iridium – postgraduate student evaluation of MANTRA RDM training – Sharing, Preservation and Licensing unit

From Blanca:

Probably I have blogged before about how useful MANTRA training units are and how much I enjoy then.  This month MANTRA released its new unit called “Sharing, preservation & licensing” which is no different from the other units in terms of how effectively it manages to get the message across.

More than that, I believe this to be a dramatic unit. Leaving aside specific barriers for sharing data such as not sharing because of commercial purposes, keeping subjects confidentiality and data ownership (all these barriers may or may not have solutions), there are other reasons which are linked to how the data has been managed during its lifecycle. This unit provides some dramatic examples of why you should share your data and how you need to treat your data from the moment you first get it.

One of the examples this is unit provides is an animated cartoon, which I found hilariously frustrating (putting myself in the shoes of a researcher who wants to re-use some data and finds herself at the mercy of the owner of the data). Problems such as backing up (which are the perils of using physical devices for storage on the short and long term?), appropriate formats (what do you do if the software you used for manipulating your data becomes unsupported?  What does this mean for future users?), and metadata recording (Do you want other researchers to be depending on you to interpret your data? Are you actually going to be available during the whole life cycle of the data?).

This simple animated cartoon made me reflect on the fact that besides barriers such as the ones mentioned above, some barriers are created by the very researcher and having an effective research data management plan can help you take the decision of sharing or not your data, and how you want to share it. In any case, how your data has been managed should not be a barrier for sharing it.

How the data is managed is effectively important.  This unit presents impressive real cases of data fabrication and falsification, these cases are truly unbelievable and I can just think, why would somebody put his/her reputation on the line in such way? The consequences are simply terrifying.

The unit also mentions the benefits of sharing your data, which may bring various rewards such as scientific integrity, increased impact in terms of primary and secondary publications, it may allow collaboration between data users and data creators, it may be the source of some other innovative unrelated research based on the same data,…, there are indeed various benefits and perhaps more importantly the researcher maximises transparency and accountability of his/her research while at the same time he/she complies with funders’ requirements.

Making your data shareable is not an easy task; there are several things to take into account, specially the need to define how you want your data to be re-used? This unit introduces Open data licensing briefly, a topic which I would possible like to see more developed in another unit.

In general, this is a really useful unit which I genuinely enjoyed reading.

MANTRA unit available from: http://datalib.edina.ac.uk/mantra/preservation.html

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