Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Research Data Management Workshops: Lessons Learned

From January 22 to March 5, 2014, three University of Washington librarians offered a seven-week course in research data management. As a complement to the two workshops we offered in 2013, which were geared toward research data management basics for librarians, this series was aimed at graduate students, primarily in the School of Forest and Environmental Sciences, Biology, Engineering, the iSchool and Health Sciences.

We ran the course as a pilot of the New England Collaborative Data Management Curriculum. Jenny Muilenburg, Mahria Lebow and Joanne Rich worked together to offer the class, which was designed as a one-hour meeting with lecture and exercises, meeting once a week for seven weeks. Students were asked to register, but the classes were not required, and no credit was given. Each of the weeks touched on one concept from the NECDMC curriculum, with one change made mid-course that combined two concepts into one lecture. We took each lecture module from NECDMC and modified it to suit our personal and institutional preferences, as well as adding UW-specific information. One primary lecture room was used on the main campus, where we both recorded the lecture and streamed it to a second location in Health Sciences, where Joanne Rich facilitated the streamed lecture and ran the exercises off-air.

Each class consisted of about 30 minutes of lecture, and 30 minutes of exercise and discussion. Module topics included types, stages and formats of data; metadata; storage, backup and security; legal and ethical considerations; sharing and reuse; and archiving and preservation. Experts from on campus were asked to contribute opinions and UW-specific information, specifically on metadata, storage and security, and legal and ethical information. Overall class evaluations after each lecture were positive, with good feedback about what to include in future iterations of the class.

It was a great first foray into RDM curriculum for non-librarians, although attendance with attrition was not as good as we'd hoped. Our next move will be to take this experience and the curriculum, modify and shorten, and present it to subject-specific librarian groups on campus. I'd like to see one for STEM disciplines and the social sciences, and the health science librarians are working on one for their disciplines. More information will be forthcoming as we pull together what we've learned and where we'll go from here.

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