Bill Worthington

Mar 302012

This is a very lengthy blog to catch up on a couple of months of non-stop JISCMRDness and set out the position of RTDK at the end of month six. There will be some seriously dry reporting later but I am going to start with an emotive whiz through a very busy but rewarding period.

February was a head down month, in which we pressed on with actual hands on things, and I tried to balance technical work with project management, with the odd programme event thrown in for entertainment.

Continue reading »

Mar 152012

Being a person of dubious recall I thought it best to reflect on the JISC MRD and DCC Workshop: Developing Institutional Research Data Management Policies as soon as possible.

I thought the use of Chatham House Rule throughout the event enabled full and franker discussions than can be the case in open forums and contributed to greater sense of ‘a problem shared’. I got one tweet out at the beginning and then became too busy following and contributing to the ebb and flow of the discussions to do any more. The twitter etiquette was hardly needed – it was all too engrossing. Continue reading »

Feb 152012

It was back to serious business in January with lots of activity in engagement, service development, and recruitment. All these strands took off at once in mid-month leaving me struggling to keep up, but it was good to see progress across all active work packages.

Work package WP1 – Audit current RDM practice at University of Hertfordshire

Cathy Tong and I continue to work on the audit in the interim before our new project officer becomes established. A picture is emerging with regard to existing centralised facilities. This shows a gap in provision for research groups where there are non-staff members involved, but also that there is under-utilisation of existing resources because researchers do not understand how to use or access them. I have blogged on this issue and started on a FAQ to counter the knowledge gap.

Cathy established two really interesting engagements, both valuable, but in different ways. One, in the Humanities, was very much forward looking and about possibilities; whilst the other, in Health, focused on solving an urgent Research Data Management problem in the here and now. Continue reading »

Feb 072012

The 2012 season of Information Hertfordshire Lunchtime Presentations got underway with with a session about Research Data Management.

There was some thoughtful debate which I will post here soon.     My recollection and reflection on the post presentation discussion are given in a comment below.

The presentation on the Service Oriented Toolkit for Research Data Management is available here. (PDF 1.6MB)

Feb 022012

University of Hertfordshire’s Data Management Policy, updated in 2011, contains several documents and appendices which govern how data in general, and research data in particular, should be gathered, used, disposed of, or retained. There is a section dedicated to research data in the Main policy document and an Appendix to support it.

In a nutshell, the policy says that:

The University owns data generated by its research; it expects data to be managed and shared in a robust and professional manner; and it places the responsibility for proper research data management with the Principal Investigator.

Continue reading »

Jan 222012

Research DataToolKit Guidance for Researchers
University of Hertfordshire internal use only. Draft version 0.1. 

How do I access my networked shared storage?
All staff have a personal area (U:drive) and departmental shared area (S:drive). If you are using a Windows machine on the staff network with the Novell client, your U: and S: drives should appear automatically when you open ‘My Computer’ or press Cmd-E.

What is the easiest way to use my U:drive?
Once you have opened U: for the first time make a folder within it to work in (Right click… New Folder). Click on this folder once to highlight it, then hold the Alt key down and drag the icon to a blank part of your desktop to make a shortcut. You can also Alt-drag the folder to your favourites area in an open file explorer, or on Windows 7, to the new taskbar. On subsequent sessions all you have to do is open one of these shortcuts, which will open your network storage, and then you can work start working with documents there.

Can Apple Macs use networked storage?
Yes – as long as the Mac is on the staff network. Finding your network storage is more difficult, but once you locate it the experience is just as good as for Windows. If you are a researcher RDTK can assist you, otherwise you should ask for the path to your network storage and find your way via Cmd-K (Go…Connect to Server…). Once you have mounted your network drives for the first time, follow the advice about working with shortcuts in the previous question, using the equivalent Mac commands (to make a shortcut/alias, use Cmd-Alt-drag). Continue reading »

Jan 202012

A rigorous Data Management Plan (DMP) is becoming an increasingly important device for any research project. It is hard to think of any activity than does not result in data in its broadest sense, and funding bodies are rapidly moving to a position where all grant applications will require a DMP. In addition, University of Hertfordshire’s Data Management Policy explicitly states that:

‘Data management is an essential and integral part of the responsible conduct of research’

Over and above regulation and meeting funder’s needs, the process of devising an appropriate plan can be an effective project planning tool and the plan can contribute to the quality of the outcomes of a project.

So what goes in a plan?Everything that pertains to the acquisition of, safe working with, and disposal or re-use of, research data.

The JISC funded Digital Curation Centre (DCC) has developed an online tool which greatly assists the process of making a Data Management Plan.  See

Continue reading »

Jan 182012

On the face of it, the data storage needs of researchers at University of Hertfordshire are generally well provided for within our ‘local cloud’.

The case for this statement is as follows:

  • all staff have a personal allocation of secure, robust, networked storage, accessible on and off campus (U:drive)
  • all staff have access to similar shared networked storage associated with their department or school of study (S:drive)
  • additional shared space, with access limited to a research group or centre, is available on request (R:drive)
  • all reasonable requests for storage resources from researchers who do not have the support of a specialist facility, can be, and are, supported

Nevertheless, the discussion we have had so far with researchers indicates that take-up of this centralised offer is poor. There are, as you might expect, many reasons for this picture. A few researchers are simply not aware they possess a notional 5GB of networked storage. A few don’t think to ask or don’t know who to ask about extending their provision. More common though, is the situation where people do not use their facility because of usability issues. These issues are sometimes real but often just perceived. Continue reading »

Jan 062012

This light-hearted yet deadly serious quiz is offered in response to Simon Hodson’s post about Bad RDM Practice.

Results as of mid-February:  a statistically insignificant three way tie!

Answer Votes Vote Count/Percentage
life continued blissfully unaware of a near miss 3 Votes(33%)
the research data in the laptop and backup portable disk were both destroyed 0 Votes(0%)
one or other copy of the data survived but it took a lot of effort and worry to retrieve it 3 Votes(33%)
the bio-hazard team arrived to impound my mug 3 Votes(33%)


The question is still open below.


Jan 062012

Progress seemed fitful in a month shortened by the MRD launch event and seasonal festivities. There was a lot of talking, and from a personal perspective it was interesting to have to curb my tendancy to want to build something, and try instead to sift through the many voices and conversations to identify profitable ways forward for #rdtk_herts. Continue reading »

Dec 072011

Composite usage snapshotThis is a quick note follow up on Brian Kelly’s blogging session from last week. This site uses WordPress with a kind of half way house between and a local installation – I am lucky enough that my colleagues in some far off basement maintain a shared installation of WordPress. This means it gets backed up and protected but at the same time I can manage the #rdtk_herts instance pretty much as I like and have full control over the look and feel and plugins. Definitely the best of both worlds.

If you are using WordPress, and haven’t already done so, I’d recommend installing a Google Analytics plugin.

Continue reading »

Dec 052011

Following on from Neil Beagrie’s session on cost and benefit analysis of RDM we moved on to a Thematic session on the business case for RDM, led by presentations from June Finch (University of Manchester, MaDAM and MiSS Projects) and James Wilson (University of Oxford, Sudamih, VIDaaS and DaMaRO Projects).

June gave us an account of strategies in the MaDAM project which were used to prepare a business case for development to service, and which are being pursued in MiSS; whilst James focused on the effort to identify efficiency benefits and cost savings in Sudamih, necessary to the launch of VIDaaS).

Continue reading »

Dec 032011

The breakout group for projects with a biomedical/health interest had representation from all strands of  the new programme and was included Stelios Alexandrakis & Anthony Thomas, University College London (Data Management Planning for Secure Services); Amanda Conway & Jennifer Crossley, University of the West of England (Managing Research Data: a pilot study in Health and Life Sciences); Michael Soljak, Imperial College London (Rapid Organisation of Health Research Data (ROHRD) Phase 1); Lindsay Wood, Newcastle University (Iridium); Bill Worthington, University of Hertfordshire (Service Oriented Toolkit for Research Data Management);  and Jonathan Tedds, University of Leicester (BRISSkit), who took the chair.

After introductions, Jonathan posed the question: ‘what are the common issues facing the group?’. The conversations that followed went through several phases and moved back and forth through themes that have become familiar from my recent travels in the MRD bubble. This post attempts to gather the discussion and straighten the meander:

Continue reading »

Nov 302011

Work package WP1 – Audit current RDM practice at University of Hertfordshire

Cardio and DAF : We have agreed a plan with Andrew McHugh of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) to carry out a Cardio Assessment with key UH stakeholders, followed by a Data Asset Framework (DAF) exercise with one of our large research groups in Health and Human Sciences.  Working with the Andrew will hopefully allow us to equip our own staff to deploy DCC tools and methods in the future, whilst conducting an effective audit in the present. The DCC have match funding, so project money spent with them is doubled up and looks like good value.  The micro plan for the Cardio deployment is this:

  • engage stakeholders (November, #rdtk_herts project team)
  • introduction workshop, in which DCC introduce the audit methodology (December, All stakeholders, DCC led, 1hour)
  • individual RDM assessments using the DCC’s online Cardio assessment tool (December/January, All stakeholders, at their convenience)
  • aggregate and analyse results (January, DCC)
  • feedback workshop (January, All stakeholders, DCC led, 1-2 hour)

Continue reading »

Nov 232011

UPDATED Jan 2012. The poster has been finessed a little for use in internal marketing of the project. 


Our poster for the JISC Managing Research Data Programme launch meeting at Nottingham has gone to print.

We have taken a fairly minimalist approach, choosing to visualise technology, methodology, outcome and impacts with simple graphics rather than attempt to regurgitate the detail of our project plan.

The aim is to stimulate discussion rather than convey detail at this early stage of the project cycle.

For those that are interested, it was made with Photoshop CS4 on OSX.

Click the image for a larger view. Also available in PDF.

Nov 152011

After five days of workshops, break out sessions, seminars and groups tasks at RDMF7 and DCC Roadshow Cambridge, this JISC project manager is now well versed in the language and lore of Research Data Management (RDM). As is often the case with these kind of events, you come away with more questions than answers, and having embarked with a fair idea of what I was doing, the RDM ‘horizon’ receded at times into a haze of unresolved issues. To bring back some perspective and to report back to my colleagues at University of Hertfordshire I did some reflection. This is a cut down version for public consumption.

Continue reading »

Nov 042011

Work package WP1 – Audit current RDM practice at University of Hertfordshire

We have had preliminary discussions with Principal Investigators and Research Group leaders in Health and Human Sciences; Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics; and History.

These discussions led to the Co-investigators for the project being identified and the first steps to collaboration being undertaken. Some early requirements for pilot services were revealed. Researchers from Health and Human Sciences have suggested three distinct research projects, covering a range of interventions at the beginning, middle, and end of the project lifecycle. This is encouraging for a good start to work packages WP2 & WP3. Continue reading »

Oct 102011

University of Hertfordshire published new policy and guidelines for staff with regard to Data Management on September 1, 2011. Most of the policy and its appendices are available publicly on the University’s Policy and Regulation web site under Data Management Policy.

Since this is a regulatory document, the language is ‘quasi-legal’, full of cross references to other policy, and naturally University of Hertfordshire centric.  However the main Policy Document does contain a useful and generally applicable set of definitions with regard to data, its owners and users.

Continue reading »

Oct 072011

The Service Oriented Toolkit for Research Data Management project is jointly funded by the University of Hertfordshire and JISC and will run from October 2011 to the end of March 2013.

The project will deliver a toolkit for researchers, which will define a number of services that can be used for good practice data and document management solutions throughout the lifecycle of a research project. The toolkit will include advice and guidance on:

  • Data management planning
  • Data management requirements of funding bodies
  • Data protection and IPR
  • Data storage, retrieval and sharing options that are cost-effective and offer on-demand services
  • Management of project documentation
  • Publication of datasets
  • Data retention and archiving

In addition it will also deliver a number of technology demonstrators for local, private cloud and public cloud IT systems to support Research Data Management.

The project will support the JISC strategy for a more dynamic and effective research environment as well as contributing to the achievement of the University of Hertfordshire’s key aspirations for the quality of our research.