Sunday, 15 December 2013

Managing Research Data

Now that my team at work have taken on creating and maintaining the university's data repository, one of the goals on my current PDP is to learn more about research data management. More specifically, one of the actions related to this goal was to read Graham Pryor's book, helpfully entitled Managing Research Data (for the full reference see the end of this post). I figured there was a clue in the title as to how useful this book was likely to be.

Having now read the book, I can state that this book was, in fact, incredibly worthwhile reading. The book has 10 chapters, and I ended up making notes on six of them. I've written up comprehensive notes and thoughts and added these to RefWorks (see, I am making an effort to use it), but some of the most useful points and my key thoughts are below.

In her chapter on the life-cycle of data management, Higgins talked about the importance of having a collection development policy for a data repository, which I really think will be necessary for us, as we have limited storage space. The ability to refer to a collection development policy to state why we will and won't take certain types of data could be invaluable. Related to this was Ellen Collin's discussion on how certain data repositories make decisions on whether or not to collect data, and these could be considered when writing our collection development policy.

A theme running through a number of the chapters was a discussion of why some researchers aren't keen on making their data openly available (and, more broadly, objections to managing their research data in general), and in contrast, the positive reasons for doing so. All of these arguments are helpful to be aware of when discussing research data management with researchers, and go some way towards pre-empting their questions and concerns.

Finally, Sheila Corrall provides a list of questions that Witt and Carlson asked researchers when they were trying to identify potential research dataset additions for their data repository. One of our current actions at work is to talk to researchers at the university about their data and data management plans, and this set of questions could be a useful starting point for us if we're not sure where to begin these conversations.

So, overall, this has been a really helpful book - both in terms of helping me understand more about the issues surrounding managing research data as a librarian (and for libraries generally), and enabling me to come up with ideas and plans to support our current work.

 Reference: Pryor, G. (ed). (2013). Managing Research Data. London: Facet Publishing.

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