OK, we’ve done some work to raise the profile of research data management, it’s being talked about a lot at our Research Computing Management Group, and we’ve created communications material.
But, what difference has it made? (cue the sound of The Smiths in my head).
Like Ian Hall at University of York who is undertaking a similar project, I have been looking at putting together a survey to provide some feedback about our efforts.
In doing this I’ve drawn the conclusion that whilst the Transformations project is drawing to a close, the position of RDM within the University is that it is not so mature as to make a general impact survey a worthwhile effort. I think that in reality we are on a fairly long journey with this and it would be unrealistic to expect researchers in general to be able to provide meaningful feedback. So, do I think that we have had an impact on all researchers? No, clearly not.
There have been and continue to be difficult challenges in this area as to how best to approach RDM improvement – raising general awareness, reaching and attempting to achieve ownership and engagement by senior staff, creating pilots, targeting individual researchers or all PGRs, using existing and ad hoc researcher contacts (in my case through work in IT) etc. Of course there are also various local variables to take into account such as financial support for the work, what local priorities are currently and so on.
So, it’s not going to happen over-night – there simply isn’t the motivation or resource – and there are many individual steps, none of which will be revolutionary.
In terms of a survey then my conclusion is that to take a realistic approach I will be initially targeting those most involved with RDM work. I’ll be asking about both impact and quality of our RDM output (and comparing the responses), and knowledge, attitude and practice changes (personal, and with regard to others).