iridium – third postgraduate student feedback blog on MANTRA RDM training

Continuing the series of posts on the MANTRA RDM online training tool from postgrads in different  disciplines.

Third is post is from Jack, postgraduate student in Philosophy.

“I recently read through MANTRA, the online research data management training guide from Edinburgh University, as a novice beginning work on the Iridium project. By novice I mean my own current research is broadly in Philosophy at masters level. As such, with regards to my own area of study, research data management took little priority beyond maintaining a bibliography of secondary texts I had read for reference. My hope for the training was to widen the context of research data across the spectrum of methods and data types.

The first section proper (“Research data explained”) I found to be a useful introduction to the remit of what may constitute research data, how it may be generated with practical examples for each. The next section (“Data Management Plans”) emphasises the importance of having a management plan, placing it in the context of one’s own research by asking what best suits the type of data the researcher uses. It then breaks down the general components of a data management plan with a checklist of what should go into each:

(c) EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh. Research Data MANTRA [online course], CC:BY

(c) EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh. Research Data MANTRA [online course], CC:BY

With “Organising Data” the need for good file management will be familiar to researchers with lax conventions for saving. With the best will in the world whilst one may have the confidence they will remember where data was saved and under what title at the time, a few weeks or months down the line this becomes a cause of frustration. Intelligible and simple ways of saving are provided to avoid this. Reference to bulk renaming tools is given to aid creating conventions for mass files. The RDM Blankety Blankstyle summaries at the end of the sections are a good way to check what information has been absorbed:
 (c) EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh. Research Data MANTRA [online course], CC:BY

(c) EDINA and Data Library, University of Edinburgh. Research Data MANTRA [online course], CC:BY

I found the video in the “Documentation and Metadata” beneficial as it relates directly with recording metadata in the social sciences. The student outlines the issues related to recording metadata in social sciences. She also highlights how recording metadata can be important for one’s own sake in reminding what methods were used and for what reasons when returning to projects later on. With other videos for an introduction I think some of the speakers in the video I found maybe too in depth though the enthusiasm is creditable.The final unit “Storage and Security” is by far the largest section and could act as a standalone training module. It goes into detail around the importance of regular backups and appropriate storage.  Whilst most researchers will be familiar with the pains of losing data they have worked on a few first hand horror stories from those who have lost data are given to affirm the importance of this. The concluding “Recommended Resources” section provides recent documents and webpages for further introductory guides to research data and management plans, which open embedded into the training page. For anybody looking to go on to create a management plan I found the Sarah Jones guide from the Digital Curation Centre to provide a detailed yet straightforward guide to doing so.To surmise, with my own work being broadly based in the humanities understanding what constitutes research data seemed less clear cut than other faculties. Whereas with chemistry or biology the raw data is readily demarcated, as that which is studied in a laboratory, I initially found it less discernible with more academic essay writing. However, the way in which the training asks to question your own data generally and covers a great range of data types. This provides a greater direct understanding in relation to my own work and research data more generally. Splitting the different areas of RDM into separate units I’ve found beneficial. Following interviews conducted for Iridium I have since gone back to individual sections to go through the area again to clarify any doubts.”


One Response to iridium – third postgraduate student feedback blog on MANTRA RDM training

  1. Pingback: iridium JISC MRD02 – monthly updates June/July ’12 « iridium

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