DMPTool and RDM consultants support humanities grant submission

The following is a guest post by Quinn Dombrowski of the UC Berkeley RDM Program. The original is available at http://researchdata.berkeley.edu/stories

sarcophagus photo

When preparing a proposal to a funding agency, researchers focus on the grant narrative, framing their work in the most innovative and compelling way possible. Crafting a narrative that can stand as a surrogate for a scholar’s research for reviewers to evaluate is itself a time-consuming process; for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Digital Humanities grants, it’s only one of nine components of the application. Grant proposals must include a data management plan, a document that Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies Rita Lucarelli had not encountered prior to preparing her grant submission last fall. “I found the instructions to be clear, but I hadn’t thought about those issues before,” Professor Lucarelli said in a recent Research Data Management (RDM) workshop on DMPTool for the humanities.

The short version of the NEH guidelines states:

Prepare a data management plan for your project (not to exceed two pages). The members of your project team should consult this document throughout the life of the project and beyond the grant period. The plan should describe how your project team will manage and disseminate data generated or collected by the project. For example, projects in this category may generate data such as software code, algorithms, digital tools, reports, articles, research notes, or websites.

In addition, proposals of the type Professor Lucarelli was submitting require a sustainability plan. Following the basic prompts provided by the NEH, Professor Lucarelli drafted a brief paragraph for the data management plan and the sustainability plan, and sent the materials to the RDM team for review.

Starting early proved to be key. By having a draft done two months in advance, Lucarelli was able to send her proposal to the NEH for feedback, where she learned that her proposal — to fund a workshop, and development of a portal that would bring together a number of Egyptology projects that are building 3D models — would be eligible for a “level 2” grant, but not a “level 3” grant as Professor Lucarelli originally drafted: “level 3” grants are intended for projects that already had a finished prototype. “It’s important to figure out what level grant you’re applying to early,” Lucarelli reflected. “Deciding on that sooner would have saved me from drafting the sustainability plan that wasn’t applicable to the grant I ended up applying for.”

Involving the RDM team in the process early also allowed Lucarelli to work with an RDM consultant to refine her data management plan. Rick Jaffe, an RDM consultant, met with Lucarelli and talked through the scope and nature of the project she was proposing. After their first meeting, Jaffe logged into DMPTool, the Data Management Planning tool developed and supported by the California Digital Library (CDL), which provides templates and additional guidance for preparing data management plans for most major funding agencies. He pulled up the template for the NEH, and began to organize and expand upon his notes from the meeting, using the headers and prompts suggested by the DMPTool. Jaffe used the DMPTool’s private sharing function to make the draft data management plan visible and editable by Lucarelli and her collaborator at the University of Memphis, Joshua Roberson.

Drafting a data management plan in the DMPTool interface is convenient because it juxtaposes the questions and guidance for each section with a text box where you can write your responses. At a certain point in the process, it may be easier to download your draft data management plan and move it into Microsoft Word for editing. While it may be tempting to answer each of the questions in the prompt at great length, the overall two-page limitation forces grant applicants to be brief and specific. Quinn Dombrowski, another RDM consultant, worked with Lucarelli on winnowing the six-page version drafted in DMPTool into the required two pages.

“Even if I don’t get this grant, it was hugely valuable to prepare a data management plan,” explained Lucarelli. “When you’re working a new project, you never think about things like what will happen if you’re not involved with the project anymore — it’s hard to even imagine that! But a data management plan makes you think through all the details about what data you’ll actually get in your project, how you’ll store it, and how you’ll manage it in the long term. I was lucky to be working with a collaborator who knew some of the technical details about how to store audio files, because I would have been at a loss, myself. And it was very helpful to be able to sit down with RDM consultants who can help you think through all the issues involved in running a project like this. I feel much better prepared now for the next time I put together a grant application, whether or not a data management plan is required.”

DMPTool adds 100th institution!

From Flickr by Anvica

From Flickr by Anvica

We are pleased to announce that as of September 23rd, with the addition of Baylor University100 institutions have taken the step of customizing the DMPTool to provide local guidance and resources for their researchers. Check out the full list of participating institutions.

While institutions do not have to customize the DMPTool for their researchers to take advantage of the tool, taking that step can provide many benefits to their researchers as well as their data management and stewardship programs. These include:

  • Integration with Shibboleth so that researchers can use their institutional credentials;
  • Ability to add help text and links to institutional resources;
  • Ability to add contact information for the units that support data management; and
  • Ability to add text that can be copied into a data management plan.

With the release of the new and improved DMPTool in early 2014, there will be even more functionality for those institutions who integrate with and customize the tool. These features include:

  • An interface to manage all of the customizations directly;
  • Improved institutional branding;
  • The ability to add institution specific data management requirements;
  • Reviews of DMPs on a case by case basis or as a required step for all researchers; and
  • Multiple roles for administrative users including as editors of requirements and reviewers of DMPs, so that you can have appropriate teams working on the DMPTool.

If you are interested in talking to us more about this process, please contact us. It is a straightforward process that we are happy to walk you through.

Library Outreach: Call for DMPTool Guides

Hello, everyone! My name is Dan Phipps. I’m coming to the DMPTool project from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. My academic focus has been on informatics, especially the preservation and curation of disaster data. Aside from digitizing maps for the UCLA Digital Libraries project, I’ve also worked at the UCLA Social Science Data Archive to help researchers better archive their data.

I’m working with California Digital Libraries as part of the IMLS funded Librarian Outreach project. Our focus is going to be specific to librarians and the role they play in the development of data management plans. While this is a relatively new hat for some librarians to wear, there is already a lot of resources from data archivists, repository institutions, grant departments and other librarians. We’re hoping to use the DMPTool as both a data management resource as well as a hub for information specialists to find useful materials.

The management of data is a major undertaking for any institution, and involves support everywhere from IT departments to individual researchers to granting offices and beyond. Librarians, by training, are uniquely suited to work within this environment – it is a field that has been focused on providing people with knowledge and support for centuries. Data management and preservation is a relatively new area of focus, but one which will be more and more important in the coming years.

One of the major goals of the Libraries Outreach project is to provide librarians with easy access to educational materials. Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting Libguides, wikis, webpages, and other useful online resources that have made using or teaching the DMPTool easier. If there are any references you find particularly useful, please email me your suggestions.

-Dan Phipps

Kickoff Meetings for Newly Funded DMPTool Projects

Berkeley

The meetings were held in Downtown Berkeley, near Durant Ave. This image of the area was taken in 1978. From Calisphere, contributed by Berkeley Public Library and Betty Marvin. Click for more information.

Two weeks ago, a meeting of the data management minds took place in Berkeley, California. There were two back-to-back meetings to kick off projects funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (read the blog post about it) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Here we provide a report of each meeting.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project: “DMPTool2: Responding to the Community”

The primary goal of this project is to improve on the DMPTool (free, easy-to-use application that guides researchers through the process of creating data management plans). To accomplish this, we aim to build on the success of the tool to create DMPTool2, and use this improved version as a centerpiece for encouraging collaboration in data management efforts across all stakeholder groups (researchers, institutions, funders, libraries).  In support of the project goals, we convened a meeting of DMPTool partners to synchronize the project kickoff efforts and revisit our planned activities.  The meeting aimed to review:

  • Current DMPTool status
  • Community engagement plans
  • Functional development plans
  • Metrics for impact and success

Meeting participants were mainly from founding DMPTool institutions.  Over the course of the 1.5 day meeting, participants reviewed the course of the DMPTool thus far, the expectations and plans for the project, and then specific activities for the next 12 or so months.  Some highlights include:

  • Observations that the DMPTool has had significant use, but should to put increased emphasis on gaining repeat users and providing more value to users.  Underlying this point, while the team aims to address user needs and demands, it is important to still stress that the goal should be making data management planning EASIER, rather than just EASY.  Research data lives in a complex environment and this must not be underestimated.
  • Community engagement in coming months will be on many fronts.  Some include development of two advisory boards, one focused on administrative users and one on researchers.  The team will also implement the planned governance structure to give the user community greater access to and participation in future directions and ownership of the DMPTool; this will be in the very near term.
  • Functionality for this project ranges far and wide, but fits into two main broad categories:  functions for the researcher (ie. Writing plans, finding resources, getting advice, etc.) and functions for the administrative user (ie. Reporting on institutional use, adding institutional guidance, etc.).  The team will offer blog posts on specific technical elements, request feedback, and conduct user testing as the project moves along.  Expect first posts in coming weeks.
  • The last discussion of the meeting was around metrics for impact and success, what’s possible, what’s easy versus hard, and what matters to our different constituents.  We have many ideas in this area, and will have blog posts to outline some of these points and request feedback in coming weeks.

IMLS Grant Project: “Improving Data Stewardship with the DMPTool: Empowering Libraries to Seize Data Management Education”

The meeting funded by the IMLS grant took place over February 21-22. The primary goal of this project is to provide librarians with the tools and resources to claim the data management education space. In an effort to ensure the tools and resources developed meet the needs of librarians, we convened a meeting of DMPTool partners, as well as librarians from five University of California campuses. We had three goals for the meeting:

  1. Identify the resources most useful for helping librarians use the DMPTool for outreach.
  2. Prioritize resources based on user profiles and use cases.
  3. Create timelines and brainstorm dissemination tactics for resources to be developed.

Participants were primarily librarians, along with members of the DMPTool partner institutions. Over the course of the two day meeting, we discussed the barriers and solutions associated with using the DMPTool as a librarian, especially for outreach. Common themes emerged related to a lack of support and education, as well as limited resources including time, money, personnel, and institution-level services.  Poor communication among institutional partners and stakeholders was also often mentioned. The solutions proposed to eliminate these barriers became the template for potential products from the IMLS grant. Here we present a list of proposed outcomes and tasks for the project, i.e. things that will help librarians use the DMPTool effectively on their campuses:

  1. Checklist/talking points documents & brown bag kit for librarians to talk to campus partners and stakeholders, including researchers, VCRs, Special Projects/Grants offices,  IT, and other librarians
  2. Slide deck for presenting to researchers
  3. Promotional materials (posters, pamphlets, bookmarks, postcards, flyers) that can be customized for the institution
  4. Startup Kit for undergoing an environmental scan of institutional resources and services
  5. DMPTool Webinar Series for librarians
  6. DMPTool Screencasts for users, librarians
  7. A collection of case studies of institutions using the DMPTool successfully
  8. A collection data management success and horror stories
  9. A calendar of funder deadlines
  10. DMPTool Libguide

A larger outcome of the IMLS grant will be that we plan to set up an online common space that allows for sharing customization of tool, provides a forum for user conversation streams, provides access to materials developed by the grant project, and can be used as a platform for collecting use cases, success and horror stories. The list above is only a subset of the long list of suggestions that emerged from our meeting. Stay tuned into this blog for more updates as the project progresses.

Download the full IMLS meeting report