better policies for managing research data


Research data management issues for institutions

Capacity Strengthening-Standards for the management of data are currently sporadic with some disciplines better organised than others. As more national funders mandate effective data management and deposit researchers are turning to their Institutions for support when drawing up data management plans, depositing data and considering ethical and legal matters. Institutions need to build appropriate policy frameworks to address these issues. They also need to address training requirements at different levels within their organisations in order to embed the concept of good research data management and to ensure that a robust system of support can be offered to those communities who require it. 

Incentives -Much of the recent literature published on this topic has identified the need for reward and recognition systems to be put in place to incentivise researchers to properly manage, share and re-use their data. It is argued that until good data management practice is properly recognized in the academic career system and research process, current practices will remain unchanged.  

The 2012 EC recommendation on access to and preservation of scientific information calls for publicly funded academic institutions to put in place mechanisms that enable and reward the sharing of research data i.e. alternative careers assessment, metrics and indicators. 

Advocacy-Institutions can also play an important advocacy role for raising awareness of the importance of good data management among various discipline groups and research communities.

Progress to date 

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) considers it a priority to promote and support good research data management and sharing for the benefit of UK Higher Education and Research. The JISC Managing Research Data programme aims to improve practice in research data management planning across UK Higher Education and Research Institutions through piloting essential research data management infrastructures and stimulating the acquisition of appropriate skills among academics and research support staff.

The Digital Curation Centre (DCC) based in the UK is a centre of expertise in digital information curation and aims to strengthen capacity and skills for research data management across the UK's higher education and research community. The DCC can work with institutions to help enhance their understanding of current data practice, re-designing data support services, policy development and training. Further information on the DCC supports to institutions can be viewed here.

The ODE project is an FP7 funded project consisting of the members in the Alliance for Permanent Access (APA) which supports the investment for data re-use, sharing and preservation. In June 2012 ODE issued a Report on best practices for citability of data and on evolving roles in scholarly communication. This report sets out the current thinking on data citation best practice and presents the results of a survey of librarians asking how new support roles could and should be developed. 

SIM4RDM guidance and resources 

As part of its work determining the funding programmes and interventions already being used across different member states SIM4RDM surveyed a number of higher education and research institutions in the second quarter of 2012. In total 107 institutions responded. Over one third (37%) of the institutions who responded indicated that they had a policy on research data management. The main factors driving the establishment of a data management policy at Institutional level were listed as compliance with funder requirements and adherence to a national or institutional code of conduct. 25% of the institutions that responded indicated that they create incentives to deposit data. These included provision of a trusted reliable infrastructure, free data publishing services and translation of metadata into English. 

Following implementation of its Evidence Gathering phase SIMRDM makes the following recommendations for Institutions: 

  • Institutions should develop data management policies that address the following;  responsibilities and roles involved in research data management, training and support, access and re-use, security and long term preservation/curation
  • Institutions need to build a trustworthy infrastructure and create workflows for data publishing and archiving 
  • Institutions should reward and recognise researchers not only for publications but also for research data

Based on the evidence gathered to date SIM4RDM partners are currently in the process of developing a model and blueprint which can be used by programme ownders to design and run funding programmes targeted at achieving measurable improvement in the provision of research data management across a range of potential case studies and instances. In essence this will provide a blueprint for programme owners wishing to fund activities to improve research data management skills and support. Once available this document will be posted here.