Good news for Open Exeter – we heard that our paper on archiving PGR data has been accepted for OR2012 in Edinburgh. We are all planning on attending so hope to catch up with other MRD02 projects in July.

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This post was written by Jill Evans on April 30, 2012

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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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Archiving PGR research data?

As we finish the third week of our investigations into RDM practice around the University, we’re a little surprised by a common factor that is starting to emerge from interviews: concern about what happens to PGRs’ data when they leave the University at the end of their studies.

We had some idea from conversations with PGRs that they themselves have questions about what happens to student data when someone leaves. The most consistent comment is that since there are no policies or guidelines of any sort, data will probably sit on a hard drive or external drive in an office somewhere until either the device fails or no-one can figure out how to access the files again.

For PGRs this is a problem for two main reasons:
• Students would like to receive recognition for their work and feel it is being valued and reused to contribute to building knowledge in their academic field. If the data is more accessible, it will have greater impact and enhance their career development.
• Typically this research data is unavailable for incoming students to build on; they will be aware that the research has taken place but due to the lack of policy on recording and storing PGR data, they (and their supervisors) have no way of locating it.

For researchers, where PGR research has been incorporated into project/research group activities, continuing access to raw data is critical.

Researchers may be aware that previous research is relevant to current students supervised but again, cannot access the original data. This can lead to reduplication of effort.

Additionally, it can be useful to have access to restrictions-free raw data as a tool to teach research skills and methodologies to incoming students.

Until this point, we hadn’t really considered that there might be a role for the project in providing continuing access to PGR data. However, there is clearly a (relatively) quick win opportunity for us here: we already mandate thesis deposit to our research outputs repository, ERIC, which we are looking at integrating with our data archive; we already allow deposit of supplementary files, such as video and audio when they’re an integral part of the thesis. It’s only a comparatively small next step to then permit (or even mandate?) deposit of underlying data. It’s an aim we will certainly incorporate into our scheme of work over the next few months.

Are other projects coming across a similar situation?

Posted under Follow the Data

This post was written by Jill Evans on March 2, 2012

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