PGR “audits”

For the first six months of the year we asked our PGR students to complete a research data management “audit” every week. This task has now ended and I am working on analysing the results so a fuller report will follow.

The audit consisted of 17 questions and asked questions such as: What file formats are the data you created this week? Please state both electronic and paper; Where was this week’s data created? i.e. Home, office, field trip etc.; and Does any of the data you created this week need to be shared? Please give details. Follow this link for a template of the questions we asked: Weekly_audit_form_template (Excel file – blog post updated 20th August 2012).

A quick analysis of the audits has thrown up a number of similarities amongst our students:

  1. They all seem to work in phases i.e. there will be a data collection phase, a writing up phase, a literature review phase etc. Although there is obviously some overlap between these phases and the length of the phase differs between all our students, the general principle does seem to hold true across all the different disciplines.
  2. All of our students create and/or analyse their data both at home and in the office on campus. A number have also been on field trips to collect data. This supports the findings of our DAF survey where research data was shown to be collected and analysed both on and off campus.
  3. Similar issues are faced by students of different disciplines. One that has shown up in the audits is the potential size of image files and the adequate filing and storage of hundreds (or even thousands) of such files so that particular images are easily found.
  4. Although our students use different file formats to each other (with the exception of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and PDF which are common to each to a greater or lesser extent) they each use only a comparatively small number of formats/file types (the most used is eight).

The audit has proved to be a mine of useful information for the project and the regular meetings I have been holding with our students has allowed me to check details and abbreviations that I didn’t recognise. Further analysis of the results will, I am sure, provide further useful information.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students, Research

This post was written by Gareth Cole on August 17, 2012

2 Comments so far

  1. Sarah Jones August 20, 2012 11:23

    This sounds great! Can you share a list of the 17 questions they answered each week?

  2. Gareth Cole August 20, 2012 13:45

    Hi Sarah,

    I’ve added a link to the template we asked our students to complete. It is an Excel file.

    Regards
    Gareth

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