Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Summit of Transformations Impact

The grandly titled “Transformation Impact Summit” took place at Aston University on 20 June 2013.

Interestingly there was no programme/agenda produced prior to the even so there was little clue about how it would go.

The event was introduced and managed by Lawrie Phipps, Transformations Programme Manager.  The novel approach was taken of not focussing the day on project presentations.  Instead the day was dedicated to discussing the experiences we’ve had and reflecting on the impact that the project has had on our own ways of working and on the wider organisation.

Splitting off into self-selected groups depending on subjects of interest much of the discussion focussed on the characteristics of the Transformations projects – the challenges and benefits of such short-term, small budget research projects, particularly in comparison with conventional large projects.

Some of the issues raised about these projects were:

  1. They typically don’t have a clear start and end point.
  2. There is strong emphasis on demonstrating impact.
  3. They encourage a broader range of involvement than large projects – barriers to entry are less.
  4. They encourage people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to be involved in research projects.
  5. There was encouragement to Jisc to provide structure and clear output demands – being relatively short and small scale there are benefits of structure and clear objectives/requirements.
  6. They encourage inter-institution collaboration.
  7. There is significant impact not so much from the budget but with association with a formal project, the involvement of Jisc and need to provide evidence of progress – it provides a framework and justification to deal with issues you think are important, and have been judged worthy of support by Jisc.
  8. Debate about whether this can be regarded as ‘research’, ‘applied research’ or ‘innovation’.
  9. They provide an alternative in comparison with large projects, potentially providing good value for money – numerous projects, providing a relatively high number of opportunities for impact.

Overall there was very positive feedback regarding the nature of Transformations projects.

RDM Guidance and the Power of Collaboration

One of the project deliverables which academics have also been asking for is data management and data management planning guidance which is, a) discipline specific, and b) institution specific.

This is something I had been conscious would take a lot of time to produce.

I made a start a months ago, first looking at a document which would support researchers producing proposals for AHRC funding (on the basis that I have had a fair bit of contact with researchers at the University who are putting together AHRC bids, and have found I needed to write parts of the Je-S form).

When writing this document my suspicions were confirmed as a) this did take some time, and b) I had worrying thoughts about how many other documents would be required.

As has been the case with many other issues I also had thoughts at this point about whom, if anyone had produced or were producing similar documents.  This often proves to be the case in the world of RDM as there are numerous institutions working through Jisc ‘Managing Research Data’ projects, and we have developed relationships with people at other Universities through Jisc RDM events (nice work Jisc!).

In this case I found the University of Bristol were launching their data management planning documents through the data.bris project (data.bris.ac.uk).  Even better, I found the documents were well written and just the sort of thing I had been starting to plough though (see http://data.bris.ac.uk/research/planning/).  Even better still, making contact with Stephen Gray at data.bris I was very pleased to find that they were happy for me to pick up the documents and to re-purpose them for Leicester.

 I have now produced a number of documents which are currently out for review with members of our Research Computing Management Group. 

Document
1.   Data Management Planning – AHRC funding applicants
2.   Data Management Planning – BBSRC funding applicants
3.   Data Management Planning – EPSRC funding applicants
4.   Data Management Planning – ESRC funding applicants
5.   Data Management Planning – MRC funding applicants
6.   Data Management Planning – NERC funding applicants
7.   Data Management Planning – STFC funding applicants
8.   Data Management Planning – Non-RCUK funding applicants
9.  An introduction to managing research data – Researchers and students

I hope to launch these prior to the end of the project.

The fact that this is looking a possibility is significantly down to the co-operation of colleagues at Bristol.

Thanks!