Research Data Management Workshop provides RDM forum and training for Librarians, Campus Shared Services-IT, and Research IT

On December 18, 2015, the Research Data Management program held a workshop that was attended by thirty staff from the Library, Campus Shared Services-IT, and Research IT.  The workshop’s purpose was to discuss the research data management challenges these consultants are addressing, and to provide training on tools that can be used throughout the research data lifecycle.

Following an introduction by John Chodacki (director of the UC Curation Center in the California Digital Library), members of the team presented detailed case studies demonstrating the range of issues RDM consultants are helping with.  Jason Christopher (Research IT) talked about the broad topic of securing research data, describing the steps that the RDM program is taking in this area.  Harrison Dekker (the Library) discussed a case where he helped a student develop a codebook for their research that will allow the student to track their data management practices to ensure future reuse of the data.  Rick Jaffe (Research IT) described his interactions with a research group who asked about confidentiality issues and best practices related to a mobile app being developed on campus.

Next the attendees broke into small groups to work through these four research data scenarios:  

  • I am using a sensor from 1991 to collect data, and I need to share the data with a colleague at another institution. The software required to read this data only runs on Windows 95. Is there a way I can still share this with my colleague?
  • I am a researcher in a small department and I have been publishing my data on my department’s password-protected server, but my department is no longer going to maintain a server. What should I do to make sure that people can still find my data?
  • I’m a social sciences grad student doing qualitative research on depression and HIV status. I need to write a data management plan.  Do you have examples?  In particular I need to say where I’m going to store the data and share it.  Anything on campus?  
  • My research team is analyzing security footage from Walmart. The files are often at least 6TB in size, and we need to share them with a colleague in France.

It was especially interesting and rewarding to see how these individuals combined their different perspectives and skillsets together to provide a more complete view of the problems facing researchers as they work with data.

Next, Stephanie Simms, service manager of the DMPTool at the California Digital Library, demonstrated how researchers can use the DMPTool to develop data management plans to be submitted with grant proposals.  Attendees were invited to work along with her as she demonstrated the tool and the accompanying content (including a quick start guide and extensive guidance on evolving funder requirements and sample plans from those agencies).  

John Kratz, also of the California Digital Library, then demonstrated the DASH service, which allows researchers to deposit data sets using a researcher-friendly interface.  The data sets are stored in Merritt, a repository system managed by the UC Curation Center in the California Digital Library.  When data sets are deposited in DASH, a DOI (Digital Object Identifier) is assigned, providing a stable means of referring to the dataset.

The RDM Workshop was very successful and provided a positive ending to the first year of the campus-wide program led by the Library and Research IT.  Attendees expressed that they learned important skills and enjoyed working with colleagues from different units to understand the broader perspectives and skills needed to help campus researchers manage their data.

In the following months, the Research Data Management program has continued to offer targeted training and workshops to partners across campus as well as consulting via The program also maintains an RDM Guide that combines descriptions of services, best practices and use cases.