Data management, information literacy and DaMSSI
The RIN takes the view that researchers’ knowledge and skills with regards to how they handle, manage and look after their data are an integral part of information literacy - thus ‘information’, in this sense, is taken to include data.
Organisations such as the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), the UK Data Archive (UKDA) and JISC have, in the UK, taken a leading role in promoting skills in data management. The RIN’s involvement in this area has focused in the charting of behaviour and the setting out of policy, for instance through our work on data sharing. More recent developments have brought the issue of data management competencies to the fore, for instance Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework (RDF) and more particularly JISC’s ﬁve coordinated projects on research data management training materials (RDMTrain), which ran until July 2011 - part of the JISC Managing Research Data Programme.
RIN collaborated with DCC and JISC to co-fund the Research Data Management Skills Support Initiative (DaMSSI), which ran from November 2010 to September 2011 as a support project for RDMTrain and was overseen by the Working Group on Information Handling. The report from the initiative can be found below.
DaMSSI tested the effectiveness of SCONUL’s Seven Pillars of Information Literacy and the RDF for consistently describing data management skills and skills development paths in UK HEI postgraduate courses. With the collaboration of the ﬁve RDMtrain projects, DaMSSI mapped individual course modules to the Seven Pillars and the RDF (the map is attached below), and identiﬁed basic generic data management skills alongside discipline-speciﬁc requirements. A synthesis of the training outputs of the projects was then carried out which investigated further the generic versus discipline-speciﬁc considerations and other successful approaches to training that had been identiﬁed as a result of the projects’ work.
In addition, DaMSSI produced a series of career proﬁles (see below) to help illustrate the fact that data management is an essential component - in obvious and not so obvious ways - of a wide range of professions. Accordingly students in a range of disciplines will need to acquire and hone their data management skills. The proﬁles should be of value for course providers but also may be a potential marketing tool for engaging with professional bodies to secure their endorsement for promoting and supporting data management skills development amongst professionals in their ﬁelds.
DaMSSI found that both the Seven Pillars and the RDF had potential for consistently and coherently describing data management skills training and embedding this within broader institutional postgraduate curriculums. However, additional discipline-speciﬁc references to data management skills could also be beneﬁcial for effective use of these models. DaMSSI’s synthesis work identiﬁed that the majority of core skills were generic across disciplines at the postgraduate level, with the discipline-speciﬁc approach showing its value in engaging the audience and providing context for the generic principles.
Findings were fed back to SCONUL and Vitae to help in the reﬁnement of their respective models, and DaMSSI worked alongside the RIN Information Handling Working Group to assist in the production of guidance for an information-handling version or ‘lens’ for the RDF. Finally, DaMSSI also worked with a number of other projects such as the DCC and Digital Curator Vocational Education Europe (DigCurV) to investigate ways to take forward the training proﬁling that was begun.