Follow the Data – end of project feedback from Ruth Farrar

The Open Exeter project began with a structured method of involvement: weekly data management audit forms and face-to-face meetings with Dr. Gareth Cole every two to three weeks. Initially, I found this approach beneficial for three main reasons. First, as I work remotely from campus, it was nice to have a regular check in with the Open Exeter team as it encouraged open lines of communication and getting to know the team better. Second, the data management audits enabled me to regularly reflect on my own data management practices which in turn helped me understand the project’s wider issues of data management. Third, I found the face-to-face meetings with Dr. Cole useful at the start of the project as it provided a friendly space to discuss data management issues, gain advice and ask any questions about the project.

Though as the months progressed, I felt I was repeating some of the same information on my audit form which in turn meant there was little new material to add in the meetings. Perhaps, the audit form phase could have stopped sooner in the process as it may have been more productive to get us to move on to another structured project. However, I understand the audit forms needed to be carried out over a significant period of time.

Throughout the project, I liked how we were invited to numerous events by the Open Exeter team as this promoted a sense of inclusion and better awareness of data issues throughout the entire university. For instance, being given a table at the Digital Scholarship  Showcase on 28th May, 2012 proved a useful platform to share my research and data management issues.

The Open Exeter project also gave me an opportunity to hone my communication, organisational and pedagogic skills. During a PhD researchers workshop on 22nd June, 2012, I helped lead a ‘Speed Data Dating’ session which was equally fun and informative.

I also practiced speaking and listening skills in meetings with fellow PhD Open Exeter researchers. I found these meet ups invaluable. The number of group meetings were also evenly spaced throughout the project. I started the Open Exeter project in the first year of my doctoral studies. I benefitted greatly from listening to data management advice from researchers in their second and third years. I understand our newly created survival guide helps fill in this need for advice. However, I still found the face-to-face meet ups the most helpful part of the Open Exeter project. I wonder if first year students would benefit from talking to fellow students from second and third year in their department about data management issues. I am sure there are many students who would volunteer for a buddy/mentoring system to add another credential to their CVs. First year PhD researchers may also take a deeper interest in important data management issues if it was communicated by another fellow student as they may be eager to learn how to avoid common data management pitfalls.

From my perspective, the meetings with Jill, Gareth, Hannah and the PhD researchers helped me consider how the way I manage data now will have an impact on my research in my final year. I absorbed so much new information I would not have previously considered let alone have known the specific questions to ask. I enjoyed learning about data management topics ranging from the Freedom of Information Act to the advantages of academic depositories like ERIC.

Helping assist at the Information Stand and workshops during Open Access Week in October, 2012, marked another highlight of my involvement with the project. When I was able to confidently explain data management issues to students who came to the stand, it made me realise how much I had learned throughout the Open Exeter Project. Attending the workshops also highlighted the impact social media networks can have on disseminating research data to the public.

The provision of an iPad on the Open Exeter project also introduced me to effective methods for disseminating data online and between apps. My iPad rapidly became an essential tool for managing data particularly when working remotely. The iPad proved invaluable as it afforded me a new-found workflow freedom to edit, store, back up my field recordings and share data with users in the UK while simultaneously carrying out research on site on a project in America.

Overall, the Open Exeter project generously provided me with practical tools, useful advice and an excellent introduction to issues surrounding open access research and data management. Jill, Gareth and Hannah were a real pleasure to work with as their friendliness, enthusiasm and sincere kindness remained consistent throughout my time on the project. Ultimately, my involvement in the project has positively shaped the ways I consider saving, storing and sharing my doctoral research data.

Posted under Follow the Data, PGR students

This post was written by Jill Evans on January 21, 2013

Comments are closed.

More Blog Post