Beth Humphries shares how Bath Spa University uses DMPonline

Knowledge exchange 

DMPonline case study - Bath Spa University by Beth Humphries

Bath Spa University has research specialisms in social sciences, but also humanities and creative practice - areas where many researchers have not historically considered that they are creating ‘data’ through their research. However, funder requirements for data management plans and open data have moved forward a great deal in recent years and mean that researchers in all fields, including the arts and humanities, need to be thinking about data management. Research data, as defined by Bath Spa University’s Research Data Policy, are “anything captured, collected or created in the process of scholarly investigation that leads towards a final research finding or output. Data includes, but is not limited to, sound files, images, sketchbooks, lab books, performances, or text files.”

We started using DMPOnline in 2016 in order to support our researchers to meet funders requirements for data management plans but also bring about a culture change that engaged more of our researchers to aim for good data management practice at every stage of their research project. We wanted to enable researchers to plan ahead to create high-quality and shareable research data and to consider their ethical and legal obligations in the handling of research data and ensure that everyone involved in this is clear about their role and responsibility.

We have built the development of a data management plan and use of DMPOnline into our research grant application development and ethical approval processes. We hope that having funder templates and a Bath Spa DMP template with guidance from the DCC and the funder easily available eases the burden on researchers and helps them to think through any data management challenges. We have developed themed guidance which includes specific information about our institutional approach. As we have also invested in a research data repository BathSPAData having the institutional guidance helps us to signpost this to our researchers and enable them to consider whether they could make use of the repository when they are planning their project.

The uptake in use of DMPonline has grown over the last three years. Many researchers seem to think creating a data management plan is a bit scary, however when they have engaged with DMPOnline they have found it to be really user-friendly. DMPOnline takes researchers through the data management plan step-by-step, by giving it some real thought and having guidance easily to hand it helps them to think through data management issues when planning their research and improve their research project or research grant application as a result. It is also helpful that DMPOnline allows researchers to share their plans with collaborators, including those outside our institution. They can of course also share them with us in the Research Support Office so we can advise them on any areas that they are struggling with. At present we do not actively use the review option on DMPOnline and have not explored how we can improve our services by using the API, but these are areas that we could explore in the future in order to make better use of all that DMPOnline has to offer. At the moment we are creating a small library of example data management plans that are set to institutional view so that researchers who are new to DMPOnline and the world of data management plans can see how others have approached it.

As a relatively small institution DMPOnline has been a really useful tool for us in streamlining the approach to data management planning and supporting a culture change that encourages researchers to actively engage in good data management practice whatever their area of research.

We would like to say thank you to Beth Humphries for sharing this blog post with us. If you would like to get involved in our knowledge exchange and share a story from your institution please do get in touch with us.