iridium – postgraduate evaluation of MANTRA RDM training (2) – Sharing,preservation and licensing unit

From Jack:

The final module of the MANTRA online research data management training is entitled Sharing, Preservation and Rights. The second of two new modules (the last one being Data Protection, Rights and Access) focus on the back end of the research lifecycle.  In this instance, when working on a project the main focus for the researcher will be gathering the data and achieving outputs, there may be little focus initially beyond this. Once work has been completed preservation and sharing may be one of great importance to ensure the greatest possible impact; if research is intended to be cumulative and part of a community then making research data available should be of priority. However, for some there may be restrictions to the extent they make data available and limits to how others are able to use it. These are also covered in this module.

The module outlines the benefits of sharing research data. There are benefits for the researcher their self (scientific integrity, funder requirements and preservation for one’s own future use) and the research community more widely (teaching, impact, collaboration and public record).  Whilst for the most part we may take on good faith the validity of outputs published in journals and other academic papers the module outlines some high profile instances of how some results have been fabricated by researchers. They argue then that making the data available upon outputs are based ensures legitimacy of research and conduct of openness.

Whilst outlining the importance of preserving data for future reuse the difficulties and potential problems of maintaining it over time are highlighted. Rapid changes in file formats and obsolete storage methods are cited as potential future issues for access. Though this may pose an undue hindrance one’s research activities I see it to emphasise the importance or proper and correctly managed data preservation. Reasons are given for placing data into repositories with emphasis. A further emphasis of the module is that whilst for the most part it focuses on the creator of data, also recognises the position of the secondary data user and provides help for them.

For further guidance on data preservation and best practice the recommended reading  of DCC Curation Reference Manual (http://www.dcc.ac.uk/resources/curation-reference-manual) provides in-depth curation techniques split into several chapters (some still in development).

This final module of the MANTRA training completes a comprehensive yet straightforward beginner’s guide to research data management. Having reviewed the content of several online data management guides recently the University of Edinburgh learning units are the ones I would be recommending as an introduction for fellow postgraduate researchers and equally anybody with related interest in research data management.

MANTRA available from: http://datalib.edina.ac.uk/mantra/preservation.html (CC-by licensed)

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