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Supporting research data management at your library

July 13, 2021

Academic libraries increasingly offer Research Data Management (RDM) services to their patrons and my library is no different. My interest in RDM began while in graduate school and over the past several years I have worked on turning my interests into action. The term “research data management” gets thrown around a lot and it is useful to define what I mean by it here. To me (and I would suspect a lot of you), research data management is the process of organizing, storing, preserving, and sharing your research data. In general, RDM involves the daily, everyday management of data throughout the lifetime of your research project. It is also worth noting that when I say “data” I am referring to all data types, not just numerical data. There are infinite research projects that our patrons are working on and data is always being found, collected, stored, and hopefully preserved. National and international funding agencies have been requiring Data Management Plans (DMPS) for years. In addition to being required, DMPs serve as helpful tools for researchers who are deliberate and specific when creating them. Assisting faculty researchers on my campus with creating effective DMPs is how I began offering research data management services at my local campus.

When I began offering one-on-one DMP appointments I realized how little faculty researchers knew about how to create them. And then I realized how little faculty cared about seeing them through, which was a bit depressing. I understand that researchers are quite busy and the process of jumping through all sorts of funding hoops can be stressful and daunting. It was with this in mind that I began, in earnest, to share my knowledge and expertise of DMPs and RDM with my local research community. After a few individual appointments I decided to create a more formal workshop on creating effective DMPs and I have been slowly offering it to small groups of researchers. Their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and I used these connections as steppingstones to create new RDM workshops.

Over the last month I have created four additional RDM presentations to complement my DMP presentation. Practicing good RDM skills can be daunting, and it is often pushed aside to meet other research commitments. It is my hope that by offering more of these workshops – at an earlier date – will allow researchers to feel more confident in practicing these skills before it is too late. Additionally, my goal with creating several workshops was to deliver this information in bite-sized pieces. Few research faculty are on campus during the summer so I have yet to offer these workshops but topics include: data management and sharing; data discovery and storage; file naming and version control conventions; writing data management plans, and more. Though I would not consider myself an expert in any of these areas, I have spent a lot of time teaching myself and learning from others. If you or your library are interested in learning more, or offering RDM services yourselves, I have compiled a brief list of resources below that have significantly helped me in my pursuit.

If you are currently offering RDM services or are hoping to in the future, please leave a comment below! What have your successes looked like? Have you experienced any failures that have frustrated you? Is your campus community receptive to the support? Feel free to ask me any questions as well; I am happy to assist if I can.

Books on research data management

Online courses/resources to learn more


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