I’ve been quiet—too quiet—about the Orbital project recently. While I’ve not been blogging, Joss, Nick and Harry have overseen several fairly important developments:

As Orbital-the-product (coherent set of products, really) develops, my own focus between now and the end of the project (March 2013) will be on Orbital-the-servicetraining, support, documentation, and implementation of RDM policy at the University of Lincoln. I’ll work closely with the Research & Enterprise department on these aspects.

Four level hierarchy of documentationAs part of this strand of the project (which cuts across workpackages 7, 11, and 12), I want to consider the following:

  1. The current usability of ownCloud, CKAN, EPrints, etc. – what ‘sticking plaster’ help materials do we need to provide right now (if any?).
  2. How the production of documentation fits in to the software development release cycle (“change management“?) – particularly so in an agile/iterative environment, and how we ensure we meet our responsibility to ‘leave no feature undocumented’ as well as provide adequate contextual information on RDM. Related: I’m thinking about a four-level hierarchy of documentation (see right): how do the different levels relate to each other (how do we ensure internal consistency?), and how do we ensure all four levels are covered?
  3. [How] should we contribute to an (OKFN-co-ordinated) open research [data] handbook initiative (c.f. the Open Data Handbook; Data Journalism Handbook) instead of—or as well as—writing our own operational help guides? Contributing to and re-consuming community-written RDM materials will be more efficient than writing our own guidebook from scratch, but we need to make sure our local documentation is relevant to Lincoln.
  4. I’ve already started collated a list of other peoples’ RDM help materials (Joss has collected many more) – I’ll publish the list to this blog soon. I’ll be looking to see what we can re-use. There are some very good, openly-licensed training materials available, but I don’t want us to use them uncritically.
  5. How do we use our (still not-yet-accepted) RDM policy as a jumping-off point for training events?
  6. What did we learn from our recent(ish) Data Asset Framework exercise? How can we use researchers’ priorities as identified in the DAF to inform training? Should we re-run the exercise and/or follow it up with more detailed discussions?
  7. It possible/likely that we will shortly have a new member of staff to work with the Lincoln Repository and the University’s REF submission. What responsibility might that person have for RDM training and support?

Next I need to organise a meeting with the Research & Enterprise department to plan our ‘version 0.1′ training programme, possibly consisting of (i) a discussion of the issues raised in our DAF survey and people’s current RDM practice, (ii) a discussion of the RDM policy, and (iii) presentation of the various VRE tools available (CKAN, ownCloud, EPrints, DataCite, DMPOnline). We’ll probably pilot this on a group of willing PhD students in the School of Engineering.