Benefits from the Infrastructure Projects in the JISC Managing Research Data Programme
Benefits report available here:
JISC’s Managing Research Data programme has, with an investment of nearly £2M, funded a strand of eight Research Data Management Infrastructure (RDMI) projects to provide the UK Higher Education sector with examples of good research data management.
The RDMI projects have identified requirements to manage data created by researchers within an institution, or across a group of institutions, and then piloted research data management infrastructures at institutional, departmental or research group level, to address these requirements.
This report provides an analysis and synthesis of the benefits from this work identified by the eight RDMI projects in their benefits case studies, the benefits and enhancements that accrued to existing tools and methodologies from them, and the emerging business cases (as of June 2011) for sustainability being built by the RDMI projects.
Section 3 of the report provides, for each of the projects, a short synopsis of the benefits and any potential metrics identified.
Section 4 provides a similar synopsis of the benefits gained via the two programme support projects.
To help assess future sustainability, projects have considered the costs, benefits and alignment with institutional strategy of any proposed solutions and provided examples of how universities may make effective, reasoned and costed decisions concerning the implementation of data management policies and infrastructure. It is not possible at this point to give a definitive view on costs and sustainability as this will accumulate and form over a longer time period. The RDMI business cases are starting to be finalised and reviewed by their institutions. In section 5, the emerging indications from 4 projects that had draft business cases by April 2011 are synthesised under three main themes for research data management infrastructure: training and guidance; policy; and technical infrastructure and tools.
In total, the projects have been able to accumulate an impressive body of evidence of the benefits (and potential metrics) from the programme. The projects were on average of 18 months duration so this report and the project work on which it is based, should be seen as a provisional assessment of those benefits. Their full impact may only be apparent and measured over a longer timespan.
Key Benefits Identified Include:
Ability to cite shared data (Admiral Project):
'There will be little recognition for good practice curation and sharing of research data unless the practice of citing data used is better encouraged and standard formats and mechanisms for data citation developed. ADMIRAL addresses this by working with the British Library to provide for Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to be assigned to published datasets.' [p.13]
The work of the Admiral Project to provide an easy to use, two-tier research data management platform is being taken forward by the DataFlow Project. http://www.dataflow.ox.ac.uk/
Integrated thinking around research data management (IDMB Project):
'The IDMB project has developed an integrated data management framework for the University of Southampton. It includes: policy, governance and legal issues; services and infrastructure; gap analysis, and metadata strategy'. [p.14]
Enhanced data sharing and discovery (FISHnet Project):
'FISHNet improves data sharing by indexing all datasets submitted to the system and providing corresponding search facilities. This index also integrates information from the FBA’s extensive freshwater library catalogue, image archive and hosted freshwater science websites, allowing users to discover not only datasets but also supporting material such as journal articles, books and images. The deposit of a dataset with the repository will fall into three categories, in which increasing levels of benefit are offered to the depositor in return for an increasing willingness to share the dataset. This is thus a “carrot” to encourage openness and data sharing. Measurements of the number of data requests or downloads from each category will provide feedback on the usefulness of this approach.' [p.15]
Coordinated Support for Research (HALOGEN Project):
'The development of central IT Services for the research community is a key part of Leicester’s current IT Strategy. For many years central IT support at Leicester had been focused on supporting corporate services and systems. Through this project, the IT Services function has developed and enhanced the competencies needed to support designing and supporting multidisciplinary research databases and geospatial tools and techniques.' [p.16]
The experience of the Halogen Project to provide centralised platform for research data management is being applied to the BRISSkit Project.
Research efficiency, rapid access to data (I2S2 Project):
'It is estimated that implementation of I2S2 can reduce a typical one-day latency of data access down to an average of around five minutes: this is seen by the researchers as one of the key benefits of I2S2. It has very high impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the research by shortening time gaps and leading to a more rapid progression towards final publication.' [p.18]
Clear and accessible guidance (Incremental Project):
'The Incremental Project provided clear and accessible guidance by creating centralised university data management websites, repurposing or reproducing existing resources, and signposting relevant services. The project has also created original resources to address gaps in provision, providing training courses and teaching resources for the University communities (and beyond), and making all of these resources easy to reuse and repurpose. … Stakeholder evaluations of Incremental web resources confirm the project’s findings from the scoping study, that researchers want centralised links to services, and they indicate that researchers will use Incremental’s resources to gain information on data management services as well as practices.' [pp.21-2]
Improving data management plans, policies and institutional settings (MaDAM Project):
'The MaDAM project has produced a Landscape Review document on Policies, Legal & Ethical Perspectives, Stakeholders and Institutional Settings. A Data Management Planning component has been included in the infrastructure to provide adequate metadata and guidance for its users. Users have been provided with assistance in the development of Data Management Plans (DMPs), both through a series of workshops, and also with in-tool support (eDMP). The in-tool support consists of a series of help pages which advise the researcher on data management planning, funding body policies, contacts etc, as well as intelligent functions such as automatic review dates. MaDAM has also developed an interface with the Research Office’s Research Management Systems to make the completion of DMPs less laborious, allowing us to populate part of the eDMP with information from such systems.' [pp.23-4]
Cost Savings through Centralisation and Virtualisation (Sudamih Project):
The cost savings of moving the Oxford Roman Economy Project over to a centrally managed and supported Database as a Service are estimated to be 37%, in the form of staff time in database creation and maintenance, as well as infrastructure costs. [p. 26]
The work of the Sudamih Project to provide a cloud-hosted Database as a Service is being take forward by the VIDaaS Project http://vidaas.oucs.ox.ac.uk/