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Research Data

Research data, preservation and innovation

We’re attending “Standing on the Digits of Giants: Research data, preservation and innovation”, a joint DPC and ALPSP event, on 8th March.

This seminar will “examine emerging trends in scholarly communication from the perspective of the publication and long-term access to the scholarly record. This includes outputs not traditionally included within the primary scientific canon such as metadata, software and research data.”

Research data & preservation

We are very much looking forward to attending. We are currently developing a new training offering for research data managers, starting with a one-day bespoke workshop on digital preservation of research data for the ARMA this May. Seminars like this one will help us get an even better perspective on the requirements of this new audience. We’re hoping to hear use cases, examples and case studies that can help us improve our training offering.

We’ve long been familiar with the technology surrounding the publication of scholarly monographs, journals and research papers (for example, in EPrints) and the associated Open Access / attribution / copyright issues. But we need to engage with applying these lessons to research data itself. We’re aware of the EPSRC Guidelines that help to drive preservation, and that some universities are engaging with the matter as part of a wider preservation initiative.

We’re certain that metadata and software – as noted above – have an important role to play in this process, so we’re hoping to expand our knowledge and form a clear idea of what a comprehensive and complete scholarly record will look like.

As the headline on the ALPSP website says, “Access is not a one time event, it’s an ongoing process.”

Featured Image Credit: Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “Academic Robes Of Oxford, Cambridge, And Edinburgh Universities.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1903. File Icon by Creative Stall,

Research Funding Requirements Webinar Main

Recording – Research Funding Requirements Webinar

You may know we’ve held research funding requirements webinar entitled ‘Key steps in meeting funding requirements’ last week. We had close to 70 attendees from nearly as many UK HE institutions. As part of the registration process we asked delegates what their number one concern is in meeting research funding requirements. Surprisingly an overwhelming majority (74%) said having the ‘right technology’ was their main concern, followed by a distant second place for the ‘right people & processes’ with 17%.

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Funding Requirements Webinar Image

Webinar – Key steps in meeting funding requirements

With the HEFCE Open Access deadline of 1 April 2016 fast approaching, we have received a number of queries regarding compliance. In response we will be running a webinar ‘Key steps in meeting funding requirements’ on Wednesday, 24 February at 3.30PM (GMT).

In it we will highlight a number of practical solutions already being used by institutions to help meet funder requirements. Although the impending HEFCE open access requirements are on top of most institutions’ agenda, we will also cover compliance for EPSRC and RCUK.


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Getting started with digital preservation

"The Discoverers, Pioneers, and Settlers of North and South America, from the earliest period, 982, to the present time ... With numerous ... illustrations, etc". Source: No known copyright restrictions.

“The Discoverers, Pioneers, and Settlers of North and South America, from the earliest period, 982, to the present time … With numerous … illustrations, etc”. Source: No known copyright restrictions.

Recently, I facilitated a workshop at a University. They are considering a digital preservation strategy for the university and said they “were particularly interested to hear from experts in the area before we embark on the project.” Though their aims have yet to be agreed, this University is moving towards an understanding of what they want to do. In scope at the moment are:

  • born-digital records of the university;
  • scanned library resources;
  • research data.

I spoke to a cross-sectoral committee of stakeholders, including senior managers, IT infrastructure managers, developers, librarians, project managers, and security managers, led by a project sponsor. Right away I was encouraged to see this mixture of skills and interests in the room – matters such as storage, costs, metadata, security and use cases cropped up in the questions. I think it’s only through this collaborative working that we will make progress with digital preservation; a project shouldn’t be led exclusively by IT, nor exclusively by an archivist, but by an engaged team of experts and interest groups who talk to each other from the start.

One-day Workshop – Getting started with digital preservation

I structured the day in line with an agenda. I gave slide presentations, but also facilitated a discussion about particular matters of interest to them, such as how other universities in the UK are going about planning for preservation, and whether it would be feasible for them to do a “distributed” approach, that is re-using existing systems and services to move towards preservation. I said yes. To put it another way, one isn’t obliged to purchase a single system that does digital preservation.

The committee was going to start by building a policy for digital content, and raised concerns about how to expand it to include existing practices, such as the policies and procedures they have for records management. I encouraged them to think about an integrated policy of which the aim would be digital preservation of all such content, referencing existing published policies as needed.

If their response is anything to go by, the main take-home message for this group was recognising the importance of defining use cases and getting stakeholders involved, and feeding their requirements into the preservation policy. One member of staff said to me:

“Your passion for this subject is obvious…I liked how you could explain technical things to non-specialists like me and make them possible to understand. I pretty much wrote down all your ideas for how we could approach digital preservation and take it forward”.

DART Podcast – web archiving and research data

marta_teperek_plusOur latest DART podcast  contains a compelling and fascinating interview with Dr Marta Teperek, the Research Data Facilitator at Cambridge University Library’s Research Operations Office. She attended our May Web Archiving 101 Course (featuring guest speakers Dr Peter Webster and Sara Day Thomson) and seemed to derive a lot of benefit from it. She even published a very positive blog post on the subject.

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Jisc Data Spring: Integrated RDM for Small and Specialist insitutions

Phase 1 completed

Phase 1 of the Jisc data spring programme came to an end at the start of last week with an event at Imperial College London. After pooling our ideas at an initial workshop in February, ULCC partnered with CREST, UCA, Arkivum and Leeds Trinity University for an initial 3 month period to explore integrated research data management solutions for the sort of small and specialist institutions that make up much of the CREST membership.

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Making sense of the new EPSRC guidelines

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) guidelines: What are they and how can you meet them?

After receiving an increasing number of enquiries about the new EPSRC guidelines which are coming into effect in May 2015, I decided to catch up with Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Centre, my colleagues Rory McNicholl and Timothy Miles-Board, and Matthew Addis, CTO at Arkivum to get a better understanding of what the requirements are and how institutions can meet them.

Q: When looking into the EPSRC guidelines on research funding, I couldn’t help but notice them being not as tightly defined as I would have thought. Is that deliberate?

KA: I think it is, and there are perfectly valid reasons for it, but some are uncomfortable with that. The flexibility allows for different responses from larger and smaller institutions – you just need to be able to defend what you do.

MA: This largely due to the variety of research projects and their differing objectives, both in terms of brief and data output. Some might have a mandate to be publicly accessible first, others will focus on the safety and security of the research data before being concerned about dissemination of research findings.

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SHARD: How do I preserve my research data? FAQs

From the SHARD project blog

The good people of LSE hosted a meeting in March where we (DICE, PREPARE and SHARD) decided to devise a list of FAQs on the preservation of research data. We drafted it together on a Wiki hosted by the University of Cambridge. They will eventually be hosted on the IHR website but for now here they are.

What material and data should I preserve?

To enable the use and reuse of research data over time by others it is important to ensure that you provide documentation which describes the research data as well as the context of its creation as part of the research project. Technical information about the research data should also be kept to enable its reuse. If the data is encoded then code details must be kept. So in addition to the core research material you should provide a clear introduction to the entirety of the research data to enable future understanding and use.

Documentation such as emails and other material accompanying the core research data may seem irrelevant but they will all provide important contextualisation of the research project and can be appraised for relevance. Cambridge University uses terms such as embedded, supported and catalogue data to describe data which should accompany the search data itself.

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