We have been working with Stéphane Goldstein, a Consultant at the Research Information Network (RIN), to see whether there is any link between the development of institutional research data management services and involvement in the JISCMRD programme.
Universities in the UK are preparing policies and services to better support research data management. This work is being undertaken to ensure that the maximum benefits are achieved for research outputs, particularly where these have been funded from the public purse.
For a three-year period between (2009-2011 and 2011-2013) Jisc funded 65 projects to consider a range of Research Data Management (RDM) issues (JISCMRD programme, http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/mrd.aspx). Thirty-five UK Higher Education Institutions took part in the programme which involved considerable financial investment from Jisc and intensive work and effort within the projects concerned. A wealth of very valuable outputs arose from these projects which Loughborough University, along with others, have benefited from. Loughborough has also made good use of support available from the Digital Curation Centre via their Institutional Engagements and from the UK Data Archive online resources, and in discussions with other experts in this area. The University has also had discussions with the Research Information Network on the results of a national survey that Loughborough University undertook to uncover RDM activities in UK HEIs. The survey was advertised to a number of professional email lists whose readership would have a stake in UK HEI research data management. In addition, DCC colleagues actively promoted the survey to institutions it engages with. The survey was completed by 38 unique HEIs, 15 (39%) of these were involved in Jisc-funded MRD projects. The high proportion of respondents from the JISCMRD programme (15 out of 35 [43%]) may be attributed to our promotional activities and the community coalescing around the JISCMRD projects. Full UK HEI RDM survey results and discussion are available in a blog post by Martin Hamilton (http://blog.martinh.net/2013/10/metadata-is-love-note-to-future-uk.html).
An initial mapping of data from the survey against data on institutions receiving JISCMRD funding revealed that the latter were further advanced in their RDM policy making, infrastructure provision and support/training offerings. We discovered that 60% (9 out of 15) of the Jisc-funded institutions have a RDM policy compared with 26% (6 out 23) of those who did not receive such funding, and 39% (15 out of 38) of the whole sample.
Similarly, 33% (5 out of 15) of those receiving Jisc funding have a research data service in place, but this proportion falls to 4% (1 out 23) for those not receiving any such funding, and 16% (6 out of 38) for the sample as a whole.
This basic analysis appears to indicate a link between Jisc funding and presence of RDM policy and services. In our view this preliminary finding warrants further investigation, not least because it provides some evidence that universities involved in Jisc-funded MRD projects benefit from accelerated policy and service development.
The next step is to delve deeper into the data to look at project themes and to link this up with other sources of information.