Category: RDA

DMP inspiration down under

I’ve had a number of inspiring DMP discussions over the last few weeks, both Australian and European based. Here in Oz, funders do not require data management plans like they do in the UK and USA. This has led to the growth of quite different tools as institutions fit the DMP to local priorities.
CSIRO, QCIF and the University of Queensland all have data management tools with a strikingly similar feature set. Research Data Planner, RedBox and UQ Research Data Manager are more akin to data management systems than DMP tools. They integrate with other institutional systems and prioritise storage allocation, metadata capture and data publishing as incentives to engage researchers. It’s heartening to see that they have learned lessons from overseas – much attention has been given to streamlining questions and providing tailored guidance or pre-filled answers. This point came up at Macquarrie University too which is currently developing a DMP tool and will provide default answers that should suit most use cases. They are focusing on sensitive data as that’s the biggest risk and institutional concern. Indeed, institutions here seem very risk adverse and defensive of IP.
This prevailing institutional competitiveness is a weakeness for the data management field in my opinion. Three teams have developed very similar DMP tools while the sector as a whole would have been much better served by a coordinated national effort. Admittedly this is easier to say than do. Parallel DMPonline and DMPTool developments ran in the UK and USA for nearly 6 years before we started the DMPRoadmap partnership to have a common open source codebase from which to run each of our services.
Australian DMP tools are very impressive and there are a lot of ideas I plan to take back to inform DMPonline developments. I really like the API plug and play approach to allow organisations to join up whatever systems they have in place. I hope to coordinate a co-located workshop during the RDA Plenary on 18-20 March 2020 in Melbourne to discuss global DMP initiatives and what opportunities there are for wider collaboration. These could be around the common standard for DMP, sharing user requirements, code, developer peer exchange, training or more. If you are involved in DMP work and want to get involved please reach out to me.
There have been interesting European DMP talks over the last few weeks too. Benjamin Faure and colleagues at DMP OPIDoR in France have made a number of useful extensions to the DMPRoadmap codebase. These include one click plan creation from the public templates page, an API extension to pull out themes, and adding a dataset component to the underlying data model. We have also continued our DMPonline outreach, running drop-ins and scheduling the next user group for 17th September in London. This will follow a full day RDMF on costing data management on 16th at the British Library – register here. We are also growing the DMPonline team and held interviews for a new developer on Monday.
I’ll be giving a DMP webinar for ARDC on lessons from Europe tomorrow. Slides are available and a video is forthcoming. 

RDA 11th Plenary Berlin: Active DMP Excitement

Now that the dust has settled, here are a few thoughts and reflections from March’s 11th RDA Plenary in Berlin, with a focus on Data Management Plans (DMPs).

DMP Common Standards WG

My participation in this plenary began with the DMP Common Standards WG meeting tasked with finding practical ways to make DMPs machine-actionable. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of participants, most of who perhaps aren’t interested in the technical minutiae of the WG conference calls, but are nevertheless interested in the general discussion and wish to be included in shaping the outputs and recommendations of this group.* [Theme 1]

More importantly, many participants had questions to ask and insights to offer during the Towards a Common Data Model moderated discussion to the extent that, unavoidably, many conversations spilled over into the coffee break and the immaculate corridors of Berlin’s Congress Center! This happily points to a clear need to listen and gather insights from as wide a stakeholder base as possible if we want our recommendations to be useful to the widest possible audience.

Points of interest:

  • Lightning talks where we presented various DMP-related tools’ approaches to modelling this subject area. [Slides]
  • By Common Data Model we mean finding a way to let funders ask their questions and receive answers in a standard, well-defined way that does not restrict expressiveness and represents the very diverse approaches and requirements that different groups and organisations have.* [Theme 2]
  • DMPRoadmap data model’s emphasis on KISS principle (Keep It Simple & Straightforward): 
    Plans use Templates – Templates have Phases, which contain Sections with Questions in them.
  • Missing DMP data may be the result of a question that was never asked. [DCC‘s Kevin Ashley]
  • There may be a middle ground between free-text and machine-readable content in the concept of Themes.
  • More emphasis on integration between APIs, data sources and tools as opposed to simply exporting/sharing DMPs. 

Emerging themes:

  1. The first emerging theme was convergence & collaboration: collect as many user stories as possible for maximum inclusivity.
  2. By extension, the need to avoid overspecification & overengineering in the WG’s outputs, to prevent having to shoehorn diverse standards and methodologies into a narrow data/metadata model in the future.
    • This is what makes many recommendations that look good on paper unusable in the real world.

Exposing DMPs WG

Another full room at P11, this time for the Exposing DMPs WG meeting:

  • Lightning talk presentations on the subject of sharing DMP content by Angus Whyte (DCC), David Carr (Wellcome), Elena Zudilova-Seinstra (Elsevier RDM Solutions), Iain Hrynaszkiewicz (BMC Research Notes), Sandra Gesing (Open Science Framework), Stephanie Simms (CDL).
  • Use cases for exposing DMPs
  • Real-time voting: Which use cases should we spend our time on? – showed great interest on the subjects of Integration and Evaluation.

Favourite moment

Resolutely debugging the RDA Metadata Standards Catalog with Alex Ball during a coffee break – having coffee standing up Italian style, furiously typing into laptops & tablets, we must have been a sight!

RDA Plenaries are an excellent opportunity for learning and collaboration, as there’s so much experience around in many different subject areas – so many user stories, and so many different perspectives to stimulate conversation and one’s interest in previously unexplored topics.


Full room at DMP Common Standards WG… …and at Exposing DMPs WG!

Photos: Tomasz Miksa, Jimmy Angelakos

DMPRoadmap summer camp news

Image credit: Airstream CC-BY-NC by dwstucke
This summer we’ve made solid progress toward our DMPRoadmap MVP, done oodles of outreach for machine-actionable DMPs, and addressed some DMPTool and DMPonline-specific items. Keep reading for t…

RDA in the UK: what role do you see?

This week saw the first RDA UK workshop hosted by Jisc in Birmingham. The Research Data Alliance is a community-driven organisation aiming to build the social and technical infrastructure to enable open sharing of data. Members come together throu…

Education and Training for Research Data Handling at RDA Plenary 6, September 2015

The Research Data Alliance (RDA) continues to provide a useful international network for those active in research data-related activities. Last week, DCC attended the most recent plenary in Paris to contribute to a number of relevant working and interest groups. Amongst these was the Interest Group on Education and Training for the Handling of Research Data (IG-ETHRD), which I currently co-chair with Yuri Demchenko of the University of Amsterdam / the EC-funded EDISON project.  

We were delighted to have such a good turnout at our IG meeting with 99 seats filled (including by the DCC’s Sarah Jones and ex-DCC staff member Alex Ball along with a number of other big names in research data skills development) and some more people listening from outside.  Clearly the training and skills agenda is an important one which connects directly to building capacity and creating jobs across the research data space.  Our aim is to support education and training-related activities across the full spectrum of stakeholders including those who identify as researchers, librarians, data scientists, research data managers and any other interested parties. In these ways, the ethos of this group is very much in line with our range of work at DCC; we recognise that increasing capacity and skill levels in research data handling improves practice throughout the lifecycle and as a result, the chances of availability of research data for reuse and impact.

Last week’s meeting provided updates on current IG-ETHRD activities including: 

  • development of an updated profile of skills and proficiencies for four different research-data handling professions, namely research librarians; research administrators, research infrastructure managers; and researchers. We are gathering suggestions of 1. essential skills for research data handling; 2. desirable skills for research data handling; and 3. relevant literature and projects about aspects of research data handling for each of these four professions. This process will run until 15 Dec 2015. 
  • participation in the ULCCDPC-DCC training needs survey available here: until 16 Oct 2015 (we have 207 responses so far!)
  • an active call for suggestions of work we can undertake with related working groups (WGs) and IGs at RDA, and other groups. 

We also enjoyed short presentations on the GridKA summer school; on the upcoming Data Science Summer School in Trieste this August which will be produced by CODATA, RDA, ICTP and TWAS; and on the EDISON project; before a lively discussion around the room.  

Time was short so we’d like to continue the discussion.  If you would like to find out more about the group, please visit the group’s webpage (free website login required) – joining the mailing list is the best way to keep up to date with our activities.  And if you’re interested in knowing more about any of the activities described above, please get in touch with one of the two co-chairs: laura.molloy AT, or y.demchenko AT  Or let us know what needs to happen next in research data related education and training, in the comments below!

RDA Meeting Part 1: The RDA Organization

This week nearly 400 data nerds flooded the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC, for the second Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance. I was among those nerds, and I’ll review some highlights of the #RDAplenary in my next blog post. First, however, I want to provide an overview of this thing called […]