Keith Munro, new Research Data Support Assistant

Hello, my name is Keith Munro and on March 4th 2024 I began my new role as a Research Data Support Assistant. Immediately prior to joining the Research Data Service (RDS), I studied for a PhD in Computer and Information Science at the University of Strathclyde. My thesis studied the information behaviour of hikers on the West Highland Way, see below for a photo of me during data gathering, with a particular focus on embodied information that walkers encountered, the classification of information behaviour in situ and well-being benefits resulting from the activity. I was lucky to present at the Information Seeking In Context conference in Berlin in 2022 and I am still working on getting a number of the findings from my thesis published in the months ahead. I passed my viva on Feb 2nd, so the timing of starting this job has been excellent.

Before my PhD, I studied for a MSc in Information and Library Studies, also from the University of Strathclyde, so there was always a plan to work in the library and information sector, but as my Masters degree was finishing during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Spring/Summer 2020, I decided to take an interesting diversion, the scenic route, if you will, with the PhD! My Masters thesis was on the information behaviour of DJ’s, motivated by my own, lucky to do it but not exactly high-profile, experience as a DJ. From this, I was very fortunate to win the International Association of Music Librarians (UK & Ireland branch) E.T. Bryant Memorial Prize, awarded for a significant contribution to the literature in the field of music information. Subsequently, findings from this have been published in the Journal of Documentation and Brio.

Since starting my new role I have been greatly impressed by the team I have joined, who all bring a wealth of experience from across the academic spectrum and have also been very warm in welcoming me and in sharing knowledge. I hope I can bring my study and research experience to complement what the RDS team is doing and I am excited to be learning more about research data management. The size of the University of Edinburgh can be daunting and learning all the acronyms will take some time I suspect, but the range of research I have already encountered in reviewing submissions to DataShare has been fascinating, including Martian rock impacts and horse knees, something I’m sure will continue to be the case!

Research Data Support team and DCC to host Skills4EOSC Fellow

University of Edinburgh has been chosen as one of 12 European institutions to host sponsored short secondments for data professionals in Open Science, as part of the Skills4EOSC Horizon Europe project. Whilst the Digital Curation Centre is a partner in the Skills4EOSC project (EOSC is the European Open Science Cloud), the Research Data Support team has been asked to be the primary host for the secondment, so the ‘fellow’ can participate and engage in the team’s day-to-day activities in supporting and training researchers in an academic setting.

Promotional image for Skills4EOSC fellowship

The project aims to develop common methodologies, activities and training resources to unify the current training landscape into a collaborative and reliable ecosystem and to provide dedicated community-specific support to leverage the potential of EOSC for open and data-intensive research. A number of enquiries have already been received and plans are currently underway with Library Research Support and the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) to support the application of a European candidate to work with the team for a month in either April or July, 2024, with a deadline for the application of 31 October. More information is at https://www.skills4eosc.eu/participate/fellowship-programme.

 

Digital Research Services: How we can support your research

[This is a guest blog post by our new DRS Facilitator Sarah Janac. The Research Data Service is one of a number of digital research services at the University of Edinburgh.]

Many researchers rely on digital tools and computational methods for their work, and, for this, the University offers several state-of-the-art facilities. However, it is easy to get lost in the sheer number of tools and providers. Digital Research Services are here to help. 

Who are Digital Research Services (DRS)? 

Digital Research Services offer a single point of access for all things digital research across the University. We connect researchers with the digital tools and services from Information Services and other providers. We make it our priority to deliver tailored support so that researchers get the best use of the resources out there. 

We love the research lifecycle! 

The research lifecycle is the cornerstone of our work. We collaborate with service providers from Information Services Group and beyond to support you in all stages of your research and anticipate challenges which might come up.  For instance, we can support you in developing your funding application, ensuring you fully cover the costs related to the digital aspects of your project. We can help you devise a plan for storing your data properly and share it with your collaborators. We can support you in finding the research computing services required for analysis. We will help you think about archiving your data and making it accessible to other researchers, utilising trusted repositories. Finally, we can also support you in the dissemination of research outputs.  

How do we support you? 

First of all, our website offers a one-stop shop for digital tools, training and events. You can browse through the different tools that the University offers, see if there is relevant training and read up on case studies describing how these tools have been used by researchers before.  

If you have specific questions or require tailored support and advice, you can get in touch with one of our team members. We are a small team of 3 people, each with expertise for one of the three colleges: 

  • Eleni has a background in digital humanities. She has been a research facilitator for a number of years now and is the first port of call for researchers at the College of Art, Humanities and Social Sciences;  
  • Andre has a background in civil engineering, both in industry as well as in academia. He is there to support researchers in the College of Science and Engineering; 
  • Sarah has academic and hands-on experience in the medical field. She is here to assist with queries from the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine 

We work closely with technical experts of various service providers and have contacts across the University. This means that if we can’t answer your question ourselves, we will find someone who can.  

Finally, we have a range of exciting events coming up! These can help you further your digital skills, grow your network and exchange ideas. 

Scale up your research design

Upcoming events in Semester 2 

Early Career Researcher Forum  

The Early Career Researcher Forums provide a platform to exchange ideas, develop a network and explore opportunities on topics relevant to digital research. Members of the forum can propose a theme and lead discussions based on their research interests. These may include: the creation of digital management plans; use of various digital tools and resources; data storage/preservation/sharing; publication of research outputs; open publishing; etc.  

The forum is open to Early Career Researchers and PhD students at the University across all schools – the aim is to encourage interdisciplinary dialogue and networking. The Research Facilitation Team will be present to help lead the sessions. Sign up here.   

Early Career Researcher design

Digital Research Ambassador Internship Scheme 

After a successful run in the previous years, Digital Research Services are planning another fully funded internship scheme. We will be matching interns – postgraduate students with strong digital research, data and computing skills – with host projects across the University.  

  • As an intern, you will bring in data and research compute expertise, contributing to digital skill development and project planning. In addition, you will gain hands-on interdisciplinary research experience.  
  • As a host, you will get support and gain new perspectives in using digital tools and services. You will develop additional dimensions to your digital research plans and inspire a new generation of researchers. 

If you would like to take part, please register your interest here so we can plan accordingly. More information, including previous projects, can be viewed here.  

Lunchtime Seminars 

The seminars are open to all, and will cover a wide range of themes and research services. They will help you gain awareness of digital research services, learn the fundamental aspects of the digital research life cycle and discover the challenges and opportunities of data and computing services.  

There is a mini networking session immediately before each lunchtime seminar.  

The themes for Semester 2 are as follows: 

  • Organise and Store |30th March 2023. Book your place here 
  • Publish, Share and Preserve | 28th April 2023. Book your place here  
  • Interpret and Analyse | 17th May 2023. Book your place here

Keep in touch! 

You can also stay up to date by joining our mailing list and following our Twitter and LinkedIn pages.  

Link to our website: Digital Research Services at the University of Edinburgh 

Link to our brochure: DRS Facilitation – UoE Digital Research Services Brochure DIGITAL.pdf – All Documents (sharepoint.com) 

Sarah Janac
Digital Research Services Facilitator
Information Services

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