6 minutes reading time (1209 words)

Use cases of Institutional RDM Support - OpenAIRE blog series

planning for Institutional RDM support

June 2020, Ellen Leenarts on behalf of the team

Image by Patrick Hochstenbach CC-BY
How do universities organise their institutional Research Data Management Support? When starting to ponder this task a lot of questions may arise. Is Research Data Management Support a separate division or more a kind of network of experts? What kind of support is provided? Is there group training involved,1:1 guidance, or is there a set of tools offered. And how do researchers get to know about the RDM support offered? The OpenAIRE task force on RDM set out to take a deeper look, and we made it personal (or at least, institutional)! The below is an overview of how the OpenAIRE network has produced a series of blogs for institutional RDM support.

In OpenAIRE Advance a programme involving many NOADs working on task forces, exists to enable capacity building, competencies and awareness raising on different relevant open science topics. There are two task forces, one on Policies and Legal Guidelines, and one on Research Data Management. The task forces have produced many guides, webinars and blogs demonstrating a vertical approach for knowledge exchange1.

A wide array of publications and training on how to organise Research Data Management Support in research institutions2 do already exist. However the members of the task force, being often involved in RDM support in their own universities, felt a need to have access to more practical examples to support them and others in their work of setting up and maintaining RDM support services. Some universities, like the Technical University Delft in the Netherlands already share their experiences, such in the case of Delft, where a model of data stewards on domain level was set up3. If you are interested in how other universities have approached this, see the list of practice references below.

'Showing First hand experience' The OpenAIRE BLOG SERIES

DMP workshops at the University of Helsinki

To provide more hands-on examples of setting up RDM support, the task force set out to write a number of blogs about RDM support at research institutions providing both first hand experience of the process and bottom-up input for other institutions in the process of setting up RDM support.

The published blog posts so far are:

The first blog on institutional RDM support in practice was published in June 2019 and contained the practice at the University of Helsinki, Finland. As the blog was well received, two other blogs were published soon after. One blog identified the challenges faced at Ghent University, Belgium. A third blog detailed the organisation of RDM support at the University of Vienna, Austria. The fourth and last blog of the series features a recently started open science project that is expected to boost the RDM support provided at the Masaryk University (Czech Republic).

Not surprising the practices of institutional RDM support have some elements in common. These include factors such as: It takes a long time it took to get officially organised and set up internal procedures, the multidisciplinary teams of experts the support usually relies on and the type of training and support materials it provides. 

The blogs also show the professionalism this support has achieved. Surely inspiration is also expected from initiatives such as from the (to be formed) RDA Interest Group for Data Stewards professionalism4. In the blogs it is clear that the first step in organising institutional RDM support is to achieve management support and funds and then start with a small group of enthusiastic experts, collaborate with experts nationally and make sure clear RDM policies and support are in place in due time.

Workshop 'Getting Started with RDM Support' at Kaunas University of Technology: Towards research data management support in Lithuania
For further reading on approaches to organise institutional RDM support in practice, see the reference list below. 


Chiwaro, E. et al.: Research Data Management Services in Southern Africa: A Readiness Survey of Academic and Research Libraries. African Journal of Library, Archives and Information Science 28(1) · April 2018. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/325976080_Research_Data_Management_Services_in_Southern_Africa_A_Readiness_Survey_of_Academic_and_Research_Libraries

Claibourn, Michele P.. 2015. "Bigger on the Inside: Building Research Data Services at the University of Virginia". Insights 28 (2): 100–106. DOI: http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.239

Fei Yu, Rebecca Deuble & Helen Morgan (2017) Designing Research Data Management Services Based on the Research Lifecycle – A Consultative Leadership Approach, Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 66:3, 287-298, DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2017.1364835 Available from:


Jamie Wittenberg, Mary Elings: Building a Research Data Management Service at the University of California, Berkeley: A tale of collaboration. 2017 https://doi.org/10.1177/0340035216686982

Sidorko, P ,University of Hong Kong, 'Riding the "cycle": Librarians facilitating research' (2015) Slides available at: https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/academic-and-research-libraries/publications/peter_sidorko.pdf

University of Edinburgh Research Data Service Road Map 2017-2020 (2017). Available at: https://www.ed.ac.uk/files/atoms/files/rds_roadmap_20171101_v3.2.pdf

Zhou, Q. (2018) Academic Libraries in Research Data Management Service: Perceptions and Practices. Open Access Library Journal, 5, 1-4. doi: 10.4236/oalib.1104693

Meyer, T (ZBW) 'Collaboration and Cooperation in RDM. Experiences of a central specialist library' (2015) Slides available online: https://www.ifla.org/files/assets/academic-and-research-libraries/publications/thorsten_meyer.pdf

Special thanks to Susanne Blumesberger and her colleagues who created this list.


1 For a list of outcomes, see: https://www.openaire.eu/task-forces-in-openaire-advance

2 E.g. Jones, S., Pryor, G. & Whyte, A. (2013). 'How to Develop Research Data Management Services - a guide for HEIs'. DCC How-to Guides. Edinburgh: Digital Curation Centre. Available online: http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/how-guides

Digital Curation Centre, University of Edinburgh and Research Data Netherlands (4TU Centre for Research Data, DANS and SURFsara). 'Delivering Research Data Management Services'. (2019) MOOC available online: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/delivering-research-data-management-services

Carol Tenopira, et al.: Research data management services in academic research libraries and perceptions of librarians. Library & Information Science Research, Volume 36, Issue 2, April 2014. Pages 84-90 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lisr.2013.11.003

3 See current practice on homepage 'Data Stewardship at TU Delft available here: https://www.tudelft.nl/en/library/current-topics/research-data-management/r/support/data-stewardship/

4 https://www.rd-alliance.org/groups/professionalising-data-stewardship



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10 Jul 2020

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