Recently, a number of colleges and universities have asked for advice on how to manage the digital elements (pictures, recordings, etc) of their research data projects.
To help answer your questions we’ve created a new guide to audiovisual research data. It's not just for creative arts research, but advice for any subject area.
I’ve picked out my top five tips to get you started…
Make research data management a team effort
You’ll need the different skills and insights of researchers, information managers and media technology specialists to curate audiovisual research data effectively.
Assemble a team, involve them from the start of the research project and keep them engaged long after it ends to ensure that the data remains both available and reusable for the many different communities that may want it in future, possibly using tools that haven’t even been developed yet.
Make sure researchers know what they want to get from their data
This will help them to get a clear idea of what data they’ll need to create or collect, what formats to use and how to store data so that they can use it in the short term.
This is the first step in developing a data management plan (DMP) for the research project and you’ll need one to keep everything on track.
Once you’ve got a DMP, keep reviewing it
Encourage researchers to take a fresh look at the plan at regular intervals, certainly every time they write something up or reach a project milestone.
Do they still want the same things from the data that they did at the start? Do they need to collect different data or to work with it differently? All these are things that could scupper your digital data management efforts if you aren’t ready to make adjustments to your plan.
Plan out your approach to project curation
There are lots of potential risks that could hamper storage and use of multimedia data during the project phase from ethical and privacy issues through to intellectual property rights (IPR), and licensing. So it’s really important to set out the likely storage needs.
There’s more information on the risks in the new guide to audiovisual research data and you can also explore our guide to metadata for ideas on how metadata can help you to administer digital resources and ensure that they remain accessible and sustainable throughout the research project.
And then plan long-term data curation
Where will the data end up after the end of the initial project? This is an important compliance issue now that some research funders mandate preservation of research data for many years.
The ideal solution would be to place it in a repository, data centre or other appropriate archive. But before this can happen you’ll need to make the case for its long-term value for research and to ensure that it complies with the selection and appraisal policies of the home you’ve chosen for it.
Since it is relatively costly to archive multimedia material it’s not a foregone conclusion that the repository or datacentre will accept it and you might have to make some compromises – for example, on file size and quality. This need not have an adverse effect on its suitability for reuse in future if you take steps to preserve the significant properties of the material – talk to the specialists at the repository or datacentre about this and have a look at the UK Data Archive's advice on suitable file format.
Find out more
If you’d like more information on any of these issues, and pointers on where to get more detailed information, the new guide to audiovisual research data is the first place to look.
Your Jisc account manager will be able to offer practical advice and guidance to help you develop your own research data management processes to accommodate multimedia.