Make your data count

New developments in research data management at Oxford

Here’s an update on some of the things that we’re working on that you can look forward to over the coming year…

  • We’re getting close to releasing the new Oxford DMPonline template

DMPonline is a widely used service to help researchers complete data management plans. It already provides templates matching the various funder guidelines and contextual guidance, and we will shortly be adding an Oxford-specific overlay. This will provide additional hints and tips on how to complete the various sections of a data management plan and reference the services and infrastructure available to members of the University.

  • A high-security institutional archive for data and records that cannot be shared

The Bodleian Libraries are working towards an institutional ‘dark’ archive for university and college records and highly-sensitive research data for which the existing ORA-Data service is not appropriate. This will be a certified service meeting stringent security criteria.

  • Additional services to support ‘live’ data

We are aware that innovative and informative ways of presenting data can increase the impact that research data can have, both in terms of enabling researchers to gain insights they might otherwise miss, and in terms of the effect on public understanding. IT Services are working on methods to facilitate novel data analysis and high-quality visualizations.

  • A ‘one-click’ data deposit mechanism for depositing data and metadata from live data services (initially the ORDS) to data repositories (initially ORA-Data)

This longstanding intention has been put on-hold whilst the Bodleian conduct a review of the technologies they are using, but should be back on the table in early 2016. Whilst it may not literally be a one-click process (users will inevitably have to sign up to repository terms and conditions), this should make the process of getting research data from live services into an archive much simpler, and reduce the amount of descriptive metadata that researchers need to add by hand.

  • Better support for researchers working with sensitive personal data

We are currently in the process of scoping requirements for a ‘Participant Data Project’ (see http://blogs.it.ox.ac.uk/acit-rs-team/advice/research-data-management/participant-data-project/). This work is already ensuring that the IT Services Research Support Team have a better understanding of the workflows and technologies used by researchers in the Medical and Social Sciences, and will enable improved support in future. If opportunities are identified to automate common processes then these will be pursued.

  • Improvements to the Research Data Oxford website

Whist we are constantly updating the content on the RDO website to ensure it remains current and useful, we are now looking at ways in which we can expand its coverage to offer advice on some of the things that researchers can do with their data. This will include enabling better reproducibility, increased impact, and more innovative analysis.

  • More examples of research data management in practice

One of the challenges we’ve faced in supporting researchers with their data management has been that there are very different practices and cultures in different academic disciplines. Understandably, people would like examples of what the various funder requirements really mean to them in practice. We will therefore be working with academics across various disciplines to produce examples and case studies of good practice to try to make the abstract a little more concrete. If you would like to be involved in creating a discipline-specific case study, let us know by writing to researchdata@ox.ac.uk.

  • And much, much more

There are planned improvements to the ORDS and ORA-Data, work to better integrate Symplectic with the other parts of the RDM infrastructure is likely, and the market review that the Bodleian is undertaking is likely to lead to yet further ideas for improvements.

If you have any concerns you would like to raise, or ideas for improved research data management support at Oxford, we’d be delighted to hear from you. Please get in touch with us at researchdata@ox.ac.uk.