Sudamih training workshop

Thursday, 22nd July. The day started according to plan – get up 6:15: check, get to station, 6:55: check, train to Richmond 6.58: check, 4 minutes journey to catch 7:06 to Reading…. boo….stupid tube. As we sat stuck at a red signal outside Richmond station, I watched as my train to Reading whizzed by, kicking myself for not getting the earlier tube. Now I would have to wait for 30 minutes at Richmond for the next train (which meant I could have had a crucial 30 minutes more under the covers :() and more importantly call the Sudamih team to say I was going to be late…umm luckily I wasn’t speaking till 10am but still, it was going to be a little tight and I would miss out on the welcome coffee and biccies :(  Arrived into Oxford at 9:20 and after a super speedy taxi ride, arrived at Oxford’s e-research building just as everyone was going in…phew..…

As promised, the workshop proved to be wide ranging with speakers from the Digital Curation Centre, the Research Information Network, Vitae (the national researcher training body), and projects at Oxford and King’s College London. All the talks were interesting and generated useful discussions on data management training from the institutional to the national level. I won’t go into all of them as further details of the workshop and copies of presentations can be found here.

But to highlight a few: James Wilson, (project manager of Oxford’s Sudamih project) kicked off the meeting with a talk on the findings from their scoping study to assess current data management practices in the humanities.  Findings were, reassuringly, similar to ours with researchers requesting guidance and training on a range of data management issues.

So how do they propose to address these? Well, in their view there is a clear need for both broad courses and more detailed technical training. This may take the form of an introduction to data management which will be integrated into existing courses, guidance on how to organise and link research notes with sources, support with how to prepare technical bids and the creation of a database service for the humanities.  Very interesting and I can definitely see an opportunity to collaborate/share resources.

I was up next, talking about Incremental’s scoping study, our findings and how we plan to address these in terms of guidance and in particular, training.

Finally some interesting thoughts from Eric Meyer of Oxford University who reported some early findings from a study that looks at information practices of those researching in the humanities.  Of particular interest was the finding that researchers are taught disciplinary biases very early on in their careers; for example, they develop clear views on which sources of information are deemed valuable and which are not.  When it came to citation practices, researchers and students cited lots of digital publications but then indicated that they had consulted the paper version as well!  Is the digital version seen as less trustworthy?

Eric also drew our attention to the first year annual report of a 3 year study (JISC/BL) http://explorationforchange.net/attachments/056_RoT%20Year%201%20report%20final%20100622.pdf tracking the research behaviour of Generation Y doctoral students (children of the Baby Boomers, born between 1982 and 1994).  The assumption that Generation Y would be early adopters and keen users of the latest technology applications and tools in their research was, in fact, not supported by their study. On the contrary, it would appear that Generation Y doctoral students, in common with others, are quite risk averse and ‘behind the curve’ in using digital technology, not at the forefront; and this despite the fact that the majority appear to be keen users of the latest technology applications in their personal lives.

The reason for this, they propose, is not due to lack of skill but is more likely to be because the students do not see the immediate utility of the technology within their research and their preferred ways of working.  This is an important finding, and one that Incremental should bear in mind when it points researchers towards the available web 2.0 tools that are out there.

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