During two weeks in September, data managers Samuel Abera and Yabebal Ayelew of Ethiopian EfD center ECRC, were trained in Gothenburg, Sweden. The project is a collaboration between SND, Swedish National Data Service, and EfD and aims to make all research data from the network available worldwide."Researchers won´t live forever, but their data will" explains Yabebal Ayalew.
The training has covered topics such as the deposition and management of research data, and the legal considerations relating to different types of research material, such as sensitive personal data. Yabebal Ayalew and Samuel Abera were appreciative of the mix of theory, discussion and practical exercises.
Open data is a hot issue
Making research data openly available has become an increasingly hot issue. This spring for example, the European Commission took further action on how research data should be made open and many academic journals now require open data sets.
We live in an information society, Yabebal Ayalew points out. “But without data there is no information. Research organizations produce very much knowledge, but in order for it to be useful, it must be sustained and searchable. SND has a simple structure to do this and we are very pleased to be able to pass it on.”
Training an important milestone
“This data management initiative is a very important milestone for EfD in making research data accessible. We have learnt a lot this far, but we haven’t had this kind of training before. The experience-sharing with our colleagues at SND is also very important,” says Samuel.
Marleen Poot, EfD Research officer, outlines EfD’s focus on data management during 2018. The project includes several stages, including the creation of a Research Support Unit at the centre in Ethiopia along the lines of SND’s DAU-model (Data Access Unit). When established the unit will provide advice and support in data management to all of the EfD centres around the globe.
“The project has a couple of angles. We want to make good research data available for researchers everywhere. Good data management increases the quality and transparency of research. Our donors are public institutions, and by making research data more available, we use their money in the best way possible,” says Marleen.
“SND is run by a consortium consisting of seven universities in Sweden, with University of Gothenburg as host university”, explains Iris Alfredsson, Senior Advisor at SND. Our task is to support researchers in making their data available and for this purpose EfD has served as a pre-pilot. Getting started with colleagues in other parts of the world is of course extremely valuable.“
Obligatory data management plan
During this training, Samuel and Yabebal have put data management theory into practice with the first EfD dataset. They will also continue to work on policies, routines and tools to ensure effective collaboration between researchers and data managers. As of 2018, applications for research funding sent to EfD must include a data management plan. Marleen, Samuel and Yabebal hope this will help to make data documentation, management and sharing second nature for all of EfD’s researchers.
“In the beginning, it is important that we follow and provide support throughout the process. We want to make a difference, we want to contribute in making good research data available for all,” concludes Samuel.