Solving the data curation conundrum

Date: 15th Oct 2015

Venue: L'Escargot, 48 Greek Street, London, Soho, W1D 4EF

Research organisations in receipt of funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are now weighing up what steps they should take to comply with the council’s policy framework on research data management (RDM).

The EPSRC has made it clear that it is the responsibility of qualifying institutions to support their academics to deal with research data effectively, including promoting best practice, and providing support services, tools and systems that will enable researchers to meet the EPSRC’s required standards.

From this autumn, EPSRC will be checking how institutions are doing by randomly sampling the availability of data that underpins research in papers published on or after 1 May 2015.

What EPSRC’s focus on research data management has achieved, in the words of one senior technology manager at Jisc, is to stimulate institutions to look more closely at the complete research data lifecycle and to develop RDM services in a more holistic way - and not just focus on meeting the EPSRC’s compliance expectations.

The EPSRC guidelines are non-prescriptive in focus and remit, and, some might argue, they are also frustratingly flexible. While this allows for considerable flexibility in the types of research projects and the data they generate, it is somewhat challenging for institutions in terms of clarity i.e. how much compliance will cost and how that should be sustained in the long-term. For example, EPSRC-funded research data must be retained for at least a decade after the last date of access by a third party.

Similarly, a Research Councils UK (RCUK) statement on Expectations for Societal and Economic Impact, said there is a clear directive that those who receive funding should "take responsibility for the curation, management and exploitation of data for future use".

There is a huge difference between data and knowledge. Purely collecting more and more data serves little purpose, unless it can be turned into meaningful information ‒ which means ensuring it can be accessed by the right people, in the right way and at the right time.

The issues around research data management and overlay networks will be discussed at a Government Computing dinner in association with HDS for IT professionals in educational institutions on October 15th at L’Escargot in London.

The dinner, for CIOs, IT directors, heads of research and board level executives, particularly within the Russell Group association of universities, will discuss how properly managing research data enables universities to increase the value of the data stored by increasing research visibility and increasing research citation rates.

However, universities’ moves to support increased research activity means there is more pressure on universities’ core networks. That is why HDS is currently working with Brocade to offer high performance overlay networks to remove these network problems. This is another topic for discussion over dinner.

It promises to be an excellent evening, with lively, informed debate in a convivial setting. Attendance is entirely free of charge but spaces are strictly limited, so please register today. We look forward to welcoming you.

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