Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: Mar. & Apr. 2015

9 EPSRC grant holders and researchers were interviewed as follow-up to the EPSRC Expectations Awareness Survey conducted in February.

A new leaflet detailing all systems in the RDM portfolio is being created, which will explain the Data Asset Register, and the use of PURE, in the context of all the systems available across the research lifecycle.

The PURE system now has a module that allows the datasets to be described. This fulfils EPSRC Research Data Expectations requiring datasets to be described and those descriptions made available online. Datasets described in PURE are shown as part of staff online profiles in Edinburgh Research Explorer alongside other research outputs.

The RDM Service Coordinator gave an invited presentation at the “Open access and research data management: Horizon 2020 and beyondâ€� FOSTER Workshop, University College Cork, Eire (15 Apr. 2015) – https://www.fosteropenscience.eu/content/looking-after-your-data-rdm-edinburgh-institutional-approach

DCC and RDM programme staff to meet with key contacts in selected schools to discuss local support and draft guidance.

DataShare release 1.7.2 went live in April with a new default open licence – Creative Commons International Attribution, 4.0 (CC-BY 4.0) to replace the Open Data Commons Attribution licence.

Discussion is on-going between UNC-Chapel Hill, Data Library and colleagues in Web, Learning, and Teaching Division about collaborating on ‘MANTRA as a MOOC’ to be delivered next autumn.

ITI / Research Services are to investigate provision of a hosted GIT service for research software generated for research at the university.

RDM programme webpages in Polopoly are being checked for accuracy and compliance for their planned migration to Drupal.

All Schools in CHSS have now added links to the RDM Programme website and other RDM pages through their intranets. GeoSciences, Chemistry, Informatics and Mathematics in CSE have also added said links via their intranets.

Content has been finalised for the new ‘Working with personal and sensitive data’ RDM course.

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator


Posted in Uncategorized

EPSRC Expectations Awareness Survey

As many of you will already know EPSRC set out its research data management (RDM) expectations for institutions in receipt of EPSRC grant funding in April 2012, this included the development of an institutional ‘Roadmap’. EPSRC assessment of compliance with these expectations will begin on 1 May 2015 for research outputs published on or after that date.

In order to comply with EPSRC expectations and to implement the University’s RDM Policy, the University of Edinburgh has invested significantly in RDM services, infrastructure (incl. storage and security) and support as detailed in the University of Edinburgh’s RDM Roadmap.

In an effort to gauge the University of Edinburgh’s ‘readiness’ in relation to EPSRC’s RDM expectations, we are conducting a short survey of EPSRC grant holders.

The survey aims to find out more about researcher awareness of those expectations concerning the management and provision of access to EPSRC-funded research data as detailed in the EPSRC Policy Framework on Research Data.

We aim to conduct follow-up interviews with EPSRC grant holders who are willing to talk through these issues in a bit more detail to help shape the development of the RDM services at the University of Edinburgh.

We will endeavour to make available some of our findings shortly. In the meantime, if you want to use or refer to our survey we have posted a ‘demo’version below:

Should you decide to make use of our survey, let us know, as we can potentially share our data with each other to benchmark our progress.

(As an aside Oxford University have crafted a useful data decision tree for EPSRC-funded researchers at Oxford)

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Services Coordinator


Highlights from the RDM Programme Progress Report: Nov – Dec 2014

  • Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) for the RDM programme was completed and published on the Estates and Buildings website (see: http://www.docs.csg.ed.ac.uk/EqualityDiversity/EIA/Research_Data_Management_Programme_%28RDM%29_%28IS%29.pdf)
  • Stuart Macdonald and co-author Rory Macneil (RSpace) had a paper (Service integraiton to Enhance RDM: Electronic laboratory Notebook Case Study) accepted for presentation at the International Conference on Digital Curation (London, Feb. 2015).
  • Work has commenced to update deadlines and deliverables in the RDM Project Plan.
  • Successful meeting held with the Software Sustainability Institute to discuss software preservation used/generated in the research process resulting in a number of areas of investigation (see: http://datablog.is.ed.ac.uk/2014/12/
  • FOSTER EU proposal funded for a training event based on MANTRA to be given to the Scottish Social Science Graduate Summer School programme.
  • All items in Datashare now have DataCite DOIs.
  • Data Library have established a new online statistical analysis and visualisation service (SDA) which can provide an add-on service for DataShare.
  • 39 RDM Training courses scheduled for Jan-June 2015. Training materials for two new courses is also being prepared.
  • All data from College File servers complete with all data expected to have been migrated to Datastore by end of January 2015.
  • Positive review and report received on the DataStore Infrastructure by external consultant.
    Edinburgh DMP template revised based on Action group Feedback.
  • Visitors from Germany (Goettingen, November), Switzerland (Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, December), and France (Sciences Po, December) met with IS colleagues to learn more about the RDM programme.
  • “Research Data MANTRA: A Labour of Love” (by Robin Rice) was published to Journal of eScience Librarianship following invitation and a peer review process: http://escholarship.umassmed.edu/jeslib/vol3/iss1/4
  • Two submissions to the Jisc Digital Festival event in March (RDM Training with MANTRA & RDM Programme @ Univ. of Edinburgh) have been accepted.

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator


Posted in Uncategorized

Research Data Spring – blooming great ideas !

The University of Edinburgh have been busy putting ideas together for Jisc’s Research Data Spring project, part of the research at risk co-design challenge area, which aims to find new technical tools, software and service solutions, which will improve researchers’ workflows and the use and management of their data (see: http://researchdata.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2014/11/24/research-data-spring-let-your-ideas-bloom/).

Library and University Collections in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Manchester have submitted an idea to prototype and then develop ann open source data archive application that is technology agnostic and can sit on top of various underlying storage or archive technologies – see: http://researchatrisk.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Develop-a-DataVault/102647-31525)

EDINA & Data Library have submitted two ideas, namely:

A ‘Cloud Work Bench’ to provide researchers in the geospatial domain (GI Scientists, Geomaticians, GIS experts) with the tools, storage and data persistence they require to conduct research without the need to manage the same in a local context that can be fraught with socio-technical barriers that impede the actual research (see: http://researchatrisk.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Cloud-Work-Bench/101899-31525)

An exploration of the use of Mozilla Open Badges as certification of completion of MANTRA (Research Data Management Training), a well-regarded open educational resource (see: http://researchatrisk.ideascale.com/a/dtd/Open-Badges-for-MANTRA-resource/102084-31525)

Please register with ideascale (http://researchatrisk.ideascale.com/) and vote for our blooming great ideas!!

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator


Posted in Uncategorized

Sustainable software for research

In an earlier blog post (October 2013) Stuart Lewis discussed the 4 aspects of software preservation as detailed in a paper by Matthews et al, A Framework for Software Preservation, namely:

    1. Storage: is the software stored somewhere?
    2. Retrieval: can the software be retrieved from wherever it is stored?
    3. Reconstruction: can the software be reconstructed (executed)?
    4. Replay: when executed, does the software produce the same results as it did originally?

It is with these thoughts in mind that colleagues (1 December 2014) from across IS (Applications Division, EDINA, Research and Learning Services, DCC, IT Infrastructure) met with Neil Chou Hong (Director of the Software Sustainability Institute) (SSI) to discuss how the University of Edinburgh could move forward on the thorny issue of software preservation.

The take home message agreed by all at the meeting was that it will be easier to look after software in the future if software is managed well just now.

In terms of progressing thinking in this regard there were more questions than answers. Matters to investigate include:

  • capturing research software products in the Pure Data Asset Registry
  • understanding the number of research projects creating software
  • creating high-level guidance around software development and licensing (with links to SSI and OSS Watch)
  • skills and training for early carrer researchers (such as through the Software Carpentry initiative)
  • tools to measure software uptake/usage in local research
  • institutional use of GitLab

Details of a report to be published in Times Higher Education (THE) detailing software generation as part of the research process will be forwarded by Neil upon publication and linked to from this site.

Much food for thought and further discussion!

Stuart macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator

Neil (SSI)


Posted in Uncategorized

RDM Surgery!

Do you have a query about storing, sharing or preserving your research data? Do you need assistance with a Data Management Plan?

RDM Service staff will be in the Pop-up library space on the first floor of the Main Library on Monday 29 September (2pm-4pm) to answer any questions you may have about our services including:

For further information please also visit:

So please pop by and pay us a visit and let us answer your Research Data Management queries.

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator
email: stuart.macdonald@ed.ac.uk


Posted in Uncategorized

Dealing with Data Conference & RDM Service Launch – summary

University of Edinburgh Research Data Management Service LogoInformation Services (IS) held a half-day conference in the Main Library on the subject of ‘Dealing with Data’ to coincide with the launch of the University of Edinburgh’s Research Data Management support services on 26 August.

University researchers presented to over 120 delegates from across the disciplinary and support spectrum on many aspects of working with data, particularly research with novel methods of creating, using, storing, or sharing data. Subjects included Big Data for disease control, managing West Nilotic language sound files, sharing brain images, geospatial metadata services, visualising qualitative data via carpets!

Dealing with Data Conference

The RDM Programme team are currently collecting feedback and will report on this and the conference in more detail via this blog.

‘Dealing with Data Conference’ delegates then gathered in the Main Library foyer to hear brief talks by Professor Jeff Haywood, Professor Peter Clarke and Dr John Scally followed by the formal launch of the RDM Services by the University’s Principal, Sir Timothy O’Shea who underlined the successful collaboration between research and support service communities in establishing research support services worthy of a leading UK research-intensive university.

University of Edinburgh RDM Service launch by Sir Timothy O'Shea

A ‘storify’ story of tweets collected during the launch and the conference is available, with pictures and perspectives from various attendees.

The launch of the IS-led RDM Services is the culmination of work detailed in the RDM Roadmap which began in earnest in August 2012 following approval of the RDM Policy by the University Court in May 2011.

Details of available and planned RDM Services for University of Edinburgh researchers were reported on in the blogpost: RDM Roadmap: Completion of Phase 1

Conference presentations can be downloaded from Edinburgh Research Archive (ERA) at: https://www.era.lib.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/9389

Stuart Macdonald
RDM Service Coordinator


RDM Roadmap: Completion of Phase 1

The Research Data Management (RDM) Programme is well underway with planning and pilot activity (phase 0 of the RDM Roadmap), and initial roll-out of primary services (phase 1) completed. Services include:

  • DMPonline – an online tool by the Digital Curation Centre that assists researchers to produce an effective data management plan (DMP) to cater for the whole lifecycle of a project
  • Research Data Blog – set up by the RDM Action Group to communicate progress on the RDM programme.
  • RDM Website – a One Stop Shop for all university RDM materials (FAQs, key messages, RDM planning guidance, service guides)
  • Research Data MANTRA – an online course designed for researchers or others planning to manage digital data as part of the research process
  • Edinburgh DataShare – the online digital repository of multi-disciplinary research datasets produced at the University of Edinburgh
  • DataStore – a new central facility to store data actively used in current research activities. DataStore provides all researchers with a free at point of use allocation (currently 0.5TB). Researchers can assign up to 50% (0.25TB) of their free individual allocation to shared project spaces. Additional capacity can be purchased above this, with support for very large data (>1PB) hosting available.

Phase 2: (June 2014 – May 2015) will see continued rollout and maturation of services. Services in development include:

  • the Data Asset Registry (DAR) – a catalogue of data assets produced by researchers working for the University of Edinburgh to aid discovery access and reuse
  • the Data Vault – a secure, private and long-term ‘vault’ of data that is only accessible by the creator or their representative

We are currently gathering requirements to inform design of the DAR and Data Vault services. Upcoming Roadmap milestones will subsequently tackle requisite interoperation between existing and planned RDM services.

There are a number of different groups within the university and outside with whom we need to communicate our RDM programme. These include research active staff, support and administrative staff, university committees and groups (research policy group, library and IT committees, knowledge strategy committee) as well as external collaborators and stakeholders such as funding bodies etc. This is being done through a variety of communication activities including a range of training programmes on research data management (RDM) in the form of workshops, seminars and drop in sessions to help researchers with research data management issues along with formal and bespoke awareness raising sessions within schools for research and support staff. The clear message that we want to communicate is that the University is committed to and has invested in RDM services, training, and support, and that the University is supporting researchers, encouraging good research practice, and effecting culture change.

The RDM Services will be formally launched by the Principal on 26th August, 2014 along with an associated conference ‘Dealing with Data’ which offers researchers the opportunity to present on any aspect of the challenges and advances in working with data, particularly research data with novel methods of creating, using, storing, visualising or sharing data.

Stuart Macdonald

RDM Services Co-ordinator



AddressingHistory Update

The waiting is finally over! The AddressingHistory team are pleased to announce that the remodeled AddressingHistory crowdsourcing tool is now available. We have added six further Post Office Directories to the collection for the years 1881 and 1891 (to coincide with census years) and extended the geographic coverage to include the cities of Aberdeen and Glasgow in addition to Edinburgh.

The tool itself has been refashioned with refined parsing capabilities incorporated. Searches can now be made across those instances of records with multiple addresses, those records with multiple addresses also being editable. Spatial searching can now also be conducted using a bounding box facility and the searching of professions has been enhanced by assigning Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) codes to Professions.

As mentioned in a previous blog post you can now explore an “Augmented Reality” version of AddressingHistory using your iPhone or Android device.  Currently this is for Edinburgh only but plans are afoot to extend this to other geographies within the web tool.

In addition to new features and functionality it is now possible for requests to be made for a new POD to be added to AddressingHistory.  Once a request for a new POD has been made we can either provide assistance in using our POD parser (this requires some time and technical knowledge) to convert the requested POD, or we will add that POD to our priority list for future AddressingHistory development.

We are currently evaluating possible business models for sustainability and would like to hear of any ideas or initiatives that could feed into this exercise.

Please get in contact and let us know what you think.

Stuart Macdonald
AddressingHistory Project Manager

JISC Geo Tools event – Recommendations

The STEEV project led the discussion on two tasks at the #jiscGEO breakout sessions (as part of the JISC Geo Tools launch on Nov. 28 & 29).

The first task at table 6 was to come up with a recommendation about how spatial and temporal analysis can enhance research. Using the example of digitised boundaries for temporal spatial research the group discussed the unavailability of historic content (bearing in mind the volatile nature (in political terms) of boundaries!). Discussion also centred around the new INSPIRE directive and how compliant spatial datasets must have a temporal component (i.e. a start date). Views on a variety of spatio-temporal analytical approaches and utilities were exchanged – this led to the formulation of two recommendations, namely:

  • An audit is required of spatio-tremporal tools, utilities, procedures and techniques used within a research space
  • For the purposes of exchange and integration, the creation of an Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) XML-based spatio-temporal data standard

Many thanks to Mia Ridge (Open University), Neil Jakeman (Kings College London), Andrew Bradley (University of Leicester), Tom Ensom (UK Data Archive, University of Essex), Richard Fry (University of Glamorgan), Scott Orford (Cardiff University), Andrew Newton (University of Huddersfield), Jasper Tredgold (ILRT, University of Bristol), Kate Byrne (University of Edinburgh) for articulating said recommendations.

The second task at table 5 was to discuss and come up with recommendations about how to fully exploit spatial analysis within research.

Much of this discussion concentrated on spatial literacy as a means to both prepare and engage the student or researcher considering undergoing spatial analysis in an educational setting. The ubiquity of modern web mapping utilities, geo-tools, open geo-browsers means that it is easy to represent spatially a whole range of data. However whether the representation is accurate, makes sense or is reliable is another matter. Thus in order to ensure that spatial analysis is robust, can bear scrutiny, is accurate and understandable the group came up with the following recommendations, namely:

  • The establishment of a (JISC) spatial interest group (comprising a whole range of stakeholders) that can advise and critique on spatial analysis methods, applications, documentation, open materials and courses, and provide expertise. This may be national in remit.
  • To scope an ‘analytical framework’ robust enough to be cross-disciplinary, which would make explicit spatial representation for the purposes of interpretation, make explicit context be it physical, social, temporal. In addition this framework should be adaptable to work from the generic to the domain specific research scenario, use non-technical jargon and be critical in its approach to include both positive and negative case studies.

Many thanks to Martha LeGess (LaMa studio), Chris Bailey (ILRT, University of Bristol), Patricia Carbajales (Stanford University), Conor Smyth (EDINA, University of Edinburgh), Alexander Hirschfield (University of Huddersfield) for articulating said recommendations.