Team Research and the Research Data Lifecycle

Last Friday as part of International Research Administrators Day I attended an event that brought together staff supporting research across the university. It was great to catch up with staff from across the university and some really good outcomes came out of the event.

courtesy of NCURA
Research Administrator Day card courtesy of NCURA

As part of an information sharing session, I gave the following slightly tongue-in-cheek presentation on the contribution of Academic Services and the Library to the research enterprise.

Academic Services and the Research Lifecycle

At the University Library we have been using the research lifecycle as the basis for promoting our services to researchers. I think the analogy is a good one as research projects really do have a natural lifecycle: projects are conceived, they are born, they develop and mature and eventually they die. But depending on their success they can give birth to further research (or they might be an evolutionary dead-end – in this environment only the best ideas survive).

Today I am going to use the research lifecycle to talk about the value Academic Services and the Library adds to the research enterprise. In doing so I want to see just how far I can push this analogy.

Ideas and Opportunities

This is where ideas are conceived and partnerships formed. In this area, the library offers what could best be described as pre-natal classes for researchers where we advise on how to seek out information and keep up with the latest topics and how to go about finding potential partners or collaborators.

Getting the Grant

As we know research can cost money and so the researcher will often need a research grant (which is kind of like a baby bonus). The library can help with many aspects of grant applications including measures of potential impact and data management planning.

Managing Information

Studies have shown that the more books you have in your house, the better your children perform, and it appears that researchers are no different. Researchers accumulate lots of reading material and the library helps them with tools to manage references and avoid information overload. The University collections (both print and digital) are a terrific source of material for research projects. Research data can get out of hand without proper management and we support researchers in this – especially in the light of funder requirements around data management.

Publishing and Sharing

As with your baby photos, you shouldn’t publish your research just anywhere. The library can advise on reputable journals and how to avoid predatory publishers. We also assist with open access publishing through the University’s Institutional Repository.

Measuring Impact

We often want to measure how researchers are performing against their peers. Just like a school report or a NAPLAN result, the library can help by checking citations and other impact measures and can help the researcher build an online research profile.

Preserving and Archiving

The last part of the cycle is a bit like creating a will. The Library can help researchers find a final resting place for their research outputs and data. And if researchers have neglected to organize their affairs properly, we even have a data forensics unit that can retrieve data from their old hard drives and floppy disks.

Research data is a valuable asset for the University. Properly preserving and archiving research data means that it can be discovered by future researchers, which allows it to be re-born as a new research project and the whole lifecycle can begin again.