Jisc invests in improving research data management

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Researchers in the UK are set to benefit from the development of new services sourced from the community which look to overcome the biggest challenges in the sector, through Jisc’s 'research data spring'.

Research data spring is an initiative to create innovative partnerships between researchers, librarians, publishers and developers to develop new solutions to common research problems. Such issues include data being difficult to find and therefore re-use, and different data management systems being poorly integrated, making it challenging for researchers to work with one another.
When the project launched last year 70 ideas for solutions were submitted, 44 of which were shortlisted for further consideration at a workshop in late February. Following discussions and collaborative development work some projects merged, leaving 27 pitches. Of these 17 strong ideas have now been selected for funding by a panel of judges.
The projects include:

  • A consortium comprising Arkivum, CREST, the University for the Creative Arts (UCA), Leeds Trinity University and the University of London Computer Centre (ULCC) which aims to develop a package of RDM tools and services for small and specialist institutions. For example UCA is looking to work with EPrints to implement an open source approach to research data management in the visual arts which would benefit the researchers that are working with large, complex, multimedia data and datasets. This means that visual arts data, which is currently managed extemporarily will be automatically preserved, curated and made available;
  • The University of East London has been awarded funding for a proposal to unlock UK thesis data. The organisation’s idea is to introduce students to persistent identifiers and the new data sharing standards. There are several benefits to this, including universities being able to raise the profile of their doctoral research and researchers having easy access to a wealth of data from PhD thesis. The project has prompted significant interest from other institutions, including St Andrews University and the London School of Economics who have volunteered to pilot the project; and
  • The University of Edinburgh and the University of Manchester have been awarded funding to develop a data vault that will ensure active data (data which is currently being used) can be fully archived, so it is not lost and is pushed out for other projects. This will mean researchers are able to empty their active storage (cloud, external drives, etc) while properly archiving the data, so that it can be made accessible and it will be physically usable in the long term.

Over the next three months the successful project teams will work on their ideas, bringing news of their progress to another workshop in summer, when they will decide the next steps and pitch for further funding. Following this, more funding will be released for selected projects enabling continued development of prototypes ready for a final showcase event in summer 2016.

Rachel Bruce, deputy chief innovation officer at Jisc, said: 'While the new Research Councils UK policies and the Horizon 2020 data pilot are laying the foundations for research data management (RDM) to be part and parcel of what researchers do, there is still a need to make access and re-use of data as painless and as rewarding as possible. By inviting those working in the sector to contribute their ideas we hope to foster innovative partnerships.
'Our aim is to develop new solutions and protocols that will make it much easier for everyone to find, share and retrieve research data across different subject areas and disciplines.'