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Research data management competencies of researchers in selected public universities in South Africa

Mpilo Siphamandla Mthembu (Department of Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)
Dennis N. Ocholla (Department of Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa)

Library Management

ISSN: 0143-5124

Article publication date: 13 March 2024

Issue publication date: 16 April 2024

67

Abstract

Purpose

In today's global and competitive corporate environment characterised by rapidly changing information, knowledge and technology (IKT), researchers must be upskilled in all aspects of research data management (RDM). This study investigates a set of capabilities and competencies required by researchers at selected South African public universities, using the community capability model framework (CCMF) in conjunction with the digital curation centre (DCC) lifecycle model.

Design/methodology/approach

The post-positivist paradigm was used in the study, which used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Case studies, both qualitative and quantitative, were used as research methods. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic rules and regulations, semi-structured interviews with 23 study participants were conducted online via Microsoft Teams to collect qualitative data, and questionnaires were converted into Google Forms and emailed to 30 National Research Foundation (NRF)-rated researchers to collect quantitative data.

Findings

Participating institutions are still in the initial stages of providing RDM services. Most researchers are unaware of how long their institutions retain research data, and they store and backup their research data on personal computers, emails and external storage devices. Data management, research methodology, data curation, metadata skills and technical skills are critically important RDM competency requirements for both staff and researchers. Adequate infrastructure, as well as human resources and capital, are in short supply. There are no specific capacity-building programmes or strategies for developing RDM skills at the moment, and a lack of data curation skills is a major challenge in providing RDM.

Practical implications

The findings of the study can be applied widely in research, teaching and learning. Furthermore, the research could help shape RDM strategy and policy in South Africa and elsewhere.

Originality/value

The scope, subject matter and application of this study contribute to its originality and novelty.

Keywords

Citation

Mthembu, M.S. and Ocholla, D.N. (2024), "Research data management competencies of researchers in selected public universities in South Africa", Library Management, Vol. 45 No. 3/4, pp. 208-225. https://doi.org/10.1108/LM-03-2023-0022

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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