New data archiving unit in MANTRA

Summertime is always a good time to renew and refresh – including open educational resources like Research Data MANTRA, https://mantra.ed.ac.uk, a free online course “for those who manage digital data as part of their research project.”

MANTRA’s lead editor Bob Sanders, in Library Research Support, has been busy in between his summer holidays getting all the topical units fit for new postgrads and early career researchers.

In particular each of the units’ links, images, videos, activities and further reading sections have been renewed, following a rolling revamp of most of the sections’ written content over the last couple of years. Two of the units, ‘Files, formats and transformation,’ and ‘Documentation, metadata and citation’ have been retired and  replaced by a new ‘Preparing your data for archiving’ section, covering why and how to publish your data in a trustworthy repository.

We are also aware that the data handling tutorials, separate from the other units, have become more or less outdated and while we decide how to address this, users should be aware of the last update date on each set of those downloadable materials.

Of course we practice what we preach in terms of archiving, and so previous units that have been revamped have been archived on the Zenodo site, (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1035218), along with the retired ‘DIY RDM Training Kit for Librarians’ (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6532049).

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Bob for acting as lead editor for MANTRA in recent years and for stewarding it through so many new developments in the field of research data management, and to wish him well in his new role as SCADR Training Manager in the School of GeoSciences.

For the complete set of RDM training by the Research Data Service, including live sessions, see https://www.ed.ac.uk/is/data-training.

Robin Rice
Data Librarian and Head, Research Data Support

Edinburgh Open Research Conference Proceedings

EOR logoOne of the ambitions for the EOR conference held in March, 2022, when we first started planning it was to make it as open and accessible as possible. To achieve this we made the whole event hybrid so that plenary talks, posters, and workshops were all accessible on the day to both in person and remote attendees. While this generally worked very well for both remote and in-person attendees, we also wanted to make it available to people who couldn’t attend on the day – so we recorded everything, and the recordings of the talks and posters can now be openly accessed through our Edinburgh Open Research journal at http://journals.ed.ac.uk/eor.

Kerry Miller
Research Data Support Officer & Open Research Co-Ordinator
Library Research Support

Quicker, easier interface for DataVault

We are delighted to report that Edinburgh DataVault now has a quicker and easier process for users. The team have been working hard to overhaul the form for creating a new ‘vault’ to improve the user experience. The changes allow us to gather all the information we need from the user directly through a DataVault web page. The users no longer need to first login to Pure and create a separate dataset record there. Instead, that bit will be automated for them.

I have explained the new process and walked users through the new form in a new and updated how-to video, now combining the getting started information with the demo of how to create a vault:

Get started and create your vault! (8 mins)

The new streamlined process for users is represented and compared to our open research data repository DataShare in this workflow diagram. DataVault is designed for restricted access, but can also handle far larger datasets than DataShare.

The diagram shows the steps users go through in DataShare and DataVault. Common steps are deposit and approval.

The DataVault process includes the gathering of funding information, and review and deletion none of which are present in the DataShare workflow since they would not be relevant to that open research data repository.

The arrow showing DataVault metadata going to the internet represents the copying of selected metadata fields into Pure, where they are accessible as dataset records in the university’s Edinburgh Research Explorer online portal.

Our new course “Archiving Your Research Data”, featuring Sara Thomson, Digital Archivist, provides an introduction to digital preservation for researchers, combined with practical support on how to put digital preservation into practice using the support and systems available here at University of Edinburgh such as the DataVault. For future dates and registration information please see our Workshops page.

A recording of an earlier workshop (before the new interface was released) is also available: Archiving Your Research Data Part 1: Long-term Preservation.

If you are a University of Edinburgh principal investigator, academic, or support professional interested in using the Edinburgh DataVault, please get in touch by emailing data-support@ed.ac.uk.

Pauline Ward
Research Data Support Assistant
Library and University Collections
University of Edinburgh

It Is Our Mantra

Last week I was honoured to accept an invitation to speak at the Library Technology Conclave at Somaiya Vidyavihar University in Mumbai, India, organised by Informatics Limited and the University. A prelude the day before the event included a half-day “Research Data Management (RDM) Basics” tutorial for about 50 attending librarians, which I delivered based on adaptations of our Research Data Support team’s training materials for PhD students and staff. The training exercises, developed from a few other external librarian training sessions I’ve done, focused on building librarians’ confidence in supporting researchers with data management planning and data sharing. Doing the training in person helped me to overcome communication barriers and foster deeper engagement than could have happened online only.

Lighting the flame of the conference

Lighting the flame of the hybrid conference

The conference was on the theme of “Research Data Management and Stewardship: Building Blocks for Open Science,” with a number of eminent librarians, scientists, and educators speaking in keynotes and on panels in six thematic sessions, in-person and remotely. There was a palpable sense of urgency to the proceedings, as those in the room were concerned that India’s scientific institutions, without funder mandates, national open infrastructure, nor observable changes in cultural norms for RDM and Open Science, might be left behind, given this emerging new, more transparent way of conducting research. Questions focused not on the What or Why of Open Science, but how to instigate behavioural change of scientists and researchers, and how librarians could create demand for new services such as data repositories and quickly skill themselves up.

I have some empathy for their position. A decade or so ago I attended conferences which felt more like hand-wringing than change-making, with endless talk of carrots and sticks (and carrot-stick jokes), with researchers explaining over and again their reluctance to be ‘scooped’ by giving access to their data. I am not sure what caused the tipping point to talking about the potential of data sharing and open science to the exciting reality of it happening, but it seems to have come round (more or less). I do still harbour concerns that our own researchers will be left out of participation in the shared infrastructure that is the European Open Science Cloud because of Brexit-related barriers here.

Robin with attendeesOne talk that piqued my interest involved a survey of librarians in Gujarat about RDM and their capacity to deliver new types of service, by Dr. Bhakti Gala. As the Indian LIS (library and information science) curriculum was apparently seen to not be delivering RDM training to any great extent yet, the researcher had asked how the librarians had acquired knowledge of RDM. She said that about half the librarians who had pursued self-training had learned from the free, online MANTRA course (which stands for Research Data Management Training), offered by the University of Edinburgh.

The Chair of the panel, Prof Shalini Urs, with whom I had had a conversation over dinner with about the name of the course, said [naming me, as I sat in the audience] that I would be happy to hear that was the case, to which I of course smiled and nodded. Alluding to our prior conversation about whether the name was a cultural [mis-]appropriation or not, she looked me in the eye and said, “It is Our MANTRA, now.” Which is, of course, the great thing about Openness.