one that the sector as a whole is still traversing together.
Resoundingly the case has now been made for Open Access to research papers, if not necessarily the best mechanism to achieve it (gold or green routes), and the sector is moving (almost) as one, with HEFCE requiring that to be eligible for REF submission, journal articles and conference papers must be deposited in an open access repository on acceptance for publication. There is also an evolving consensus that underlying research data should also be made available, openly where possible but with suitable access restrictions where necessary – for reasons of commercial sensitivity for example.
While HEFCE do not currently advocate a comparable mandate for research data, their consultation paper published last week asks how they can incentivise units of assessment to share and manage their research data more effectively as well as emphasising that research datasets and databases that meet the REF definition of research* will (continue to) be eligible for submission in the outputs element of the assessment (HEFCE, 2016).
Whether or not you are thinking about the REF, as a key element of the research process, RDM should be considered at the very outset of a research project and a plan put in place to manage data throughout its lifecycle as illustrated below:
Stuart Macdonald/EDINA. Used with permission
* Definition of research for the REF
- For the purposes of the REF, research is defined as a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared.
- It includes work of direct relevance to the needs of commerce, industry, and to the public and voluntary sectors; scholarship8; the invention and generation of ideas, images, performances, artefacts including design, where these lead to new or substantially improved insights; and the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes, including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and routine analysis of materials, components and processes such as for the maintenance of national standards, as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. It also excludes the development of teaching materials that do not embody original research.
- It includes research that is published, disseminated or made publicly available in the form of assessable research outputs, and confidential reports (as defined at paragraph 115 in Part 3, Section 2).
Assessment framework and guidance on submissions (Annex C, p48)