How do we view a project like DataPool? What are we hoping to achieve? These are important questions that need to be kept in mind throughout the life of the project. It can be easy to become focused on specific tasks. Projects can be seen as simply “a project” with a fullstop and an end, but DataPool is more than “just” a project testing ideas and systems. It will do that, but we hope that it will do much more. DataPool is about beginning the process of embedding the management of research data into the infrastructure and culture of our institution. DataPool is here to make a difference and to make it throughout the research life cycle, from proposal to storing and sharing.
The bedrock underpinning the project will be a Research Data Management Policy for the University. This will be key to all the other work and will inform the related guidance and training requirements. Its development is being seen as an iterative process with views of the academic community initially being gathered through designated “data” contacts within the Faculties. The policy will be valuable in informing data management processes in the University, influence plans where required by funders and will be a significant benefit arising from the DataPool project. We would hope by the end of the project to see an increased number of references to the policy within research proposals, resulting over time in an increased number of datasets held securely and in a location that makes them available for re-use.
The increased focus on research data, its management, storage and sharing requires that the systems offered within the University of Southampton are adapted and developed so that they can meet this need. DataPool will be of benefit to this process. DataPool will work to inform the decisions concerning the technical infrastructure of the institution to provide a simple deposit system that will also facilitate sharing at the appropriate time and under approved conditions. This will be geared towards the individual researcher, influenced by case studies and discipline exemplars, with the aim of seeing how best it can support the research data workflow and capture metadata from existing University systems. By the end of the project we would expect to have enhanced the storage and deposit options available, and seen an improved uptake of them.
The start of the data life cycle is long before the creation of any data and really begins with the research proposal. We plan to draw together a network of services that will support the researcher from proposal to deposit. This will draw on existing services and expertise, both internal, such as our Research and Innovation Service, Doctoral Training Centres, Library, and external ones, such as the Digital Curation Centre. We aim to create: guidance sheets; training materials; and to offer workshops and a web site. These will enhance the support that academic, professional and support staff can provide, whether for writing plans or advice on versioning through to different levels and types of metadata. We would see the establishment of a central web site as an important step in this area. The creation of this support will be a direct benefit arising from the Datapool project.