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Getting the Central RDM Message Across: A Case Study of Central versus Discipline-Specific Research Data Services (RDS) at the University of Cambridge

Clair Castle ORCID logo
From the journal Libri

Abstract

RDS are usually cross-disciplinary, centralised services, which are increasingly provided at a university by the academic library and in collaboration with other RDM stakeholders, such as the Research Office. At research-intensive universities, research data is generated in a wide range of disciplines and sub-disciplines. This paper will discuss how providing discipline-specific RDM support is approached by such universities and academic libraries, and the advantages and disadvantages of these central and discipline-specific approaches.

A descriptive case study on the author’s experiences of collaborating with a central RDS at the University of Cambridge, as a subject librarian embedded in an academic department, is a major component of this paper. The case study describes how centralised RDM services offered by the Office of Scholarly Communication (OSC) have been adapted to meet discipline-specific needs in the Department of Chemistry. It will introduce the department and the OSC, and describe the author’s role in delivering RDM training, as well as the Data Champions programme, and their membership of the RDM Project Group. It will describe the outcomes of this collaboration for the Department of Chemistry, and for the centralised service.

Centralised and discipline-specific approaches to RDS provision have their own advantages and disadvantages. Supporting the discipline-specific RDM needs of researchers is proving particularly challenging for universities to address sustainably: it requires adequate financial resources and staff skilled (or re-skilled) in RDM. A mixed approach is the most desirable, cost-effective way of providing RDS, but this still has constraints.

Acknowledgements

I thank Marta Teperek, formerly Data Facility Manager at the OSC, now Data Stewardship Coordinator at TU Delft, who has consistently encouraged and supported me in all my RDM activities and who gave me the confidence to write and talk about this.

I thank Deborah Longbottom, Head of Graduate Education at the Department of Chemistry, for her enthusiastic support for the RDM training that has been so successful.

I thank my colleague at the OSC, Claire Sewell, for her wise words of advice.

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Received: 2018-05-28
Revised: 2018-08-31
Accepted: 2018-10-24
Published Online: 2019-05-31
Published in Print: 2019-05-26

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