Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The effects of a digital data deluge are being felt across research institutions, not least in university libraries where management structures are changing to address new areas of service provision. In particular, research data offer new challenges for universities as they grapple with government-led pressure and compliance issues to maintain and enhance their research funding. Research comes in all shapes and sizes, from the lone PhD researcher producing a thesis in the digital humanities, to the global collaborations in physics leading to papers with hundreds of co-authors. Can the digital data they create be stored, found and re-used or repurposed?
As the preface to this book makes clear this book has a dual purpose: raising awareness of the need for research data management (RDM) and explaining the how RDM services may be delivered. It fulfils these admirably and will be required reading for anyone contemplating or involved in RDM. This could be library, IT or research office personnel. Policymakers in universities and research institutes will also find the book instructive.
The book is well structured and can be considered as having three segments. Introductory chapters by Graham Pryor outlining reasons for taking up the data challenge, approaches to RDM and crucially Who’s doing data – recognising the need for collaboration across library, IT, research offices and the researchers themselves. As a research support manager getting grips with the provision of data management services, I have found the middle third of the book which answers the How? question particularly noteworthy. In this segment, Angus Whyte’s chapter describes the phases required to develop and establish an RDM service and is followed by a chapter by Sarah Jones covering the components of RDM infrastructure and services. It is reassuring to see Jones draw attention to processes for data selection and handover, so that data with long term value are identified for curation. Her sections on developing policy and strategy are valuable too. The final third of the book is devoted to five fascinating case studies from leading universities (John Hopkins, Southampton, Monash), the UK Data Service and projects from the Jisc Managing Research Data programmes.
The authors and case studies are well chosen – it is particularly good to see Monash University as one case study, as it is the lead institution in the Australian National Data Service (ANDS), a key resource and source of inspiration for RDM in the southern hemisphere. The work is timely and unsurprisingly, readers will find it a more mature text than Pryor’s 2012 Managing Research Data text with case studies providing greater inspiration. This book is written in an accessible style with chapters meshing neatly together. I fear my review copy will suffer from overuse – I will be consulting it regularly, as I engage with research committee, Library, Research Office and IT managers in the creation of a data management policy in the coming months. Indeed, I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in research data management.