Let It Go: The risks and rewards of researcher-led Research Data Management services

HIGMAN, Rosie (2017) Let It Go: The risks and rewards of researcher-led Research Data Management services. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2017 – Wrocław, Poland – Libraries. Solidarity. Society. in Session S06 - Satellite Meeting: Library Theory and Research Section joint with Preservation and Conservation Section and Information Technology Section.

Bookmark or cite this item: https://library.ifla.org/id/eprint/1726
Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Let It Go: The risks and rewards of researcher-led Research Data Management services

The Research Data team at the University of Cambridge sits within a wider Office of Scholarly Communication and provides services including advice, a repository and regular training in Research Data Management (RDM). The team initially focused on complying with funder policies in training and information sessions for researchers. This method had limited success and failed to engage researchers, so RDM services are now provided through a more democratic approach which focuses on researchers’ needs (Teperek, Higman and Kingsley, 2017). This means that services are constantly evolving in response to feedback from researchers, and a community of interested researchers and support staff have been formed to help deliver services. There have been clear rewards from adopting this approach including improved researcher engagement, increased awareness of RDM across the University and ultimately more relevant RDM provision for our service users. However, these rewards need to be contrasted with the risks of this approach, in particular researchers going ‘off-message’ when delivering training and managing the different needs of the disciplines we serve with limited resources. Attempting to balance these needs also raises a broader tension with institutional priorities, which are focused on compliance with funder policies, and produces questions about whose needs should take precedence. There are inevitable difficulties in ‘letting go’ of control over RDM services and balancing the conflicting priorities this approach has uncovered, but the researcher engagement it has delivered suggests that this is a worthwhile endeavour. This paper will explore these issues through looking at researcher-led events on issues including software management and electronic lab notebooks.

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