Monthly Archives: July 2013

This is the end… my only friend the end. (apologies to The Doors)

So, as the sun sets on the adventure which has been the Transformations project, some final thoughts.

  • Case Study – Completed.
  • Evaluation – Competed.
  • Digital Story – Completed.

In the last few days a number of things have been rounded off:

  1. I carried out a Jisc Resource Review to systematically examine and catalogue available Jisc resources, those which have been used within the project, those which need to be examined.  I also produced a catalogue of the Jisc MRD (Managing Research Data) projects and their respective aims, objectives and planned outputs/outcomes.  Having only been able to attempt this late on (the work being more ad hoc to this point) I realised how beneficial it was.  Having been aware of a number of the projects and met many of those responsible, it was only through doing that I got a full picture.  It leaves me with a good basis to look at project products and how they might be used/adapted/learned from here.  A lesson for Jisc then is to make this information as easy to find as possible.
     
  2. I have completed development of an Impact and Benefit Framework using this project as the test case for it in practice.  With good timing I was also able to liaise with the Evidence Gathering team working on the results of the Jisc MRD programme.
     
  3. A nine document series of Data Management/Planning guides have been completed – they include an introductory guide and others which support those applying for funds from AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC, STFC, and non-RCUK funding (Cancer Research UK, NC3Rs, NIHR, and Wellcome Trust).  Many thanks are due to the data.bris team who I worked with to create these documents.  Now to get people aware of them and to create some impact…DMPDoc
  4. After a lot of work and head scratching the required project Digital Story has been delivered.  For me this was a major task, well out of my comfort zone (long-winded reports? – I’ve been doing them for years, and whilst not quite able to do them in my sleep …) and all the better for it, requiring a different way of thinking.  Whilst I guess I could have completed this by speaking for a couple of minutes into a microphone, I thought it was worth trying to create something that could be positively used to promote RDM at the University (not hidden away in embarrassment).  Well you can only try…To be honest I’m very happy with the end result, largely because of the help I’ve had to turn a series of ideas and pictures in my head into reality.  Think… I want zeroes and ones dropping off the screen with some techy background noise… and confectionary on a cousin – well you’ll have to watch it to get that one.To cut a long-story short I think this method has lots of potential and intend to use it more to promote and describe RDM.

I work so hard, It gets so tough, Whatever I give, Never feels like enough, It’s not enough, It’s not enough, Whatever I give to RDM, It’s never enough (apologies to The Who)

In conclusion I think the Transformations programme has been a very good idea, and a real lever to get some immediate positive impact, with relatively little funding.  The Outcomes event at Aston (see previous blog) affirmed that positive feeling.

As much as anything, personally this style of working, tying the ‘day job’ to ‘research’ or ‘innovation’ (or whatever word you wish to apply) feels very productive.  Being based in a University this seems to be non-controversial (particularly working in a research related role) but sometimes feel there is a real dichotomy between ‘corporate’ and ‘research’.

One of the things I am thinking is, as Jisc MRD projects in general are also completing, is what happens now?  What really is the future of RDM within UK Universities? There are questions of how to continue to harvest benefits of Jisc MRD, and the need to foster continued and further collaboration – sharing of experience and output being a particular feature of the programme. I’d like to hear what others think about this. 

Also to the front of my mind is the need to focus on better communication and impact.  This relates to the link between output on the one hand, and outcome and impact on the other. To what degree is good work on MRD actually changing things? – awareness, understanding, attitude, behaviour, practice.  Here as elsewhere there is need for various forms of effective, flexible communication and support.  In this respect, from initial experience the use of digital storytelling does seem to have potential in terms of being a direct, short, immediately compelling medium.  It will be very interesting to survey the range of methods used nationally and internationally.

So thanks to all those I have encountered and learnt from during the last 12 months, and here’s hoping the learning and improving doesn’t stop.

A Resource, a resource, my kingdom for a resource (apologies to Shakespeare)

As dusk begins to fall on this Transformations project I have managed to spend a little time doing something that I would have really liked to have dedicated a lot more time too, a lot earlier – reviewing Jisc, Jisc related and other resources.  The purpose of this is to, a) examine the utility of Jisc resources, b) get a better idea of what is out there more generally which could be used directly or influence our own work, c) reflect on what we have used thus far (and as so much has been done over the last year I have trouble remembering, particularly the many resources we have signposted on our RDM website).

It seems obvious really, that horizon scanning should be done early (and not just because I promised it in the project bid) but on reflection now I am realising how much more would ideally have been done.  Equally so much is happening in the world of RDM that it is a real effort to keep up an on-going vigil, monitoring developments, project reports, outputs, conferences etc.  It emphasises both the need for effective, multiple channels of communication (and networks of contacts), and the realisation that monitoring developments and evaluating resources is a constant requirement.

So… does anyone else often finding themselves thinking/saying “Ah yes, I think I remember someone has done something about this and I was looking at it somewhere”?

Equally the challenge that this deluge of information and of potentially valuable resource places on me and people like me needs to be in mind when we expect researchers to be hooked by and ingest RDM related information.  There are real issues here about what is manageable, what information needs to be communicated, how and when for best effect.  This is one of the reasons I am thinking the use of Digital Storytelling could be useful within RDM to provide an immediate, interesting, short burst of information.

The land of 1,000 Resources (apologies to Pickett)

In the context of the above I was sent a spread sheet earlier in the project showing the Jisc resources which exist, could prove of use, and could be reviewed.  On this there were 177 resources of various types.

Things are also changing rapidly, most obviously because of the progress of the Jisc MRD projects, their completion and the releasing of output.  Looking at this, and continuing valuable and rewarding contact and collaboration with these projects is something I would very much like, and hope to prioritise hereon.

 So where am I now?

Although I haven’t done as much as I would have liked in the way of formal resource review to this point, it has nonetheless been a critical part of my work throughout the year, and hopefully will continue to be.  Most obviously this was the case when our RDM website was being constructed – a rapid job of searching for what resources and expertise exists.  I guess therefore our RDM website is actually really good evidence of our resource reviewing activity and showcasing what others have achieved.  In addition I have now also done more structured work, documenting,

  1.  Jisc resources already used (guidance, training, methodology, on-line tools etc.), how used and with what benefit.
  2. Specific Jisc Resources I have already looked at but need to review in more detail (currently there are 37).
  3. Jisc MRD programme outputs used.
  4. A catalogue of all Jisc MRD and related projects (their stated aims, outputs and outcomes) as a framework for on-going horizon scanning and detailed resource review.

 Thanks for reading.
Andrew