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A conceptual virtual research environment model for the management of research data, a South African perspective

Johann Van Wyk (Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Theo Bothma (Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Marlene Holmner (Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 2 July 2020

Issue publication date: 10 August 2020

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204

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this article is to give an overview of the development of a Virtual Research Environment (VRE) conceptual model for the management of research data at a South African university.

Design/methodology/approach

The research design of this article consists of empirical and non-empirical research. The non-empirical part consists of a critical literature review to synthesise the strengths, weaknesses (limitations) and omissions of identified VRE models as found in literature to develop a conceptual VRE model. As part of the critical literature review concepts were clarified and possible applications of VREs in research lifecycles and research data lifecycles were explored. The empirical part focused on the practical application of this model. This part of the article follows an interpretivist paradigm, and a qualitative research approach, using case studies as inquiry method. Case studies with a positivist perspective were selected through purposive sampling, and inferences were drawn from the sample to design and test a conceptual VRE model, and to investigate the management of research data through a VRE. Investigation was done through a process of participatory action research (PAR) and included semi-structured interviews and participant observation data collection techniques. Evaluation of findings was done through formative and summative evaluation.

Findings

The article presents a VRE conceptual model, with identified generic component layers and components that could potentially be applied and used in different research settings/disciplines. The article also reveals the role that VREs play in the successful management of research data throughout the research lifecycle. Guidelines for setting up a conceptual VRE model are offered.

Practical implications

This article assisted in clarifying and validating the various components of a conceptual VRE model that could be used in different research settings and disciplines for research data management.

Originality/value

This article confirms/validates generic layers and components that would be needed in a VRE by synthesising these in a conceptual model in the context of a research lifecycle and presents guidelines for setting up a conceptual VRE model.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the National Research Foundation for partial funding that led to the completion of this study.

Citation

Van Wyk, J., Bothma, T. and Holmner, M. (2020), "A conceptual virtual research environment model for the management of research data, a South African perspective", Library Management, Vol. 41 No. 6/7, pp. 417-446. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-02-2020-0037

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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