News from Orbital: Policy, Implementation Plan and a first release date

It feels like there’s been quite a lot coming together recently. Here’s what we’re working on:

  • A draft RDM policy (WP7)
  • Our Implementation Plan (WP6), which includes our Literature Review (WP4), initial user requirements analysis (WP5), our technical evaluation (WP10), and assessment of data sources (WP9). All of this goes to the Steering Group tomorrow and all being well, will be posted on this project blog a day or two later.
  • A DAF-based survey (23 questions) of researchers’ data management practices and requirements. We’ve asked all Engineering academics to complete this via the Head of School; we’ve sent a request to all Research Directors in the university to encourage their academic colleagues to complete the survey, and have also advertised it to all staff on three occasions this week via the daily all staff alerts. So far, 28 people have completed it (about 5% of staff on academic contacts). We’ll continue to push this after the Easter break and publish a summary once we think we’ve exhausted our chances of staff filling it in on mass. Probably later in the month.
  • Harry Newton joined us as a second Developer, working with Nick Jackson. Harry graduated with an MSc in Computer Science from Lincoln last year. He’s been ‘bedding in’ this week and started working on adding ‘projects’ functionality to Orbital.
  • A release date for v0.1 of the Orbital software is May 1st. A couple of weeks ago, a Robotics researcher asked us if we could help him publish his datasets (20GB). We did so, offering him server space, guidance on his choice of license and a proxy URL to use for citation. It made us realise that there’s probably quite a few researchers like him that just need to get data on the web for citation purposes, so we thought we’d aim to have something permanently in place for the university by May 1st. Functionality for the v0.1 release will be: secure login, basic project creation and deletion, file upload, license picker, publish to permanent URL for citation. We think this is the bare minimum needed for a researcher to publish open research data so that it is permanently citable. From May 1st, we’ll maintain a working system on which to base discussions with users about additional functionality. For the time-being, researchers wishing to upload data will have to discuss it with us first.
  • We’re on the list of testers for the new DataCite API and have registered with ORCID, too, which has a mock API for testing against.
  • We’re helping organise the JISC MRD/DevCSI MRD Hackday on May 2-3rd, when we hope to be able to demo this work and talk about the implementation in detail. Fingers crossed.

Drafting a Research Data Management Policy

This morning, four of us (Bev Jones and Paul Stainthorp, Library; Annalisa Jones, Research Office; and Joss Winn, Centre for Educational Research and Development) met for three hours to draft a Research Data Management Policy for the University.

We began by Paul and Bev summarising their experience attending the RDM Policy workshop in Leeds last month, and then went on to look at the requirements of UK funding bodies, as summarised by the DCC. We then reviewed the four university RDM policies linked to from the DCC’s institutional policy page and set about creating a draft policy for Lincoln, which will first be reviewed by the Orbital Steering Group later this week and then referred to the Academic Board and Research, Innovation and Enterprise Committee for approval.

Our draft policy is modelled on the Cross Council Policy Overview by the DCC, which broke down funders’ policies as follows:

  • Published outputs: a policy on published outputs e.g. journal articles and conference papers
  • Data: a datasets policy or statement on access to and maintenance of electronic resources
  • Time limits: set timeframes for making content accessible or preserving research outputs
  • Data plan: requirement to consider data creation, management or sharing in the grant application
  • Access/sharing: promotion of OA journals, deposit in repositories, data sharing or reuse
  • Long-term curation: stipulations on long-term maintenance and preservation of research outputs
  • Monitoring: whether compliance is monitored or action taken such as withholding funds
  • Guidance: provision of FAQs, best practice guides, toolkits, and support staff
  • Repository: provision of a repository to make published research outputs accessible
  • Data centre: provision of a data centre to curate unpublished electronic resources or data
  • Costs: a willingness to meet publication fees and data management / sharing costs

We then drew from Edinburgh’s policy to look at how it meets each of these points. Then, we began merging points and writing a policy response, again borrowing from Edinburgh at times.

You can read our draft policy online. If you’re interested in seeing in detail how it was written, go to the File menu, click on See revision history and then at the bottom of the page, click Show more detailed revisions. Amendments to the policy will continue to be made at that location, so we should see the full history of the policy development over time.  Sorry, it appears that in read-only mode, Google docs doesn’t allow access to the document revision history. UPDATE: See the link to a version maintained on Github in the comments below.

I should note that this is intended to be a pithy policy statement, similar to what other institutions have written and will be supported by more detailed written guidance, which we’ll develop over the course of the Orbital project.