Wednesday, 19 October 2011
MaDAM: A JISC MRD Project for Research Data Management in the Biosciences... on the move
Being in Manchester for the JISC Research Information management (RIM2) event, Sonex didn’t miss the opportunity it provided for paying a visit to the University of Manchester John Rylands University Library and meeting the JISC MRD MaDAM Project team. The 'MaDAM Pilot data management infrastructure for biomedical researchers at University of Manchester' has been funded by the JISC Managing Research Data Programme from Oct 2009 to Jun 2011 and has provided an inspiring example on how to start building an institutional research data management infrastructure almost from scratch.
In order to start developing this RDM infrastructure (see the Project Final Report for details), MaDAM focused on a set of research groups from the biomedical sciences strand aiming to learn about the ways they dealt with data management and to provide them -with their own close involvement- with tools to improve and standardise such practices. Selected research groups -Electron and Standard Microscopy group and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Neuropsychiatry Unit- were chosen due to their common need to deal with large images as their main source of research data.
Project focus on a rather narrow research scope was one of the keys to its success - due to its resulting ability to define common ways for dealing with the information, eg at metadata level. The MaDAM planning included further RDM strategy extension to other research groups within the UoM based on the lessons learnt from its application to the few initially selected groups. The MiSS Project (MaDAM into Sustainable Service), funded by the JISC MRD Programme 2011-2013, will be dealing with the RDM strategy extension and widening into the whole of the UoM research works along next years.
An Oracle APEX-based research data management application was developed by MaDAM for the concerned UoM research groups -later to be revamped in order to adapt it to the regular software standards applied at UoM. Frequent meetings were held with researchers along the aplication development so their feedback could be collected to ensure it would meet their needs. Storage needs per researcher per year were estimated (at around 500 GB), a metadata standard for specific data description was devised and stored in the RDM application, and work was carried out with interoperability isses in mind, both with the University CRIS in order to automatically populate Grant and Project information attached to datasets, and with the UoM Fedora-based eScholar IR, where final-version datasets would be transferred via Sword for dissemination, sharing and re-use.
Along the MaDAM Project several conceptual needs regarding the implementation of a solid RDM infrastructure across the UoM (and beyond) were identified -which were later included in the Project Final Report- the main two of which are the following:
- Some means of academic recognition of data-related work by researchers should be put in place in order to promote their involvement in RDM schemas and the adoption of common practices,
- A research data management policy should be adopted by the University of Manchester similar to the one issued at U Edinburgh so that some guidelines are established for providing support to researcher RDM tasks.
MaDAM gradual roll-out to other UoM research groups will face a set of challenges, research data being so discipline-specific. However, plans for such an extension and for ensuring the required institutional support for such a move were designed along MaDAM development -which saw the interest in taking part in the pilot project by a number of additional UoM research groups- and extension work will start soon.