New content in MANTRA: ‘Keeping research data safe’

We are pleased to provide an update on MANTRA, the free online research data management training resource.

The MANTRA course was developed around ten years ago to provide knowledge and training on a number of key research data management topics, including data management plans, effective organisation of data and files, and archiving and sharing research data at the end of a project.

As part of an ongoing update to MANTRA, six of the eight training modules have now been updated in order to refresh content and introduce new concepts and topics to better reflect current research data management practices and conventions.

Our most recent update is the new Unit 6: ‘Keeping research data safe’, which replaces the original ‘Storage and security’ unit covering how to store research data effectively, including keeping backups and methods to safeguard data. The new unit updates that content, and introduces a number of new topics including data classification, networked and cloud storage, password management tools, data access controls, transferring files securely, and working remotely.

Additionally, the new unit has been refreshed to include new images, videos and links to further reading to ensure it remains relevant and interesting to anyone looking to learn more about storing their research data safely and effectively.

In addition to this latest update, over the past year we have also reviewed and updated a further three modules:

  • Unit 2: ‘Data management planning’ – Main updates include: new videos on the topic of data management planning from the Research Data Service, and new content covering planning of a broader range of research outputs (e.g. software code, workflows, methods and protocols), and information on software management planning.
  • Unit 3: ‘Organising data’ – Main updates include: restructuring the content to make it easier to read and understand, and new pages on collaboration and working in teams, versioning files and using versioning tools, and managing software and code.
  • Unit 8: ‘FAIR sharing and access’ – Main updates include: new videos, new pages on open data, the FAIR principles, making data FAIR, open data repositories, and data access statements, plus revisions to unit summary activities.

You can also read previous blog posts about updates to Unit 1: ‘Research data in context’ (blog post) and Unit 7: ‘Protecting sensitive data’ (blog post).

We hope you find time to visit MANTRA to see what is new and to learn more about looking after your research data effectively. We will be sharing more news on MANTRA as further updates are released.

Bob Sanders
Research Data Support Assistant, L&UC

‘Protecting sensitive data’: new MANTRA unit now available

The Research Data Support team are pleased to announce a new update to MANTRA, the free and open online research data management training course.

The new ‘Protecting sensitive data’ module has been created from scratch, replacing the previous ‘Data protection, rights and access’ unit to provide an up-to-date guide for researchers working with sensitive and personal data.

MANTRA is designed to give post-graduate students, early career researchers, and information professionals the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with research data.

The ‘Protecting sensitive data’ unit considers the ethical and legal contexts for conducting research with sensitive data, including information and guidance on:

  • What makes data sensitive?
  • What UK and European data protection laws mean for research
  • Research ethics, informed consent and consent documentation
  • Approvals processes and accessing restricted data
  • Safeguarding sensitive data, including data retention limits, access controls and anonymisation
  • Data protection training

MANTRA is designed to be approachable and informative, and incorporates text and video content plus quizzes, interactive exercises and a ‘further reading’ section.

We hope you find the new content interesting and useful, and we welcome comments on the new unit, as well as feedback on the other seven MANTRA modules.

Finally, the RDS team are currently working on a series of further updates to MANTRA which will be rolled out over the coming weeks, and information about these releases will be posted on this blog and the RDS Twitter account.

Bob Sanders

MANTRA, Lead Editor

Updated MANTRA content: Research data in context

The Research Data Support team is pleased to announce the launch of the first in a series of updates to MANTRA, the free and open online research data management training course.

The first updated module ‘Research data in context’ (previously ‘Research data explained’) is now live on the MANTRA site and provides an introduction to research data, alongside detail on the contexts in which data are generated, and the challenges presented by big data in society.

MANTRA is designed to give post-graduate students, early career researchers, and information professionals the knowledge and skills needed to work effectively with research data.

Since launching in 2011, MANTRA has been through a number of significant rewrites to keep up with current trends, and over 10,000 different learners have visited MANTRA in the last academic year.

The ‘Research data in context’ module has been substantially revised in order to:

  • remove dated and obsolete content;
  • simplify and improve the readability of existing material;
  • add information on data literacy and data science.

The changes in this module include:

  • Revised pages: Introduction; Why is research data management important?; What are data?; What are research data?; Data as research output; Module Summary; Next & further reading.
  • New pages: Data in society; Data Science; Video: machine learning; Data literacy and skills.

A change log detailing all changes in this release is available on request from the Research Data Support team (data-support@ed.ac.uk).

We hope you find this update interesting and useful and welcome any feedback you may have.

Further MANTRA updates are forthcoming, focusing on FAIR data and newer data protection legislation and we will announce these in future blog posts.

Bob Sanders
Research Data Support

New training: Assessing Data Quality and Disclosure Risk in Numeric Data

The Research Data Service, in collaboration with the UK Data Service, are running workshops on the theme ‘Assessing Data Quality and Disclosure Risk in Numeric Data’. These hands-on sessions introduce the key elements of data quality and disclosure risk, and include practical demonstrations of two tools to evaluate the quality (QAMyData) and disclosure risk (sdcMicro) of numeric research data.

Workshops will run across two days, with sessions on different days for researchers interested in social survey data (10th June) and health data (11th June).

Session 1: Assessing Data Quality in Numeric Data

This workshop will introduce the key elements of data quality assessment, including file checks, and undertaking data and metadata checks. Attendees will gain hands-on experience using QAMyData, a purpose-built configurable tool to quickly and automatically detect some of the most common problems in survey and other numeric data (SPSS, STATA, SAS & csv files).

Session 2: Assessing Disclosure Risk in Numeric Data

This workshop will provide an introduction to statistical disclosure control (SDC), covering: types of Identifiers; de-identification and anonymization; types of disclosure; SDC approaches; k-anonymity and l-diversity. The workshop introduces sdcMicro, a practical R package for measuring disclosure risk in numeric data. The session will give attendees hands-on experience using sdcMicro to assess disclosure risk and apply SDC methods to anonymize numeric data, while evaluating the balance between disclosure risk and data loss.

These sessions are available to research staff and students and can be booked using the links below:

Assessing Data Quality in Numeric Data (Social Survey Data) –                                      10th June 0930-1200, Lister Learning and Teaching Centre, Room 1.16 (Central Area)  https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34939

Assessing Disclosure Risk in Numeric Data (Social Survey Data) –                                10th June 1330-1700, Lister Learning and Teaching Centre, Room 1.16 (Central Area) https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34941

Assessing Data Quality in Numeric Data (Health Data) –                                                  11th June 0930-1230, Microlab 1, Chancellor’s Building (Little France) https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34940

Assessing Disclosure Risk in Numeric Data (Health Data) –                                            11th June 1300-1700, Microlab 1, Chancellor’s Building (Little France)                                 https://www.events.ed.ac.uk/index.cfm?event=book&scheduleID=34942

Bob Sanders
Research Data Support
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