Keeping Research Data Safe and the benefits of Orbital

Posted on March 8th, 2012 by Paul Stainthorp

Note of apology: early in December 2011 we attended the launch event of the JISC Managing Research Data programme at the National College for School Leadership in Nottingham. I managed to blog day 1 of the event there and then. Unfortunately my notes on day 2 fell into an abyss. Here they are: late, but unscathed.

Aspire!

The first exercise (on this second day of the programme launch event) was to examine the benefits and metrics checklists provided by the KRDS frameworks project, and to identify the benefits that Orbital will provide & that we can measure. Then to blog a first statement of the benefits we expect Orbital will generate.

KRDS = Keeping Research Data Safe

Notes from Neil Beagrie‘s presentation on the benefits analysis toolkit (which I have already blogged about at the RDMF7 event, but noted here in more detail.)

  • There are two strands to the KRDS toolkit. These tools can be combined for maximum effect (and to reduce wasted effort); tools can also be customised to specific project needs:
    1. The KRDS Benefits Framework (guide + worksheet)
    2. The KRDS/I2S2 value chain and benefit impact tool (guide + impact statement + impact analysis worksheet)
  • Designed for use by wide audience over the full RDM project lifecycle.
  • Conisider the KRDS Benefits Framework ‘triangle’
    • What is outcome? direct/indirect
    • When is it received? near-term/long-term
    • Who benefits? internal/external
  • Tips: quantitative benefits must be measurable (“cashable“) – if not within the project lifecycle then longer-term benchmarking… qualitative benefits could take the form of case studies (working in a team can help to tone down the subjectivity of benefit assessments. Don’t go it alone!)
  • More information at: http://beagrie.com/krds-i2s2.php
  • Previous RMD programme produced benefits report & case studies which can be useful reference points.

Practical workshop

The KRDS benefits and metrics handouts provided here were extremely useful in developing this first statement of benefits for the Orbital project.

Points from the round-table discussion:

  • Checklist v useful brainstorming exercise – not a to do list!
  • Want to do everything and world peace too
  • But how make relevant to project? Target useful examples of top-level things
  • How evidence?
  • Lack of evidence/measurement not a reason not to do it – think of a way of measuring!”
  • Don’t rely on q’aires :-)
  • Think of benefits from the programme as a whole into which orbital can feed in
  • Practical time & efficiency savings for researcher – i.e. not having to go to london with a USB in pocket
  • Similarities engineering with other applied – e.g. NHS
  • Case studies/user story – iterative method  – as user requirements change (become more mature) – that’s a way of measuring benefit!
  • Set actions for the steering group / RIEC

Benefits of Orbital

This is the list of benefits we came up with. Bear in mind, some of them are benefits specific to an MRD project, such as Orbital, but some of benefits of any large project where the institution has a vested interest. Note that some of these can also be found in the ‘Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes’ section of our Project Plan. As Joss mentions in the post on awareness of open source, not all benefits can be anticipated and there may be outcomes of the project, which are quite tangential to the original objectives. We especially look forward to those!

  • Very mention of Orbital attracting expressions of interest from research staff applying for funding. Researchers have to consider RDM when writing bids. We’re doing their work for them!
  • Knock on effect on other university services: authentication, repository, staff profiles, cloud computing, software development environment and methodology, open source awareness and guidance.
  • Supports the development of RDM plans and policies.
  • MRD programme activity is akin to staff training and development of a community of practice.
  • Combines and improves our understanding about research administration, research methods, research data and research outputs.
  • Changes to researcher practices. Improves RDM practices.
  • Should reduce institutional risk (legal liabilities of commercial contracts)
  • Simplifies collaboration among researchers
  • Produces open source software for re-use
  • Provides rapid access to results and derived data
  • Increases awareness of support among researchers. e.g. Aids grant writing.
  • Produces reliable citations of research data
  • Embeds institutional support and training
  • No recreation of existing data. Better security, greater efficiency.
  • Improved version control and transparency.
  • Improved understanding of research methods.
  • Further thinking about and planning for the sustainability of institution-wide services. Who pays?

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