Farewell from the Incremental team

April 26, 2011

The Incremental project has now come to a close, so this is, sadly, our last post. 😦

With that in mind, we thought this would be a good opportunity to highlight the various resources produced during the course of the project, explain how the work will continue, and tell you how you can keep up with the team.

WHAT WE FOUND

Like all the other projects in the JISC funded managing research data programme the first phase of the project focussed on gathering researchers’ requirements. We found that many researchers (i) organise their data in an ad hoc fashion, causing difficulties with retrieval and re‐use; (ii) store their data on all kinds of media, without always considering security and back‐up; (iii) are positive about data sharing in principle, though almost universally reluctant in practice; and (iv) believe back‐up is equivalent to preservation.

We also found that researchers require clearer, readily available guidance and practical support to manage their data effectively.  For the full scoping study report, please see: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/preservation/incremental/documents/Incremental_Scoping_Report_170910.pdf

HOW WE RESPONDED:

The project  responded by raising awareness of existing guidance, support and services; providing easy to find, clear advice on new, central guidance web pages; repurposing existing guidance into more accessible formats; and, where necessary, created new resources.

For our data management guidance pages at our universities, please see:

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/dataman/

http://www.glasgow.ac.uk/datamanagement/

The generic guidance from these pages has been put on an open wiki, so it’s easier for others to copy, add to and share:

http://wiki.arts.gla.ac.uk/dmg/index.php/Data_Management_Guidance_Contents

To raise awareness and help University staff and students address concerns and hone skills, we also provided practical training in the form of workshops and seminars, which addressed key data management topics.

Various resources were produced from these seminars, including a number of short videos in which researchers and data managers share their lessons:

http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/dataman/training.html#Interviews

http://www.gla.ac.uk/services/datamanagement/training/videos/

All our work is Creative Commons licensed (BY-NC-SA), so feel free to reuse. If you use any content, please drop us a line so we can measure impact

incremental@lib.cam.ac.uk

Our resources have also been deposited in JORUM and findable by searching for ‘JISC Incremental’.

SUSTAINING WHAT WE DEVELOPED:

The resources and relationships built through Incremental will require a certain amount of ongoing sustainability work.  At Cambridge, Incremental will be handing these responsibilities over to DSpace@Cambridge, which has been involved in the project from the start and sees research data management support as part of its remit.  The University Library and DSpace@Cambridge are also bringing together a few sources to fund a 12-18 month full-time post to further develop the work of Incremental and repository projects within the University.

At Glasgow, HATII will be taking responsibility to maintain Incremental resources in the short-term while the Digital Preservation Advisory Board will ensure they’re embedded into University services thereafter.  The staff who worked on Incremental will remain within HATII working on complementary projects, where the relationships that they have built with researchers and support services will continue to serve the University.

THANKYOU!

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank  JISC, our programme manager, Simon Hodson, and the other projects in the MRD programme, the DSpace@Cambridge team, the DataTrain project team, the CAiRO project, the Digital Curation Centre and the Digital Preservation Coalition; and to all those who followed our blog!

We would like to give special thanks to the researchers, students, and support service staff who took part in our interviews, and who contributed to our data management workshops and seminar series.  We are also particularly indebted to university services for helping to embed the resources.

KEEPING IN TOUCH:

Members of the research, preservation, data management, computing technology, and library communities who are interested in Incremental’s work, or who have questions about materials which we have produced can contact us at the post-project e-mail incremental@lib.cam.ac.uk (which goes to both Cambridge andGlasgow project staff and/or their predecessors).  We welcome feedback and recommendations for future development.


Seminar on ‘Personal Data, Public Knowledge and Research Ethics. Slides now available

February 17, 2011

The drive to make research data accessible to the widest possible scholarly community through archiving and data-sharing mandates proposed by funding bodies and academic journals, raises new ethical, technical and methodological challenges.

On the 19th January 2011, the Incremental project and the Cambridge Digital Humanities Network ran a seminar on “Personal Data, Public Knowledge and Research Ethics”.

This seminar provided an opportunity for researchers, research co-ordinators, and data managers to discuss their experiences in finding practical ways of dealing with issues of consent, confidentiality, research design and relations with stakeholders.

We had two great speakers:

Dr Louise Corti from the UKDA, who talked about the support that the UKDA offers, as a repository for the social sciences and humanities; and the various aspects that researchers need to plan for when managing sensitive data, to ensure their data can be archived, shared and reused in the long term.

and Dr Libby Bishop from the UKDA/University of Leeds who talked about the Timescapes project, a qualitative longitudinal study which  explores how personal and family relationships develop and change over time.

Libby highlighted the challenges of managing longitudinal data, and the considerations, both ethical and practical, the team had, and are continuing to make, regarding data sharing and re-use of the data.

The Incremental project will be developing online resources from this seminar, including the creation of audio slideshows and Q&A videos with our speakers. We will be adding these resources to our data management guidance pages over the next few weeks, so please keep an eye out!


SEMINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: Managing Performance Data and Documentation: a free Incremental seminar at University of Glasgow

January 19, 2011

Free seminar: Managing Performance Data and Documentation

Register now athttp://tiny.cc/performancedata.

Thursday 17 February 2011, 10am-3pm (incl. lunch)

Venue: Turnbull Hall, Southpark Terrace, Southpark Avenue, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LG.  A Google map for the venue is at: http://tinyurl.com/4le623e.

Cost: Free (yes, including lunch!)

Who it’s for: Researchers, performers, research-related staff and postgraduate students working in the live and performing arts.

Register now at: http://tiny.cc/performancedata.

Research in the live and performing arts produces interesting and varied types of documentation and data, including text, images, audio and video.  On Thursday 17 February, we will bring together researchers and performers working in the live and performing arts across the UK, to inspire and provide guidance for better management of these materials.

  • In the morning session, a panel of researchers and artists from across the UK will share inspirational case studies about how they tackled their data management challenges.
  • In the afternoon, experts from the University of Glasgow will provide guidance on varied data types used in the live and performing arts, and raise awareness of specific support available for researchers and students at the University.

Researchers, performers, postgraduate students and research-related staff working in the live and performing arts are all very welcome.  Registration is required, but free.

Please register as soon as possible to attend – registration closes at 12 noon on Monday 14th February.  For more information, a full programme and to register, please visit http://tiny.cc/performancedata.

Any questions?  Please email Laura Molloy, at: Laura.Molloy[at]Glasgow.ac.uk.

This free seminar will take place on Thu 17 February 2011, 10am – 3pm (including lunch) at the Turnbull Hall, Southpark Terrace, Southpark Avenue, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LG.

This seminar is supported by the JISC Incremental project at the University of Glasgow, which aims to help researchers across all disciplines to manage and care for their research data and records.  Incremental ’s website is at: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/preservation/incremental/glasgow.html.

Free seminar: Managing Performance Data and Documentation

Thursday 17 February 2011, 10am-3pm (incl. lunch)

Venue: Turnbull Hall, Southpark Terrace, Southpark Avenue, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LG.  A Google map for the venue is at: http://tinyurl.com/4le623e.

Cost: Free (yes, including lunch!)

Who it’s for: Researchers, performers, research-related staff and postgraduate students working in the live and performing arts.

Register now at: http://tiny.cc/performancedata.

 

Research in the live and performing arts produces interesting and varied types of documentation and data, including text, images, audio and video.  On Thursday 17 February, we will bring together researchers and performers working in the live and performing arts across the UK, to inspire and provide guidance for better management of these materials.

 

· In the morning session, a panel of researchers and artists from across the UK will share inspirational case studies about how they tackled their data management challenges.

· In the afternoon, experts from the University of Glasgow will provide guidance on varied data types used in the live and performing arts, and raise awareness of specific support available for researchers and students at the University.

 

Researchers, performers, postgraduate students and research-related staff working in the live and performing arts are all very welcome.  Registration is required, but free.

 

Please register as soon as possible to attend – registration closes at 12 noon on Monday 14th February.  For more information, a full programme and to register, please visit http://tiny.cc/performancedata.

 

Any questions?  Please email Laura Molloy, at: Laura.Molloy[at]Glasgow.ac.uk.

 

This free seminar will take place on Thu 17 February 2011, 10am – 3pm (including lunch) at the Turnbull Hall, Southpark Terrace, Southpark Avenue, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LG.

 

This seminar is supported by the JISC Incremental project at the University of Glasgow, which aims to help researchers across all disciplines to manage and care for their research data and records.  Incremental ’s website is at: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/preservation/incremental/glasgow.html.

 

 

 

Free seminar: Managing Performance Data and Documentation


Attending the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC10)

December 21, 2010

Saturday 4th December – After a couple of movies, lunch and 40 winks, I touched down safely in Chicago. They call it the windy city, but as I exited the ‘L’ (Chicago’s equivalent to the tube) downtown, I was hit by minus degree temperatures and the realisation that my M&S gloves were not going to cut it…

This was my first  time to the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC). The theme this year was ‘growing the curation community’, a theme very relevant to the aims of Incremental and I was keen to use this opportunity to, not only tell everyone about Incremental (my first victim had been the lady at immigration, when she asked why I was in the US…), but to hear what others are doing in the field both in the UK and US.

The programme promised some interesting speakers, and it didn’t disappoint. The two highlights for me were Chris Lintott, Astronomer and PI of Galaxy Zoo and MacKenzie Smith, Associate Director for Technology at MIT Libraries, who presented two different perspectives on digital curation.

Chris Lintott gave a fascinating talk describing a number of projects which use crowd sourcing,  such as Galaxy Zoo which gets the public to classify galaxies imaged as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and Old Weather which uses the public to digitise weather observations recorded in ship’s logbooks.

MacKenzie Smith talked about how digital curation tends to be viewed through a technology lense but an alternative view is seeing curation from an organisational perspective. She described the various layers of digital curation such as storage, management, linking, discovery, delivery and management of data, and that rather than just one institution or group, it is a combination of research groups: professional societies, data centres, libraries and archives, businesses, universities and funding agencies all interoperating in digital curation. The question is how and what role they, should they play in digital curation?

Presentations given by other JISC funded research data management or training projects such as James Wilson of Oxford, Robin Rice from Edinburgh and Wendy White of Southampton, were also of great interest.

On the Wednesday afternoon, we got to present our paper ‘Making sense: talking data management with researchers’. We were given a slot in the ‘Digital Curation Education’ parallel session and were able to describe our approach and plans for support and training researchers in data management.

It was interesting to hear the other presentations in this session, particularly as these served to highlight the different approaches that the UK and the US are taking in digital curation education.   Whilst the UK is focusing on researchers’ data management practice, the US are focusing very much on educating the library community in digital curation. One issue, two different approaches.

I think hearing both data creators and data managers talk about the challenges of data curation, the clear message that I took away from the conference, was that researchers clearly have the expertise in creating and using their data, but that they do not need to manage their data alone. Data curation is clearly a collaborative effort and other services such as IT, Libraries can play a key role too, by support ing researchers to make informed decisions.


Costing data management

November 8, 2010

There have been a few events of late on costing research data management. Two that I’ve attended are:

Roles and responsibilities were a key theme. Is data management the concern of researchers, their institutions, funders or disciplinary data centres? At the RDMF, Jeff Haywood, Vice Principal for Knowledge Management at University of Edinburgh, described the institution as the place of last resort for preserving data. They hope to direct researchers to external data centres where possible but are concerned to keep a register of the data so they know where their assets are and can act to secure these if external services are under the threat of closure.

A breakout session at the RDMF on institutional solutions versus national data centres reached a similar conclusion. It isn’t a matter of choice – we have to live with a mixed landscape. It was argued there should be more services at local level: a sort of first step data management service. A series of handovers could then scale up to various levels as appropriate based on the nature of the data, the available infrastructure and the specific requirements of each case. Jeff’s argument holds well in this scenario – HEIs don’t need to provide a complete infrastructure, just add to existing provision where required and most importantly know what they own and where this is.

At the JISC workshop, Andrew Bush of KPMG addressed how costs can be built into research funding bids when there’s a gap in provision.  He recommended that data management support costs should be recovered through indirects, as this is apparently where research councils see them being placed. He advised not to class data management infrastructure as research facilities, as the cost of these should only be applied when the facility is used by a project – not on every bid – so you need to work at capacity. Also, as projects typically draw on data management infrastructure once finished, it’s better to include this as an indirect cost. It seems research funders are willing to meet data management costs but it’s quite an untested area so examples of how people have costed in support would be welcome.

One aspect where headway has been made is in defining some of those costs. The JISC MRD projects have been asked to identify researcher needs and pilot services to address these. At Leicester they’ve been investigating the provision of ‘good enough’ data centres, which provide robust but cheaper storage to researchers. The cost comparison was £400 per Tb per year versus the usual £1 a Gb a day on university SANs. Jonathan Tedds reported that the reception to this has been overwhelming, as researchers often struggle to manage their own storage and back-up efficiently. Comparable charges were noted by other JISC projects too.

More work is underway across the MRD programme on defining benefits and business models for sustainability. This will be presented at the International workshop in Birmingham in March 2011.


Decoding the Digital

August 3, 2010

This time last week, Catharine and I attended the joint DPC and BL Preservation Advisory Centre workshop: Decoding the Digital . So, what was it all about? Well, Caroline Peach began by explaining their intentions in putting the event on. Much is similar between traditional collection care and digital preservation, so rather than differentiating between our work, we were encouraged to build on and learn lessons from each other’s practices.

The theme of the day – defining a common language – helped make sure these intersections were addressed. Gareth Knight spoke about InSPECT and their work on significant properties. He acknowledged this to be a very opaque digital preservation term, but promptly gave a clear definition: they’re the characteristics you feel must be preserved for your data to remain accessible, usable etc. Our talk, given by Catharine, also reflected on the language being used, as we’ve found many researchers are bamboozled by terms such as ‘digital curation’ and ‘data management’. As William Kilbride concluded, we’ve spent the last 10 years working on this and have managed to make it harder for other to get started by using such fancy words to express ourselves!

There were several useful talks for our project, specifically Joel Eaton’s explanation of the points to consider when choosing file formats and Alexandra Everleigh’s pragmatic description of how to curate digital material on virtually no budget and little practical experience. I found these a very encouraging case for action. Procrastination and theorising won’t save digital material. Even if we’re not certain of the right approach (and can we ever be?), we need to take some practical action. The kind of guidance and support we’re aiming for will have the same ‘no-nonsense’ approach.

Thanks to DPC, BLPAC and all the speakers for giving us more ideas.


Sudamih training workshop

July 30, 2010

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.