DMPonline case study – Sheffield Hallam University by Peter Smith
Supporting our researchers with managing their data is an important part of the work of the Library Research Support (LRS) team at Sheffield Hallam University. As part of this service we offer information and guidance on all aspects of research data management (RDM.)
To do this we maintain a detailed RDM section on our website, provide training sessions on data management, and offer project specific guidance on data management and open data.
As part of its work to ensure that research has integrity and that researchers follow open research processes SHU policy states that all projects which involve data collection or generation must have a data management plan (DMP.)
DMPs are submitted as part of an ethics approval application. These plans are then reviewed by the LRS team as part of its data management support service. These DMP reviews are relatively ‘light touch’. The idea behind the reviews is that the researcher(s) can get advice and guidance on any elements of their plan that need it.
Once a plan has been reviewed the reviewer will add a reminder to their calendar, so that advice on data preservation and sharing can be offered when the project is complete. For externally funded projects this is an important part of ensuring compliance with open data requirements.
When it comes to writing the reviews our researchers have access to the DMPonline service, for which the team also provides support. We have basic information about the service on our website and introduce the service as part of induction sessions for doctoral researchers and support sessions for advisers, and researchers can request 1-2-1 support with using DMPonline.
We have added our generic SHU templates and guidance to DMPonline. There are two templates; one for staff projects, another for postgraduate research. The system also makes amending our data management guidance much easier. For example being able to add institution specific items, such as the web addresses of key policy documents, is a particular benefit of the system.
We have also been able to use the DMPonline template system to develop and update free-standing Word / PDF templates and guidance for researchers who prefer that to using an online tool.
DMPonline is also a helpful platform for providing access to completed plans, which is one of the main requests we get from researchers, particularly for examples of completed DMPs for the major funding bodies. Several of our researchers have made their plans available via the system.
The ability to export a plan in various formats is useful, as researchers can then easily add their plan to grant applications and the internal ethics application system. For group projects the ability to add editors to a plan is a very helpful feature.
Use of the tool is steady, with spikes in use occurring around postgraduate inductions and RDM events and sessions. In 2019 38 plans have been written so far using DMPonline, fairly equally divided between staff and postgraduate projects.
As well as being a useful tool for us and researchers, DMPonline connects us to a supportive RDM community. I recently attended an RDM ‘unconference’ organised by DCC where I met with a number of colleagues to discuss issues as varied as using tools to automate data gathering, the problems of storing sensitive data, and the creation of an EU wide data management infrastructure.
As part of our review of data management support at SHU we will be looking at how we use DMPonline and how we can promote it more effectively so that more people are using it to create and share their DMPs. This could include reviving our ‘Writing a DMP’ sessions which focused on hands on guidance using DMPonline. Perhaps our next blog post will be letting you know how that went!
We would like to say thank you to Peter Smith 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.