Faculties and units can support researchers through a co-ordinated data management framework of shared best practices. With that aim, the suggested actions presented here include key activities for evaluating existing research data management practices and developing data management planning strategies.
How does the faculty/unit demonstrate its commitment to improving research data management?
- Add research data management as a standing item to the agenda of relevant meetings (e.g. research committees, research training committees, general staff meetings) - your faculty representative on the Research Data Management Advisory Group should provide a two-way communication channel about data management initiatives and issues.
- Establish a subcommittee or working group to work on a local action plan - the university's Research Data Management Strategy 2012-2015 may help you work out what is needed and how to prioritise it.
- Build relationships at a senior level with the central units - eSolutions, Library, Monash e-Research Centre (MeRC - that can help your faculty/unit achieve its research data management goals.
Steps to ensure researchers are aware of their research data management obligations?
- Add links to the Code for Responsible Conduct of Research, the Research Data Management website and the Research Data Management Policy and associated procedures to faculty and unit websites.
- Include data management documentation and discussions in researcher inductions (both staff and Graduate Research students), performance reviews (staff), candidature milestone reviews (Graduate Research students) and procedures for exiting the University.
- Provide information to staff seeking grants about the data management requirements of the funding agencies to which they apply.
- Invite the Library Research Infrastructure Team and Monash e-Research Centre (MeRC) to deliver an information session or skills development seminar, and encourage research staff and students to attend.
- Review research methods units offered by the faculty/unit to see if there are opportunities to improve student awareness.
- Ensure staff know that the University has a Research Infrastructure Manager who can provide advice, make referrals and coordinate skills development programs.
Steps to ensure researchers are aware of the contribution research data could make to research impact?
- Encourage researchers seeking grants to consider at the start of the project how dissemination of data (where this is not limited by ethical and commercial constraints) might enhance the impact of the research.
- Encourage researchers to find out more about data archives and repositories, and to consider the specifications (e.g. for file formats, documentation and re-use) of those archives and research repositories at an early stage of the project.
- Use staff bulletins, email newsletters and staff meetings to notify staff of data-related changes in funding agency policy.
- Consider how your faculty/unit's current processes for identifying and collecting research outputs could be extended to published / disseminated data.
Steps to improve research data management practices and address common areas of concern?
- Check processes and documentation, such as IP assignment by students to the university, collaboration agreements, contracts and nondisclosure agreements, are clear about data ownership.
- Encourage researchers to have open and early discussions with team members, supervisors/supervisees, and collaborators about data ownership and potential re-use.
- Review processes and documentation relating to ethics applications, to ensure data dissemination goals are considered and that strategies that support future use of valuable data (anonymisation, de-identification, open consents, embargos) are considered.
- Bring to the attention of new and existing staff the availability of Monash's research data storage encourage or mandate its use.
- Offer staff central, more secure spaces for storing non-digital data during projects and for the statutory retention period.
- Offer staff central services that facilitate the secure destruction of data (e.g. shredders, confidential waste bin collections).
- Review requests for purchases of data storage devices (e.g. portable hard drives, and USB sticks) and services (e.g. 'cloud' storage hosted outside the university) - consider refusing requests if needs can be met by University-hosted services.
- Promote good documentation practices, through inductions, seminars, and supervision, and the development of relevant local procedures, e.g. Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs), folder structures and file naming guidelines, data dictionaries, records of experimental parameters and study protocols.
How aware are professional staff (especially in research support areas) of the research data management needs of the faculty/unit, and of the advisory and technical services that Monash offers?
- Include research data management in professional staff inductions (both staff and Graduate Research students).
- Invite the Library and Monash e-Research Centre (MeRC) to deliver an information session or skills development seminar, and encourage professional staff to attend.
- Ensure staff know that the University Library has a Research Infrastructure Team who can provide advice, make referrals and coordinate skills development programs.