With thanks to Carlos Silva, KAPTUR Technical Manager, for the following blog post. The Digital Curation Centre’s (DCC) Research Data Management Forum was held at Madingley Hall, Cambridge from 14th to the 15th November 2012; presentations from the event are available online.
“Technology aspirations for research data management”
The take-home message for the day was that IT will need to be more involved with research and their collaboration will have an impact for future grants, projects and sustainability.
Jonathan Tedds presented lessons learned from University of Leicester via projects such as the UK Research Data Service (UKRDS) pathfinder study and Halogen as well as from other projects such as Orbital. Jonathan covered ‘top-tips’ to get researchers’ attention and how to develop software as a service through the BRISSkit project (Biomedical Research Infrastructure Software Service kit).
Steve Hitchcock covered lessons learned from DataPool on building RDM repositories. The project was specifically to do with SharePoint and EPrints however KAPTUR did get a mention as an example of other projects using EPrints and not re-inventing the wheel. Published in July 2012, an application in the EPrints Bazaar called Data Core:
“Changes the core metadata and workflow of EPrints to make it more focused for as a dataset repository. The workflow is trimmed for simplicity. The review buffer is removed to give users better control of their data.”
Paul O’Shaughnessy from Queen Marys, University of London, spoke about how their IT services are changing and how different parts of the university needed to be involved in making this happen. The University currently has around 16,000 students; they started an IT transformation programme, because their original set-up was not fit-for-purpose, for example there were 7 different email systems. After creating a strategic plan for the next 5 years they realised that a third of their funding income comes from research grants so investing in IT infrastructure to support this was crucial. They were investing from 3 – 4% whereas other Russell Group Universities tend to invest from 5- 10%. They followed a greenfield approach and mentioned the importance of letting the staff know that it was not just IT who will need to be involved and not just another project. An interesting number was that 25% of HSS grant applications were lost because of poor IT sections.
The aim of the Janet brokerage services is to become a community cloud of available resources, by:
- developing frameworks and procurement structures such as DPS to facilitate access to services
- working with DCC and JISC to ensure sensible requirements and priorities
- hoping to get to a conclusion early next year about these services (Janet is currently in talks with Google AWS, Dropbox and Microsoft Azure will probably follow)
There was a comment about limitations with Dropbox but also possibilities that universities may be able to use it in the future and overcoming the current issues of storing research data outside the EU.
Other topics and interesting points from the discussion:
- Suggestion that just as there are Faculty Librarians, we should have Faculty IT people.
- Recommendation to negotiate resources with IT, for example if there is someone with the skills try not to use that person to fix printers but for something more productive.
- A Russell Group University mentioned that 1TB of data stored over 30 years will cost close to £25,000.
Break-out session on the Engineering and Physcial Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
There was discussion about the research data that they expect projects to make available. They mentioned the importance of joining and gathering together all metadata; and of bringing IT together; a drip feeding of information (for example through OAI, SWORD, other protocols to transfer information and allow metadata to be harvested).
Overall it was a good workshop which provided different points of view but at the same time made me realise that all the institutions are facing similar issues. IT departments will need to work more closely with other departments, and in particular the Library and Research Office in order to secure funding and make sustainable decisions about software.
Finally a ‘flexible’ yet, intelligent approach should be taken from IT for example the use of PRINCE2 methods do not fit research projects as they all change during the duration of the project. The Agile methodology should be used; involvement and knowledge about this from IT should be expected.