Three months in…

As one of the PGR students in this project I’ve learnt a lot about data management since joining Open Exeter.  The first workshop was only three months ago, yet being more aware of how I create and use my data has already helped my project.  I wasn’t given any advice about data management when I started my PhD and the number of files on my computer increased very quickly to become a mass of random folders and strange file names.  I would like to have known more about file naming and organisation before things got out of hand; reorganising everything is now a rather daunting and time consuming prospect, but I’ve learnt about different methods of organisation and file naming conventions that will help.

Talking to the project team and other students has also made me aware of software available to aid data management: dropbox, email filtering, remote desktop access and alternate referencing software.  We have also practised writing data management plans for our projects which raised the issues of confidentiality, back-up, storage and archiving.

Although, as researchers, our work is based on using and creating data, I have rarely taken the time to consider my daily data output.  I think this is something which should be considered at the very being of a piece of work so file organisation, naming, access rights, back-up procedures, methods of sharing, storage and archiving procedures are decided before you begin to generate any data.  A workshop which covered these areas for students at the start of their PhDs would be very useful.  Over the next 3-4 years this could be complemented by other relevant training or open drop-in sessions for students to raise their particular data issues.

Overall, I’m really enjoying being involved in the project.  Not only because of the benefits to my data management skills but also the chance to interact with students from various disciplines and discuss the many types of data we produce.  Before the first workshop I would never have believed the simple question ‘What is data?’ could have been so interesting, but it’s made me view my work in a whole different light.

Posted under Follow the Data

This post was written by Rebecca Claire Hunter on March 15, 2012

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