Research Data Management Policy approved

I am very pleased to announce that our Research Data Management policy, which was one of the main objectives of the Orbital project, has been approved by the university’s Research Committee. The process of drafting the policy began in April 2012 as a collaborative effort between Orbital team members from the Centre for Educational Research and Development, The Library and the Research and Enterprise Office. Comments were then solicited from the Director of ICT, the Director of Research and Enterprise and the University Librarian. The draft was then presented to the Research Committee, which requested that the policy be discussed with the Senior Management Team due to its resourcing implications. This meeting took place in October 2012 and as a result, SMT requested that the College Research Directors were consulted on the Policy and agreed that a Business Case for Research Data Management (to effectively ‘underwrite’ the policy) should be put together. The Business Case was presented to SMT and accepted in January 2013. Following discussion with the Research Directors and further re-drafting, the policy was approved today.

This completes the formal objectives of the Orbital project and places us in a position where we have a Business Case, Policy and a new ‘Research Information Services’ team that is being formed to meet the expectations and aspirations of our researcher community and our funders.

Open Data and the Academy: An Evaluation of CKAN for Research Data Management

In August 2012, the Orbital project made the decision to adopt CKAN as part of a technical infrastructure for RDM. In February, due to interest from other universities, we held a workshop in London that looked more closely at ‘CKAN4RDM’. At the end of May, I presented a paper on the use of CKAN for RDM at two conferences: OpenAIRE/LIBER (Ghent, Belgium) and IASSIST (Cologne, Germany).

The paper has been available for comment on Google Docs for over two weeks and viewed by over 200 people. I specifically asked the CKAN-DEV, CKAN-DISCUSS and CKAN4RDM mailing lists, as well as conference attendees to provide feedback on the paper. The conference sessions were very well attended (I guess 400 people must have heard me present the paper across both occasions) and from conversations afterwards, the paper seems to have generated a decent amount of interest as well as raise the awareness of CKAN among data librarians and data archivists.

The paper can now be downloaded in its final form from the Lincoln Repository and my conference presentation slides are below. I hope that my recommendations lead to the further use and development of CKAN for the management of research data. Do join the CKAN4RDM mailing list if you’d like to discuss this further.

Data Management Planning

In February, Joy Davidson and Kerry Miller from the Digital Curation Centre visited Lincoln to run a workshop around ‘Data Management Planning’. The workshop was aimed at staff who support researchers at Lincoln and was very well attended by 14 colleagues from the Library and Research and Enterprise. Both Joy and Kerry gave presentations, which are available below. We were very pleased with the way the workshop went and continue to work with the DCC on the use of DMPOnline and integrating it with our Researcher Dashboard.

DMP Online

RDM Policy Overview


The Researcher Dashboard

At the JISC MRD final programme meeting, I demonstrated the work we’ve done to integrate disparate research information systems at Lincoln and begin to develop a workflow between them for the deposit of datasets. Below, are two videos which run through the website and application that was called ‘Orbital Bridge’ and is now referred to as the ‘Researcher Dashboard‘.

The screencasts are a bit rough and ready – I’m no voice actor – but it should give you an idea of what we’ve done and the way that this work points forward to further integration and an increased aggregation and re-presentation of research information, of which datasets are a part. Feel free to post questions in the comments box below. Thanks.

The first video (7 mins) discusses the website in general and the ‘My Profile’ section of the Researcher Dashboard.

The second video (13 mins) discusses the ‘My Projects’ section of the Dashboard and gives an overview of the integration and workflow between different research information systems. I haven’t gone into any detail on the actual use of CKAN as we’re using a fairly vanilla 1.7.2 version, with just some additional branding and authentication work. If you’re interested in how CKAN works, I recommend that you try Much of our development with CKAN up to now has been through interaction with its APIs to set up groups and users from the Researcher Dashboard and pull information about datasets from CKAN into the Dashboard.

We’re just about to advertise for a Research Services Developer post (c. £30K/yr), and look forward to that person picking up this work and developing the application and CKAN further. More details on the new role will be posted here in due course.

There are a couple of things that I left out of these videos that I should also mention:

Information about a project in the Researcher Dashboard can be edited from the project page and provides a place where researchers can add further information about the project which is not being collected by the Awards Management System. It also allows the Researcher to add people to the project and assign them roles so they can edit that information, too.If I haven’t emphasised it enough already, one of the ‘features’ of the Dashboard is that it’s an application that allows us to collect more information about research at Lincoln and starts to link it all together. For the first time, information about people, projects, funding, research outputs, datasets and metrics are being brought together in a structured way. With this information, we can go on to build other applications (e.g. a database of research expertise) based on information provided by researchers themselves, enhanced by some simple text mining and clever semantic tagging.

Finally, the documentation on the website is managed by a simple ‘content management system’ that we built for Librarians and other staff who support research at Lincoln. All of the training materials are easily accessible to a non-technical user and can be edited on the website or optionally, managed through Github. This way the site’s content can remain up-to-date and accessible to content authors without having to ask developers of the site to add/edit content for them.

Team meeting notes: Winding down, tidying up, moving forward

We had a quick Orbital team meeting this afternoon. Not everyone could attend, but here’s what was reported:

Joss is writing up the final report for JISC and, along with Paul Stainthorp working with the Dean of Research and University Librarian to establish and resource a new ‘Research Information Service’. This service will bring together people, systems, and policy relating to ePrints, the REF, RDM, bibliometrics and scholarly communication. Joss presented this to the JISC MRD Programme meeting on Tuesday. The slides from the conference are below.

Joss and Nick will also be creating a screencast and advocacy materials to explain and promote the work of the project and new Service before the end of April, when the project officially ends.

Nick is working with the DCC on DMPOnline integration into Orbital’s ‘Researcher Dashboard’. He’s also documenting code and generally tidying up before the end of the project. He’s also working with ePrints Services to add a new user permission to allow the Researcher Dashboard to submit work to ePrints “on behalf” of someone else.

Harry has a one month extension to his contract to undertake some work commissioned by Janet, evaluating different storage services. More on that later in April.

Bev and Paul have been working on the upgrade to ePrints and attending to REF work. The data warehouse (‘Nucleus’) developed as part of the Orbital project looks likely to be used as a source of information for the REF, in particular the university staff profiles, which run on top of Nucleus. (Orbital/Nick, along with combined effort from two other JISC projects at Lincoln (Linkey/Alex Bebop/Dale), built a new university staff profile directory. Something that I keep forgetting! My example can be seen here).

RDM training for post-graduates continues each month and similar training for staff is being arranged through HR.