I attended the first Research Data Alliance workshop held in sunny Birmingham which was designed to bring together practitioners from across the UK to find out more about the work of the RDA. It was also a chance to see how we might be able to contribute and benefit from what the organisation has to offer. Despite already being a member of the RDA Interest Groups for Archives and Records Professionals, I confess to having been more of a casual observer than an active participant. So it was a brilliant opportunity to find out more about exactly what the Research Data Alliance is, how it works and what it hopes to achieve.
It would seem it never rains but it pours with conferences and hot on the heels of iPres 2016 in Bern which I blogged about earlier came DCDC16: Discovering Collections: Discovering Communities which is organised jointly by the UK National Archives and Research Libraries UK. The theme this year was “From potential to impact” and certainly through the conference we heard quite a lot about academic impact especially in the context of the Research Excellence Framework.
I was delighted recently to welcome colleagues from across the UK to Lancaster University for an Archivematica UK User group meeting. It was the hottest day of September here in Lancaster and while the campus did look lovely I did recommend our wonderful campus ice cream shop* to help cool down.
Archivematica UK User Group is an informal group made up of people considering, testing or using Archivematica, a digital preservation system. Those who attended are at all different stages of development and have a wide range of collections that they manage. What unites us all is a desire to tackle digital preservation as best they can with the resources they have available and to share experiences with others in the digital preservation community.
What Archivematica is: an open-source digital preservation system.
What Archivematica is not: a magic bullet that will solve all your digital preservation needs.
We have been doing some thinking around how to improve the research data management services we offer here at Lancaster. We’re keen to move away from the idea of the role of research data management as purely for compliance purposes – we want to really push the idea of open data and data reuse and develop the idea that the research data produced by the university are valuable assets. We know that researchers at the university are working on interesting, valuable and important work. Look at Derek Gatherer’s work on the Zika virus or Maggie Mort’s project looking at disaster planning and children and a host of other more specialized datasets supporting research right across the sciences and the humanities. Each dataset will have its own context, background and requirements for it to be properly interpreted and understood.