DMPonline case study – University of York by Lindsey Myers
Like many other libraries, internal and external drivers challenged the University of York Library to identify new ways to support its research community. As a result, the Research Support Team emerged from a reorganisation of the Academic Liaison Librarian Team in 2014. Along with open access, responsibility for research data management (RDM) services and support sits with the Library’s Research Support Team.
In our eyes the team is relatively small, consisting of two Research Support Librarians and a Research Support Manager (apologies to solo professionals grappling with all aspects of research support). Of course others are involved and we couldn’t provide a service without the valuable input of our Research Data and Outputs Specialists. This post, a job share, manages process and procedures for the validation of datasets records in Pure and supports our researchers to deposit their research data with the Research Data York service.
With limited resource it is important to seize opportunities when they arise. The team quickly realised the value of DMPonline and we incorporated it into our service provision at an early stage. DMPonline is a tool that we actively promote to our research staff and research students in one-to-one appointments, at the training we deliver and online (e.g. within our RDM online tutorial). We customised the tool, adding our own guidance to it, some time ago. The process of gathering and agreeing on the text for the guidance was a great starting point for communication with colleagues from other services (e.g. IT Services, Archives, Legal) about data management. We then went on to create a simplified data management plan (DMP) template for postgraduate research projects and unfunded research.
In 2018 we cautiously launched a DMP feedback service. I say cautiously as there was concern that I, as the only person reviewing plans, might be inundated. This has not been evidenced, although I’m sure with more robust promotion of the service our fears could be realised. Providing feedback on draft plans has proven to be a useful entry point for conversations with researchers about their research, research data, the services needed to support good RDM practice, and in identifying the skills that researchers have or don’t have for data management. Encouraging researchers to share their DMPs within the institution, as examples to help other researchers write their plans, has proven to be more difficult but I continue with my endeavours.
DMPs are strongly encouraged but not mandated by York’s RDM Policy. Lack of a mandate has guided me to be more cautious in contacting researchers out of the blue as they create new plans in the DMPonline tool. However, our researchers have discovered and are clicking on the ‘Request expert feedback’ button and I’ve noticed more enquiry traffic coming my way as it also promotes the Team as a point of RDM support.
The Digital Curation Centre’s work to develop machine-actionable DMPs is an area of particular interest. The creation of a DMP is seen by some as a one-off administrative burden. I’d like to change this perception and move to a position where DMPs are seen as an integral part of research practice at York. DMPs could provide valuable information to researchers, funders, administrators and to the Research Support Team, to help us successfully manage the long-term storage and access to valuable research data.
We would like to say thank you to Lindsey Myers 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.