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Engaging Researchers with Data Management

Connie Clare
Maria Cruz
Elli Papadopoulou
et al.

II. Methodology

Texte intégral

1The aim of the project ‘Research Engagement with Data Management’ was to collect case studies from different organisations around the globe that focus on how to engage with the research community about research data management. By asking various questions about the models used and also about the organisational context, we created a useful resource for organisations that are looking to increase their engagement with their research communities.

  • 1 Iza Witkowska, ‘The Survey Researcher Engagement with Data Management: What Works?’ (22 July 2019), (...)

2In order to achieve this, we first designed and sent out a survey ‘Researcher Engagement with Data Management: What Works?‘ to 60 funders, 80 scientific institutions, and 28 relevant mailing lists worldwide, as well as social media channels including blogs and Twitter. The survey was open from 18 January until 14 February 2019, and is available through Zenodo.1

  • 2 Ibid.

3Respondents were asked to think about which of their methods of researcher engagement would be of interest to other organisations. Each respondent was encouraged to mention as many initiatives used to engage researchers as they thought relevant, and to fill in the survey separately for each initiative. In addition, they were asked to characterise their research institution (number of researchers, number of PhD students, number of full-time employees providing data management support), as well as their engagement activity (target group, main drivers, activity cost, ease of implementation at a different institution) by responding to quantitative questions (see the survey template2 for the details of questions and possible answers). For example, to estimate the cost of running the activity, respondents were asked to select one of five ranked options, ranging from ‘inexpensive’ to ‘expensive’. Respondents were not asked to elaborate on their choices, or justify them.

4We received 234 responses. Of these, 90 were complete and provided details describing the engagement activities, such as the activity objective, description, challenges and opportunities associated with the activity, etc. Responses that provided enough information to understand the activity were considered as valid responses and used for further selection of the most innovative activities.

5The final selection of case studies was done by five volunteers. Each volunteer was asked to select 20 to 25 cases, which, based on their RDM knowledge and experience, looked innovative, inspiring and applicable to research institutions worldwide. There were no other criteria used for the selection process. To make sure that important engagement activities were not omitted from this study, the volunteers were also asked to suggest other innovative activities that they were aware of, but which were not submitted through the survey.

6All cases selected by volunteers were used for the final selection. This selection was made based on the overlap between these five different lists. If a case study was listed on three or more of the five lists, it made it to the final list. In this way, 24 cases made it to this final list. Out of these, 17 were activities submitted via the survey and 7 were new activities. The list was discussed and approved, first by the five volunteers and afterwards by the entire project group.

7Inthenextstage, weundertookhour-longinterviewswith‘respondents’ of all shortlisted cases in order to collect missing information, quotes and photos. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and shared with the writing team.

8To write the book, we organized a three-day ‘book sprint’ in The Hague, Netherlands. Six writers and two editors (one on-site and one working remotely), took part in the book sprint. Cases were grouped into eight themes, based on the main focus of the activity: policy, data management plans, training, events, community networks, dedicated consultants, interviews and data from senior researchers. All cases were divided between the writers, written up using the collected information, and then reviewed and edited with the help of the writers. By the end of the three days the first draft of the book was finished. After the book sprint, the editing work continued, and final versions of each case study were sent to respondents for their approval during the following week. Subsequently, the book was publicly shared for consultation, and editing continued on an ongoing basis in response to community feedback.3

Table I. Graphical representation of the key ingredients of each case study,

CC BY 4.0.


1 Iza Witkowska, ‘The Survey Researcher Engagement with Data Management: What Works?’ (22 July 2019), Zenodo,

2 Ibid.

3 Draft book with full version and comment history available online:

Table des illustrations

Légende Table I. Graphical representation of the key ingredients of each case study,
Crédits CC BY 4.0.
Fichier image/jpeg, 324k


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