By Winny Nekesa Akullo and Dr. Robert Buwule | September 14, 2023
The International Association of Social Science Information Service and Technology (IASSIST) sponsored a one-day Research Data Management workshop at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). The theme of the workshop was “Research Data Management for promotion of scholarship among academic staff”.
The workshop took place on 17th August 2023, at the Pharmbiotrack Board room, Faculty of Applied Science and Technology building. Prof San Cannon the IASSIST President Emeritus and Prof. Constant Okello Obura the Chair of IASSIST Africa chapter gave opening remarks.
The workshop was officially opened by Asst. Prof Charles Tushabomwe Kazooba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor - Finance and Administration. It was attended by eminent researchers from MUST. Each of the six Faculties at MUST nominated three academic staff. The University library as a key stakeholder in Research data management also nominated four library staff to attend. Amazingly a number of interested parties joined online from around Africa. One academic staff from the statistics department at Kampala International University, got excited about the workshop and had to travel all the way from Bushenyi to attend.
The first speaker was Dr. Simon Smith from the University of Edinburgh. Simon has been working in the University’s Research Data Service since 2022 and he is deeply passionate about training, outreach and awareness of Research Data Management (RDM) practice and policy. He spoke so well about the Essentials of RDM and enlightened the workshop participants about; the principles and drivers of RDM, the benefits of having the right RDM practices in an institution, the need for RDM plans, how to handle sensitive research data, the ethics of RDM, legal obligations, storage of research data, backing up of research data. The participants were enthused about all this and actively engaged in the discussion on issues of verifying research data, reproducing and reusing research data. They also discussed deeper on the FAIR principles in RDM.
The second speaker was Mr. Olatunbosun Obileye who is the regional Engagement Specialist for DataCite in Africa. He talked about his research data management experience while working with DataCite and other institutions he had earlier worked with like IITA. He spoke about the need to have a purpose for collecting research data, stipulating the research data formats, the size of the research data, allocation of the required resources, budgeting, and data security. He also stressed the need for a researcher to have a right relationship with his or her research data in order to have the expected research product at the end of the research cycle. He later shared with the participants the Global access fund which will soon be launched by DataCite.
The Global access fund will enable Universities like MUST to make their research outputs discoverable. Through this fund, institutions from the developing countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia can apply for financial support for outreach activities and infrastructure development.
In the afternoon, there was a plenary moderated by Dr. Robert Stalone Buwule, the University Librarian of Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Ms. Winny Nekesa Akullo the Secretary of IASSIST Africa Chapter. In this last session the participants brainstormed on the way forward and how they can apply the newly acquired skills in research data management. The dialogue focused on the RDM skills that can be shared with other academics and graduate students with a view of promoting scholarship. Below were some of the key resolutions the participants came up with.
- Set up a MUST institutional team of RDM champions.
- Initiate the process of developing a MUST RDM policy framework.
- Work with IASSIST Africa to apply for Global Access Funding for establishing the required infrastructure of setting up a MUST Research data repository.
- Active researchers to explore how to archive their research data with Github and other RDM repositories.
- IASSIST Africa Chapter liaises with IASSIST for more capacity in RDM.
Finally, Ass. Prof. Vincent Batwala, the Director of the Directorate of Research and Graduate Training (DRGT) of MUST took the stage.
He shared some remarks on managing research data among the MUST graduate students. He also officiated the awarding of certificates to the workshop participants and later officially closed the workshop.