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The Grassy Uplands of Research Data Management: Developing Community-led RDM Resources

Published on January 7th, 2021

Post by Ellen Leenarts (DANS) - ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5589-756X.
DANS has been leading the OpenAIRE RDM task force in OpenAIRE Advance.

Why this task force?

The OpenAIRE NOADs1 have a diverse background. Their original mission has shifted from not only supporting open access to publications but also to promoting open access to research data. Equipped with a considerable amount of knowledge and skills already around RDM available the task force still needed to build capacity in order to fulfil a national role in this field. Additionally, it was apparant that there was a lack of materials on RDM that NOADs could use nationally to help implement RDM or raise awareness around this topic. To fill these gaps the task force was created in 2018. It was organised in such a way that coordinators facilitated and guided discussions and made sure work plans were set.

RDM taskforce

Building on knowledge

Based on the input of the task force members' perceived gaps in their knowledge and available learning resources, the work could be prioritised and worked on collaboratively. The members of the task force were organised in various working groups with concrete tasks creating new resources. There was a strong focus on mixing knowledge and skill levels and keeping a low entry-level so that everyone could join a working group and work collaboratively on new resources. Regular calls for reporting progress were organised.

What new resources were created?

Based on perceived gaps of knowledge in the research data life cycle, new resources were created. This could be materials as guides and infographics, but also webinars or blogs.

202010 OpenAIRE RDM outputs vs3

Figure 1. Overview of OpenAIRE task forces outputs, December 2020
All these outputs have been made available through the OpenAIRE website and the Zenodo repository. The main gaps that have been filled are around the following topics:
a) handling various types of research data, including sensitive data
b) finding trustworthy repositories
c) examples of institutional RDM support
d) examples of research data reuse (new!)
e) examples of data management plans (to be expected)
A resource that has been very valuable for starting NOADs is the starter kit referencing all resources on the OpenAIRE portal. We thought this can be very valuable for anyone starting to promote open science and therefore it was properly indexed by Ádám Szaldobagyi using the research data life cycle and shared for public use in one page.

What impact does this have? 

All the resources are shared on the OpenAIRE website and in Zenodo so it is possible to monitor how many views and downloads the various resources. It is interesting to see that the OpenAIRE guides and blogs are very visible with a high number views and downloads.

The current top three guides in the number of downloads:

  1. How to deal with sensitive data? (by Emilie Hermans and Olivia Kaiser) - more than 11.250 downloads
  2. How to find a trustworthy repository for your data? (by Marjan Grootveld and Gültekin Gurdal)  - around 7.000 downloads
  3. Data formats for preservation (by Paula Moura and Venkat Shanmugasundaram - around 5.000 downloads

The top blog in the number of views:

Electronic Lab Notebooks, should you go "e"? (by Paula Martinez Lavanchy and Asger Væring Larsen) - more than 6.000 views

The task force realised how well the outreach of a blog could be and initialised two subgroups focusing on publishing blog series on Institutional RDM Support and Data reuse and use cases. The first series covers a number of examples and lessons learned at institutes regarding organising RDM support. The second series contains blogs of numerous reports of the process of data reuse. It is difficult here to pick a winner, as the second series is about to be published.

The top webinar in the number of attendees and views:

Supporting researchers on the re-use of data: Legal aspects to consider (2020)2. Speakers: Prodromos Tsiavos, Thomas Margoni and Jacques Flores Dourojeanni. In these two webinars, there were 630 participants and the recording has had more than 700 views since. A very successful webinar to add on our top list.

Apart from the members of the task force who recommend and use the output that the task force has created, we know that others do as well. For example, a recent FAIRSFAIR project deliverable3 (see figure 2) shows an impressive percentage (61%)  of the responding institutes of using existing resources. Of course, this concerns much more than the outputs of the task force and also relates to other resources shared by OpenAIRE.

screenshot 2020.12.14 08 16 23

Figure 2. Example of use of existing resources, training or other services from projects or initiatives (Source: D7.1 FAIR in European Higher Education3).

Individual sources are referenced by others, for example, the guide on “How to find a trustworthy repository” is referenced in the Data Guidelines by Open Research Europe (§2.2 Select a repository).

Task force members have spoken...

We also asked the task force members, now that the project is coming to an end if they think the goals have been achieved: if gaps have been filled around their knowledge and the available resources on RDM. At least two-thirds of the members that answered the internal survey were active members since the start of the task force in 2018. As the total number of members has been around 30, we think their responses are relevant.

screenshot 2020.12.14 08 16 46

Figure 3. Benefits according to members of being part of the task force (n=15)

It seems members experienced all the benefits that we hoped to achieve when setting up the task force. ‘Acquiring new knowledge’ has been of low importance to two members, but they probably have been the experts that others could learn from and they still pointed out that the task force was beneficial to them in other aspects.  

Variety counts - and matters..

When asking if the way the work was organised was inspiring to the members, they all responded with ‘yes’, so we recommend our approach for future projects and initiatives. Over the years the experiences within the OpenAIRE network of NOADs and in task forces are that even though participants are from very different backgrounds and organisations, this does not seem to be a barrier when working towards a common goal to promote Open Science.

A successful approach:

  • bottom-up as well as top-down
  • subgroups working on concrete tasks
  • regular calls for progress updates

1 NOAD stands for National Open Access Desk; NOADs are the OpenAIRE experts in their countries.

2 Supporting researchers on the re-use of data: Legal aspects to consider, webinar 29 April and 4 May 2020. Speakers: Prodromos Tsiavos (Senior Legal Advisor - ARC/ Head of Digital and Innovation - Onassis Group), Thomas Margoni (CREATE Glasgow) and Jacques Flores Dourojeanni (Research Data Management Consultant Utrecht University Library.

3 10.5281/zenodo.3629682, page 34