Published July 12, 2018 | Version v1
Presentation Open

Facing the challenges of Research Data Management: Lessons learnt at KU Leuven Libraries


One of the institutional prerequisites for open science and open data is a well-implemented strategy for research data management (RDM).

The ethical and scientific benefits of RDM have indeed been well established by researchers, university administrations and funding agencies alike. However, as funders’ requirements for soundly organizing, documenting, storing, sharing and archiving research data become more and more pressing, so is the need for suitable research infrastructures and support. From the onset, KU Leuven has identified KU Leuven Libraries as a valuable and valued partner in the development of the training and tools required to deal with the challenges of collecting, preserving and sharing research data. In close collaboration with the University’s ICT services, the legal department, KU Leuven research and development, the research coordination office and the Library Systems service LIBIS, an interdisciplinary team of library experts and ‘data stewards’ has been instrumental in translating the university’s data policy into concrete lines of action. At the intersections of innovative and sustainable publishing (of data), data literacy and open data, the group has played a key role in educating researchers, implementing the DMPOnline tool and studying the possibilities for developing an institutional repository.

In this case-based paper, the members of the working group share their combined experience in dealing with heterogeneous datasets and stakeholders based on the support provided in the context of the March 2018 call for project proposals by the Flemish Research Council. This was the first call in which this major funder for our university included questions on research data management. As such, it was also the first time that the group provided RDM-support at scale. The paper reflects on the merits and limitations of the KU Leuven approach and sketches out some guidelines for how lessons learnt can benefit other institutions. Questions that will be addressed include (but are not limited to):

1. How can RDM-support leverage academic libraries’ position of leadership in the context of Open Science? What strategic benefits can be gained from evaluating DMPs and surveying researchers from various career stages?

2. How can RDM-support and a data-oriented perspective cement the research library’s position as an educational centre (notably with regards to data literacy and interdisciplinary programmes like ‘digital humanities’)

3. To what extent can experiences in the field of RDM be used as a measure of the validity and applicability of such principles as ‘open data’ and ‘FAIR’ data.



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