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Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy | Featuring IASSISTers!

Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy
An OCLC Research Report by: Ricky Erway, OCLC Research

Key highlights:

  • The benefits of funder-required data management planning should apply to all research data 
  • Research and Compliance Offices, IT, Academic units, the Library, and Researchers should be involved in setting policy
  • An entrepreneurial person may need to get things going—why not the library director?

Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy is a call for action that summarizes the benefits of systemic data management planning and identifies the stakeholders and their concerns. It also suggests that the library proactively initiate a conversation among these stakeholders to get buy-in for a high-level, responsible data planning and management policy that is proactive, rather than reactive, and is also supported and sustainable.

The Stakeholders identified in the report include:

  • The University
  • The Office of Research
  • The Research Compliance Office
  • The Information Technology Department
  • The Researchers
  • The Academic Units
  • The Library

The intended audience for this call for action is library directors, not because they alone can make this happen, but to encourage them to initiate the conversation. The bulk of the document advocates for the library director to initiate a conversation among the stakeholders and addresses the various topics that should be discussed. A checklist of issues is also provided to help the discussion result in a supportable and sustainable policy.

Suggested elements of the conversation include:

  • Who owns the data?
  • What Requirements are Imposed By Others?
  • Which Data Should Be Retained?
  • For How Long Should Data Be Maintained?
  • How Should Digital Data Be Preserved?
  • Are there Ethical Considerations?
  • How are Data Accessed?
  • How Open Should the Data Be?
  • How Will Costs Be Managed?
  • What are the Alternatives to Local Data Management?

Library directors are invested not only because their libraries may be recipients of data in need of curation and of requests for guidance, but more importantly because library staff have significant skills and experience to contribute to the discussion. This is an opportunity for the library director to play an entrepreneurial role in furthering the mission of the larger enterprise.

This report was made possible by the contributions and support of the following members of the OCLC Research Library Partnership Data Curation Policy Working Group whose broad range of experience and perspectives was invaluable:

  • Dan Tsang, chair — University of California, Irvine
  • Anna Clements — University of St. Andrews
  • Joy Davidson — DCC, University of Glasgow
  • Mike Furlough — Pennsylvania State University
  • Amy Nurnberger — Columbia University
  • Sally Rumsey — University of Oxford
  • Anna Shadbolt — University of Melbourne
  • Claire Stewart — Northwestern University
  • Beth Warner — Ohio State University
  • Perry Willett — California Digital Library

This work is an output of our Role of Libraries in Data Curation activity, which falls under our work agenda theme of Advancing the Research Mission.

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