This will be the last blog for the DICE project and is where you can download the Final Report. It is also the opportunity to reflect on the success (or otherwise) of the project.
JISC funded 4 projects on the theme of Preserving Research Data. At first sight this may seem like unnecessary duplication but each was different in approach and target group. A meeting of the projects showed that several of us had sufficient in common to justify some collaboration. The results of this improved the quality and reduced the cost of the work undertaken. It allowed us to work outside the confines of our own institution and benefit from the experience of others. This was an unplanned but very positive outcome.
We wanted to make sure that we weren’t going to be re-inventing the wheel with the project so our methodology reviewed the current state of research data preservation, at least in the English-speaking world (which, to my shame, is the only one I inhabit), then we set about finding out how advanced our researchers were, and hence what their training requirements would be. This was a fascinating experience for me as an incomer (not having worked at LSE before) to see the similarities and differences to other universities I’ve worked in. LSE is certainly focused on the intellectual endeavour of a research-led institution. There is a range of attitudes and approaches but everyone I have had contact with was striving for the best quality attainable. LSE is to be commended for this culture, which I’m sure is at the heart of its success.
The work that we conducted means that we now know more about the research community at LSE and its needs. Comparing our findings with those from the other projects suggested that we all had enough in common for the learning materials we developed to be of use, with intelligent adaptation, at other universities that conduct research, though you will probably find that the DICE approach is best suited to the social sciences and humanities. If you do adapt the material, please contribute it back to the community. Although it is a condition of the CC-BY-SA licence, we hope you would do it anyway in the spirit of building on the work that has gone before.
What would we have done differently if we were doing it again? We would have liked to have had better validation of the training materials we developed. We had one iteration with staff and students but the timing of the project meant that this had to happen in May/June, which is towards the end of the academic year and before the time when new researchers start. It would have been good to test the material with a new cohort of PhD students and hence refine the material more thoroughly. So, in an ideal world, we would re-schedule the project so that testing could be conducted in October/November.
My thanks go to Ed Fay and the Digital Library team for welcoming me for the short period of my stay at LSE and for the trust they put in me to complete the project. Thanks also to Jane and Maria, Nicola and Sue for all their help and support.
[posted by MR]