Welcome to the new Research Data Management at Oxford blog! We shall be using this blog to communicate the latest news and information about the tools, services, training, and support we are developing to assist researchers manage their research data.
In recent years, many of the major research funders have implemented policies requiring that the data underpinning the research they fund be made available in a form that enables it to be understood and potentially re-used. Research Councils UK have published their ‘Common Principles on Data Policy’, which state amongst other things that ‘Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner’. The University of Oxford has responded by introducing its own Policy on the Management of Research Data and Records, which can be viewed, along with other guidance relating to research data management (RDM), at the central RDM website: http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/rdm/.
Good research data management isn’t purely about meeting the terms of various policies however. As researchers across all sorts of disciplines, from physics to literary studies, increasingly draw on data analysis to reach new understandings of their subjects, so new challenges arise regarding how data can most effectively be structured, stored, and kept secure. These apply even when there is no intention to publish or share the data in question. What you can do with data depends on how it is managed.
Researchers in some fields have collectively got to grips with their data management needs and begun to establish ‘best practice’. They have workflows, agreed standards, and subject repositories in which data can be deposited for long-term preservation and re-use. Other disciplines, particularly those in which data tends to be very heterogeneous, do not have such infrastructures in place, and it is here that the University of Oxford is particularly trying to offer support.
A number of projects (many funded by the Jisc) have been undertaken at Oxford to better understand researchers needs and to start putting together services and training to help where its required. These have included Supporting Data Management Infrastructure for the Humanities (Sudamih), Embedding Institutional Data Curation Services in Research (EIDCSR), A Data Management Infrastructure for Research Across the Life sciences (Admiral), the DataFlow Project, and Data Management Roll-Out at Oxford (Damaro). We are now implementing a more coordinated set of RDM services across the University, supported by staff from Research Services, IT Services, the Bodleian Libraries, and the Oxford eResearch Centre. We shall be using this blog to report progress and keep you up to date with developments.