University of Oxford
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Managing research data has become a major issue during the last decade and, over the last year, the Covid-19 pandemic has focused attention even further on the importance of research data and software. Research data is growing rapidly in volume and complexity and has become ever more critical to research across a wide range of disciplines.
We were asked by the University of Oxford to review its approach to research data management (which covers the ways in which researchers organise, structure, store and care for the information used or generated as they carry out their research). Research data management is a policy requirement of most major funders, and good data handling practices are essential for access to key datasets from partners in government, the NHS and industry.
Research within the university, like most others, operates at multiple levels, with researchers’ own efforts being supported at a local level by their departments/ institutes and divisions, libraries and research services. Our review linked into the University’s strategic plan to ensure that they make the best use of their research expertise and adhere to all best practice guidelines.
We delivered a consultation which heard from a broad range of stakeholders, using an online survey, interviews, focus groups, and workshops. In total 237 people from across the university contributed to this work.
As the review took shape, the breadth and depth of research data management activities carried out at the university became apparent. Through external benchmarking, we were able to assess the many strengths and examples of good practice, but also gaps which needed addressing. As a result, we put forward a roadmap with 42 action areas identified.
Research Consulting delivered a wide-ranging research data management review, engaging multiple university functions and our academic community. The consulting team worked closely with us to prioritise the objectives for this work, and combined a structured approach to project management with a flexible approach to delivery. I was impressed with their responsiveness to our needs and ability to stick to our timeline, and their work has laid a firm foundation for the strategic and operational development of research data management at the university.Patrick Grant, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University