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.

Dealing with Data 2019- Call for Contributions *Deadline Extended*

*We have had several requests for an extension to the submission deadline, so, we have decided to extend it until 12 noon on Friday 11th October!*

Dealing with Data 2019 will take place on the 27th of November in the Informatics Forum. This year our theme is “Collaboration Across the Nations: Managing, sharing and securing research data across space and time” and we are now inviting contributions from research staff and students at the University of Edinburgh.

In previous years DwD has attracted over 100 attendees from across the university to hear contributions by research staff and students at all stages of their careers and from diverse disciplines. You can view the presentations from 2017 & 2018 now on MediaHopper (https://media.ed.ac.uk/channel/Dealing+With+Data+2017+Conference/82256222)

The full Call for Contributions is below. If you have any questions please get in touch using on dealing-with-data-conference@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk

Dealing with Data Conference 2019 – Call for Contributions

Date:                     Wednesday 27th November 2019

Location:             Informatics Forum, George Square, Central Area

Theme:                Collaboration Across the Nations: Managing, sharing and securing research data across space and time

Possible Contributions: Presentation; Lightning talk; Poster; Demonstration of a tool or method supporting collaboration; Stall or exhibit, panel.

Call for contributions:

Collaboration is vitally important to academic and commercial research in all areas as it enables the pooling of resources to answer increasingly complex, or interdisciplinary research questions.

The effective collection, processing, and sharing of research data is integral to successful collaborations, but it can also present many challenges. In particular the practicalities of co-ordinating data management across large multi-centre collaborations, sharing large data, or handling sensitive data, can present difficulties if not planned for appropriately.

Dealing with Data 2019 is your opportunity to share with the UoE research community how you have addressed these issues to build successful collaborations, or the lessons you have learned which will enable you to be more successful in the future.

Contributions should be aimed principally at an academic audience, but the programme will seek to represent a wide range of scholarly disciplines.

Possible themes may include (but are by no means limited to):

  • Data sharing within research groups or labs;
  • Challenges of data sharing across the University or with external partners;
  • Managing and securing sensitive data across distributed research projects;
  • Interdisciplinary issues;
  • Tools for enabling or simplifying collaborative data collection, management or analysis;
  • Data sharing at scale;
  • Interoperability of (meta)data;
  • Legal and licensing issues;
  • Credit and contributions for data use and reuse, including after a project has ended.

For all contributions please send an abstract detailing the content and proposed format (maximum 500 words) to dealing-with-data-conference@mlist.is.ed.ac.uk by Friday 11th october.  Posters should be A0 in size, portrait orientation.

Proposals will be reviewed, and the event programme announced by Friday 25th October 2019.

Dealing with Data is an annual event sponsored and organised by the Research Data Service to provide a forum for University of Edinburgh researchers to discuss how they are benefiting from, or experiencing struggles with, the fast-changing research data environment.

Kerry Miller

Research Data Support Officer