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Advancing Research Data Management in Universities of Science and Technology

Mattias Björnmalm; Federica Cappelluti; Alastair Dunning; Dana Gheorghe; Malgorzata Zofia Goraczek; Daniela Hausen; Sibylle Hermann; Angelina Kraft; Paula Martinez Lavanchy; Tudor Prisecaru; Barbara Sánchez; Robert Strötgen

The white paper ‘Advancing Research Data Management in Universities of Science and Technology’ shares insights on the state-of-the-art in research data management, and recommendations for advancement.

Acore part of the paper are the results of a survey, which was distributed to our member institutions in 2019 and addressed the following aspects of research data management (RDM): (i) the establishment of a RDM policy at the university; (ii) the provision of suitable RDM infrastructure and tools; and (iii) the establishment of RDM support services and trainings tailored to the requirements of science and technology disciplines.

The paper reveals that while substantial progress has been made, there is still a long way to go when it comes to establishing “advanced-degree programmes at our major universities for the emerging field of data scientist”, as recommended in the seminal 2010 report ‘Riding the Wave’, and our white paper offers concrete recommendations and best practices for university leaders, researchers, operational staff, and policy makers. 

The topic of RDM has become a focal point in many scientific disciplines, in Europe and globally. The management and full utilisation of research data are now also at the top of the European agenda, as exemplified by Ursula von der Leyen addressat this year’s World Economic Forum.However, the implementation of RDM remains divergent across Europe.

The white paper was written by a diverse team of RDM specialists, including data scientists and data stewards, with the work led by the RDM subgroup of our Task Force Open Science. The writing team included Angelina Kraft (Head of Lab Research Data Services at TIB, Leibniz University Hannover) who said: “The launch of RDM courses and teaching materials at universities of science and technology is a first important step to motivate people to manage their data. Furthermore, professors and PIs of all disciplines should actively support data management and motivate PhD students to publish their data in recognised digital repositories.”

Another part of the writing team was Barbara Sanchez (Head of Centre for Research Data Management, TU Wien) and Malgorzata Goraczek (International Research Support / Data Management Support, TU Wien) who added:“A reliable research data infrastructure is a central component of any RDM service. In addition to the infrastructure, proper RDM is all about communication and cooperation. This includes bringing tools, infrastructures, staff and units together.”

Alastair Dunning (Head of 4TU.ResearchData, Delft University of Technology), also one of the writers, added: “There is a popular misconception that better research data management only means faster and more efficient computers. In this white paper, we emphasise the role that training and a culture of good research data management must play.”

In the spirit of collaboration, and with the knowledge that community efforts will help take us all further, we hereby extend an open invitation for stakeholders who are interested in engaging in this area to contact us.

For more information about this position, please contact our Advisor for Research and Innovation Mattias Björnmalm.

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