Top Tips for Developing Research Group-level RDM Policy

The Open Exeter and Marine Renewable Energy policy case study, published today, suggests some tips for other research groups who are thinking about designing their own research data management policies. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Research group level policy development should be collaborative and include consultation with all members of the research group as far as possible. Feedback from the research community should be listened to; participation in policy development can give researchers a sense of ownership and make the policy implementation phase easier.
  • It can be helpful to separate out the principles of a policy from the nitty-gritty of procedures; thus those who don’t wish to read a longer, more detailed document can understand the main points quickly and refer to the procedural document only when necessary.
  • Local research data management policies should be updated to reflect changes in institutional, funder and ethical, legal and commercial guidelines and these should be considered during policy development.
  • Consider institutional as well as local and discipline-specific solutions. For example, if your institution provides a data repository, would it be better to use this for the long-term storage of data, rather than local storage or should data sets be stored in a discipline-specific repository?
  • Decide on the scope of the policy; different research groups have different priorities – for example, a Psychology-based group would probably be more concerned with ethical and legal issues to do with working with human participants. It may be worth concentrating first on priority areas and rolling out a more comprehensive policy at a later date.
  • Try to balance the amount of detail in the procedural document with respecting researchers’ working habits. For example, is it necessary for all researchers to use the same system to name files?
  • Work out an estimated timetable for policy and procedure development but be flexible to reflect changing circumstances if necessary.
  • Consider the relationship between guidelines for individual projects and research group policy.
  • Tailor RDM policy and procedures to the support available to your research group. For example, a group with a dedicated Computing Development Officer may be able to put into place more bespoke solutions than a group without this support.
  • Listen to researchers’ concerns and make sure they are clearly addressed in the policy and procedural documents.
  • Provide support for the initial transition. Staff may not have time to do tasks such as consolidate and transfer old data sets to a central storage system, as they are busy with current and future work, and rarely have the time to look backwards.

Have you developed a research-group level RDM policy? Do you agree with these recommendations or have any of your own suggestions? Let us know!

Posted under Case studies, News, Policy, Research

This post was written by Hannah Lloyd-Jones on July 26, 2013

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