Data system, policy, training: putting people first

Steve Hitchcock

To support research data management across a large multi-disciplinary institution such as the University of Southampton you need a collection, storage and archiving system, right? Yes, but you need more than that. The proposal for the DataPool Project reveals that it will tackle three distinct developments:

  • Research Data Management System Implementation
  • Research Data Management Policy Ratification and Implementation
  • Integrated Training, Guidance and Support for Researchers

So in addition to a system you need an institutional policy setting out requirements for participation by members of the institution, and training to help them do what the policy specifies using the system provided. We will return to these three developments often in this blog as the project builds, and the next posts will set out the details of where we start for each of these developments.

But there is another crucial element, and the clues are becoming clearer – that is, people. As one of the joint project managers for the DataPool Project, with my colleague Dorothy Byatt, the brief in the project proposal contains no magic bullet that will solve the challenge of rolling out digital data management to members and all disciplines across an institution, but it begins to set out a network of colleagues to help us achieve the goal.

Since we began the project Wendy White, co-investigator from the university library, has been extending this network beyond the co-investigators named in the proposal to encompass data contacts for all eight major faculties across the university, and leaders for a series of disciplinary case studies involving different data types produced by postgraduate and undergraduate students as well as researchers. We look forward to introducing data contacts and case study leaders as we report their work here.

We will, however, introduce our team of co-investigators now because they have shaped both the proposal and the prior project, the Institutional Data Management Blueprint (IDMB), that led to where we begin with DataPool. They are:

Mark Brown (Principal Investigator), Les Carr (computer science), Simon Cox (engineering sciences), Graeme Earl (archaeology), Jeremy Frey (chemistry) and Peter Hancock (iSolutions).

We hope they will have the opportunity during the project to introduce themselves as co-contributors to this blog.

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