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Research Data Management e-course


Photo by Andres Tennus: University of Tartu Library

In Estonia, the University of Tartu Library and the UT Natural History Museum have collaborated for a long time. Natural scientists initiated the university's joining of the DataCite in 2014 to provide DOIs for research data and register the metadata of datasets. It is essential for a researcher to be visible in academia and to get citations and recognition for all parts of their work. 

Since that time, the UT Library has been developing research data services and the institutional DataDOI repository for research data. Open Access weeks have been organized since 2009 and UT Library is the OpenAIRE NOAD from then until now.
Open science is based on open access to publications and open research data. Although Estonia does not have a clear-cut open science policy yet, our researchers have been involved in Open Science because, on the one hand, it is required by the European Commission and, on the other hand, it is practised by scientific communities worldwide.

The University of Tartu Library has been teaching the basics of research data management since 2015. About 400 doctoral students have passed the elective PhD course Introduction to Information Research containing a RDM module.
We realised from the feedback of the course that the subject of data management needed a more thorough discussion and a separate course. As the UT Library already has the experience of creating and conducting web-based courses, and the biodiversity data management and publishing platform PlutoF is available for natural scientists, it was decided to create jointly a course which would provide both the theoretical knowledge and practical data management skills.

About the e-course

Feedback from the participants points out that such an innovative arrangement, where the course is jointly designed and run by two UT institutions, is clearly necessary and welcome.

The first part of the course is universal and it is suitable for doctoral students of all disciplines who work with digital data. Up to now, 87 students have passed the course. PhD students highly value the opportunity to learn and complete  assignments at the place and time most suitable for them. Another important aspect for students is individual feedback for their work. They work with their data and get comments about their DMP and metadata analysis from their tutors during the course.
All the work done on the course is also part of doctoral students' daily work, so they get credit points for completing the course and the result – DMP -- can right away be used in planning and managing their research.
The Estonian Research Council requires that DMP is included in grant applications, so students who pass the course are ready to face the future research grant applications.
The course is conducted twice a year, in Estonian and in English.
Since open educational resources are an integral part of open science, the learning materials are freely available to everyone on the library's website.

"I'm very glad to have learned about all these. Everything is new for me and I think it is very useful and important. I'm in the first semester of my PhD so sometimes it was a little hard for me, but that was good that I could learn about all this."


Course content

Online: Research Data Management and Publication

Content planning started in late 2017 and learning materials were prepared in 2018.The authors of the course Tiiu Tarkpea (UT Library), and prof. Urmas Kõljalg and Allan Zirk (Natural History Museum) were strongly supported by the vice rector for research Kristjan Vassil, the dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology Leho Ainsaar and the library Director of Development Liisi Lembinen.

The guiding principle of the course is that graduate students should be able to create a data management plan and publish their own research data in a machine-readable format on the PlutoF data management platform. To achieve this goal, two subject modules were developed to cover the entire lifecycle of research data.ere ...

1st module, taught by the UT Library:

  • Open Science: Research funding, Open Access to scientific publications, Open Science and FAIR data, ethical and legal aspects, licensing 
  • Data Management Plans: Doctoral students create a data management plan based on their own research data using the DMPonline tool. They can consult with the PI and the research group who have the knowledge and apply DMPs in their work.
  • Open Data Search : In this topic, students learn about open data repositories, try to find data for re-use, and carry out metadata analysis which underlines the importance of good metadata. The search is based on re3data registry, DataCite registry and OpenAIRE Explore, which is a good example of linking publications and research data to ensure research visibility for public good.

2nd module, PlutoF data management platform

This module is suitable for students working with biodiversity data; it provides step-by-step guidance and feedback, explaining how to publish one's research data in machine-readable format.

"From my point of view, this course gave me many skills to work on deep in my research. This second part was novel for me I did not know about the life cycle on Data on PlutoF platform. I consider it very useful due to that you can have in the same platform the possibilities to upload, archive, publish, share, create and manage all your data. It brings the possibility to have also important information about your projects. This course gave me the possibility to organize and manage my data in a more efficient way."


Future plans

 The Research Data Management and Publication course is actually not the only course created in cooperation with other UT institutions. RDM is also a part of the elective course for PhD students curated by the Ethics Centre: Research Integrity: Framework Requirements, Values and Principles of Action. More than 60 students have passed this course.

Analysing the feedback from the RDM course, we realised that students from other faculties beside sciences also need a similar specific part of the course to learn how to publish their research data.
In cooperation with The Center of Estonian Language Resources, the second part of the course is built on CLARIN, the European Research Infrastructure for Language Resources and Technology, and we will also keep in mind the needs of social scientists.

"This course has been very eye-opening.The DMP is the foundation! A French poet/writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has said: A goal without a plan is just a wish."

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