Oct 292013

It has been a while….  but there has been plenty of activity following the conclusion of our two JISCMRD projects in June. Here goes for a quick roundup:

We have continued to spread the message by working at as many levels as we can get access to. We have a foothold in Generic Training for Researchers, the CPD programme from the Staff Development Unit, and Research Institute induction programmes. Because RDM is not a very appealing prospect and many people prefer targeted support, we are have added specific training for tools like DMPonline, Document Management, and Encryption to the broad spectrum RDM tonic. At the senior management level we have made presentations to Research Committee, the Chair of Board Designate and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

The trial of  https://fileexchange.herts.ac.uk/ has been a success. This will soon be an ‘officially’ supported service once we migrate it from its current position running on RacskSpace cloud servers to our own datacentre (you can use it as of now anyway).  FileExchange allows multi gigabyte files to be ‘dropped off’ and ‘picked up’ and automatically disposes of them after 7 days.  In many cases this answers the requirement to share data with a collaborator, where the nature of the share is a transfer rather than live co-working.

We are also continuing to explore other ways of weaning researchers off the use of desktop storage, unregulated storage offers such as Dropbox and fragile media such a USB sticks by making improved central storage available.  Working with Prolinx (www.prolinx.co.uk), who are a UH technology partner and JANET brokerage infrastructure provider, we hope to provide a storage solution that supports greater autonomous administration for research groups, backed by tiered levels of service, including backup and audit.   Improved working data storage is one part of a new Research Storage offer, which also includes a seat at our enterprise Document Management System, which proved popular with Health researchers during the JISCMRD project and has been rolled out extensively since. Document Management is not an appropriate tool for storing large amounts of already structured data, but it is a great system for recording the conduct of a project, for when a project uses common desktop formats to store data, or in particular, when a very high standard of data management and accountability is required.

Moving from working data to the end of the research data lifecycle, we are developing our institutional repository http://uhra.herts.ac.uk to support very long term storage of datasets. dSpace consultants @mire (www.atmire.com) are working to attach Arkivum (www.arkivum.com) A-Stor cloud based digital archiving service  to UHRA. A-Stor is an ultra robust, 3 copy, tape system. We aim to support different data journeys including Open Data, Embargoed, and access by criteria for sensitive data. A-Stor offers the lowest storage cost on appropriate terms, at around £200-£300/Terabyte/Year, which about half the best price for data stored on disc based storage. This is an important factor when there may be a requirement to retain very large volumes of data, toward Petabytes, within 3 to 5 years, for 10 to 30 years.

Research Data Management is recognised as an important element of both pre- and post-award research support and the impetus generated by the JISCMRD work is being taken forward in that context. We have started on new arrangements and workflows to bring together all the elements of research provision across the University into a more cohesive Research Support Service.  The idea will be to use Information Managers to broker with Principal Investigators, consult with service specialists, and agree a kind of service level agreement for necessary support for each research project, including non-funded activity.  With no new money identified as yet this is of course a challenge, but we are still fairly well placed to deliver on these new systems and services within the constraints of existing resources, and intend to do so.

The RDM microsite at http://rdm.herts.ac.uk/ is the new focus for all our advice and training materials. Check it out – it is full of great stuff! In addition, Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) staff are still available to address research group forums or particular RDM problems if you need them. Contact Bill Worthington, w.j.worthington@herts.ac.uk


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