Report on the Requirements Analysis for
the University of the West of England (UWE) JISC
Managing Research Data (MRD) Pilot Project

Introduction

The UWE pilot project focuses on the ‘data management and curation needs of two research centres within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences’ with an objective: ‘to draw on the outcomes of previous JISC MRD projects to investigate current research data management practices’. In analysing the requirements of UWE researchers we drew on the outputs of projects within the JISC MRD programme 2009-11 to develop a questionnaire for the researcher participants.

Selecting relevant outputs

Of the institutions which produced requirements analyses, two were felt to have particular relevance as including researchers in similar or related disciplines to the UWE research centres. The Incremental (Universities of Cambridge and Glasgow) study included researcher groups from Public Health and Primary Care (University of Cambridge) and the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (University of Glasgow) analogous to the UWE Centre for Health and Clinical Research (CHCR), one of the pilot research centres. MaDAM (University of Manchester) included researchers from the Faculty of Life Sciences analogous to the UWE Centre for Research in Bioscience (CRIB), the second of the pilot research centres.

The DATUM for Health project (University of Northumbria) worked with postgraduate research students in the health studies discipline and their training materials are potentially of great benefit to our pilot at a later stage but were not of immediate use at this stage.

Analysis of outputs

Incremental outputs and MaDAM outputs were analysed, a mind map built to illustrate the findings and several common concerns identified:

  • Research data stored on a variety of media
  • Multiple copies of files
  • Inconsistent folder structures, versioning and naming conventions
  • Use of portable devices for transfer, sharing within groups and storage of data
  • No, or irregular, back up and lack of backup systems
  • High risk of data loss (by several means)
  • Inefficient means to share research data with colleagues/partners
  • Reluctance to share data widely and prepare for re-use
  • No archiving policies in place to support long-term curation or retrieval of data
  • No means for structured annotation of research data or of annotating data

Four areas were thus identified as concerns and potential barriers to researchers in these disciplines:

  1. Creating and managing files
  2. Storage and back up
  3. Data sharing
  4. Preservation and re-use

These four areas became, in the questionnaire, four sections exploring the barriers the researchers had experienced in managing their research data:

Creating and managing files (questions 13 – 16)
Storage and back up (questions 17 – 21)
Data sharing (questions 22, 27 and 29)
Preservation and re-use (questions 31 – 33)

Verifying our focus

However, we were concerned we might miss relevant information if we focussed too closely on these areas and projects. The findings of 2 other projects, Sudamih (University of Oxford) and IDMB (University of Southampton), were checked for significance and to verify our design. This identified ownership, policy and training as issues and resulted in questions on ownership (questions 23, 24 and 25), policy and influences (questions 11 and 12) and training (questions 34, 35 and 36) being added to the questionnaire. As Sudamih had identified a discrepancy between researchers attitude and practice

'Most researchers are willing in principle to share their data with others, but in practice choose not to do so, for a variety of reasons' (Wilson, Patrick 2010, p5)

two attitudinal questions were added (28, 30) to explore reasons for restricting access.

Finally, the DCC Data Audit Framework (DAF) questionnaire and the Northampton Research Data Management Project Questionnaire were compared alongside our draft questionnaire to ensure all relevant topics were covered and check our draft questions. As a result questions 4, 8, 9 and 22 were copied from the University of Northampton research data management project questionnaire to supplement the questions we had developed.

Summary of Questionnaire Design

In addition to investigating the barriers our researchers experience in managing their data, as highlighted in the Incremental and MaDAM projects, we wished to develop an understanding of

  • the data held by the researchers
  • the policies and guidelines influencing their data management practices
  • the advice and support researchers use and need to assist them

The first is central to the project, the second and third were topics in the Incremental, IDMB and Sudamih projects which led to key findings.

Reference

Wilson, J. Patrick, M. (2010) Sudamih Researcher Requirements Report [online]. Oxford: University of Oxford. Available at http://sudamih.oucs.ox.ac.uk/docs/Sudamih%20Researcher%20Requirements%20Report.pdf [Accessed 21 March 2012]

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