Associate Director, Digital Library Programmes and IT, Bodleian Libraries
Research & Development Project Manager, Bodleian Libraries
Research data are at the heart of scholarly advancement. They are increasingly made available on the Internet as underpinnings of research publications or directly exposed as primary research outputs. These emerging trends in scholarly communication are now backed by policy: The UK government is committed to opening up public sector data. The Research Councils UK (RCUK) Common Principles on Data Policy state that “Publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner that does not harm intellectual property.”
The challenge for institutions is that research methodologies and the consequent data management practices vary widely across academic subjects and departments. As a consequence, supporting services for researchers have to be generic enough to scale but take into account subject specific requirements.
Support services at Oxford University have been thoroughly studied and prepared in a series of projects, most notably funded by JISC and the University Modernisation Fund. The service family is designed to support researchers in applying best practice and providing e-infrastructure to store and subsequently curate research data, consistent with the University’s research data policy.
The service family at Oxford University foresees a multi-agency approach with the University’s Research Services, IT Services and the Bodleian Libraries working in partnership with the academic divisions. It defines ‘help-not-hinder’ services for different parts of the research life cycle:
• Inform: The Data Management Hub website is the center of information and support. It links to personal help, policies and subject specific training (including through Oxford’s Doctoral Training Centers).
• Plan: Data management plans, as increasingly required by funders, can
be generated with DMPonline, a widely used tool that is adapted to Oxford’s needs and integrated with other services.
• Work: The actual work with data during a research project is the area showing the most diverse use of services inside and outside of the University. Generic tools at Oxford include an easily deployable database (ViDaaS) and the drop-box like DataStage. These are available for embedding in the local research context.
• Archive: DataBank provides a durable home for research data that is produced and to be held at the University of Oxford. DataBank supports various formats, including software, and different access conditions, ranging from a dark archive to publishing data with a locally minted digital object identifier (DOI).
• Find: DataFinder enables data generated at Oxford to be discoverable. DataFinder also keeps records of externally available data that represent Oxford’s research results.
Researchers will have a seamless experience when using the research data services at Oxford University. For example, information provided in DMPonline reappears in DataFinder and DataStage automatically transfers data into DataBank, when a durable version is required. Most services are operational individually and the launch of the complete service family is planned for 2013.
Contributors to this work include Paul Jeffreys, Sally Rumsey, Neil Jefferies, David Shotton, Glenn Swafford, James Wilson, Wolfram Horstmann, and others.