A JISC-funded Managing Research Data project

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Part of the Orbital project governance is that I report to the university’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise Committee. The Committee meets every three months and I send a short report to each meeting and attend every other meeting. Here’s my report for the February committee meeting.

The Orbital Project

Progress report to the Research, Innovation and Enterprise Committee

30th January 2012

Author: Joss Winn, PI/PM.

Progress since the last update to the RIEC on 13th December:

  1. The short-term focus for the project continues to be the development of the technical infrastructure for managing research data, while being mindful of the long-term requirements to develop policy and a supportive environment for research staff.
  2. Software development has begun. We have finished setting up the development environment for the Orbital system. This is a major software development project for the university and we have spent some time designing the server architecture and quality assurance procedures for development.
  3. Orbital will make use of ‘cloud computing’ and is working with ICT as a pilot project for integrating cloud computing into our local infrastructure. A meeting took place with Eduserv, a non-profit provider of cloud computing to the HE sector (running on Janet) and a further meeting is taking place with Rackspace, a major commercial provider of cloud computing services. This work sits alongside ICT’s need to refresh their server infrastructure next year and will provide ICT with a real opportunity to investigate the business case for cloud computing as well as issues around actual implementation.
  4. A full-time post for a Web Developer has been advertised and we expect the post to begin late March/early April. This is the second full-time Web Developer post on the Orbital project.
  5. We are pleased that Dr. Ling from the School of Engineering and his PhD student, Chunmei Qing, will work with closely with the Orbital project in the development of the software, policy and training materials. Similarly, we are working with Prof. Chris Bingham and Stuart Watson (Siemens), and have recently joined their fortnightly research meetings, which are extremely useful to the Orbital project. At this stage, we welcome involvement from any Researcher in the School of Engineering and further into the project intend to broaden our use cases to other research disciplines.
  6. A meeting has been held with Dr. Mansur Darlington from the University of Bath. Dr. Darlington led the JISC-funded ERIM project, which studied the Research Data Management (RDM) issues for the discipline of Engineering.[1] The meeting was very useful for the Orbital team, including partners at Siemens and Researchers in the School of Engineering, who attended. The ERIM project provides a very robust, theoretical basis, which Orbital will attempt to build upon and implement. Similarly, a follow-up to the ERIM project will provide prototype tools, which we hope to build on for Orbital.[2] This is a key external relationship for the Orbital project.
  7. One issue flagged by Dr. Darlington concerned national funding bodies’ RDM policies. Each funding body has an RDM policy which requires universities to have effective methods in place for managing, preserving and disseminating research data.[3] The EPSRC has told all universities that we must provide them with a RDM roadmap by 1st May 2012 and must be compliant with these expectations by 1st May 2015.[4]
  8. The Orbital project is required by JISC to produce an RDM Policy for the institution. A national meeting is being organised by JISC to assist with the development of such policy in March. Following this, I suggest that a workshop is held in March where the Orbital project and other key staff from the Library and Research and Enterprise Office begin to draft this Policy and the required EPSRC roadmap. This can then be presented to the RIEC for discussion and approval prior to submission to the EPSRC.
  9. A meeting has been arranged for March 7th, 9.30-12pm, to discuss the Business Case for Open licenses. This discussion will be of interest for anyone concerned with licensing research outputs (‘Open Access’), software development projects (‘Open Source’), and teaching and learning resources (‘Open Educational Resources’). Staff from the JISC-funded OSS Watch, University of Oxford, will present at this meeting. Andrew Hunter and James Murray will attend and members of the RIEC are also welcome. Please RSVP to Joss Winn by end of February.
  10. Joss is working with JISC to organise a national event focussing on issues around software development for Research Data Management, which will be held in May.

I’m very pleased to write that today we recruited Nick Jackson as the Orbital Lead Web Developer. Nick has worked with us on three former JISC projects (Total Recal, Jerome and Linking You) and was instrumental in developing http://data.lincoln.ac.uk. Nick’s work on developing and implementing a number of the tools we now take for granted at the University will be extremely valuable to the Orbital Project and we look forward to working with him and learning from him in his new role. He formally starts on the project on Monday 31st October.

The Orbital project formally begins today and I’m pleased to be able to write that we’ve just advertised internally for the post of Lead Web Developer. If all goes well, the chosen candidate should be in place and working on the project by the end of this month. The Lead Developer role is key to the project and will be working closely with myself (Joss Winn – Project Managers) and Paul Stainthorp, Lead Researcher.

This post is established within the Centre for Educational Research and Development (CERD) to work as Lead Developer on the JISC-funded ‘Orbital’ project. The Orbital project has been funded to develop, implement and pilot a new infrastructure for managing research data at the university. Further information on the Orbital project can be found at: http://lncn.eu/t48

Working closely with colleagues in the ICT Online Services team and Library, CERD has been successful in leading a number of innovative research and development projects that improve the use of technology in higher education and the University of Lincoln in particular. The new post of Lead Developer will work alongside colleagues in CERD, ICT and the Library to build on this recent success and contribute to the delivery of the Orbital project objectives.

The role requires extensive knowledge of the web and its attendant technologies and the software development and analytical skills to put this knowledge to good effect. In particular, candidates for the role should have demonstrable experience as both a producer and consumer of RESTful web services for large data stores.