Data Education: Outreach and Inreach at UM

by Natsuko Nicholls and Katherine Akers

In this blog post, the RDS team provides an update on how the University of Michigan (UM) Library has been developing and providing data education and training workshops for both librarians and researchers.

Data Management Workshop for Faculty

Most recently, a Data Management Plan (DMP) Information Session was held on January 23rd for College of Engineering faculty. Leena Lalwani, Paul Grochowski, and Sara Samuel (Engineering librarians) prepared and gave an hour-long presentation to discuss data management, present local DMP-related research, promote UM Library resources (e.g., LibGuide, RDS website), and receive faculty feedback. With 18 faculty members in attendance, the workshop began with a video featuring poor but still prevailing practices in data management and sharing. During the workshop, faculty asked several important questions, including:

  • What data storage options do we have at UM?
  • Because the cost of saving everything is high, what needs to be saved and for how long?
  • Could we receive more guidance on domain/subject-specific data repositories?.
  • When and why should we choose or avoid proprietary data formats?

Next week, Jake Glenn (Physics and Astronomy librarian) will offer a similar DMP information session for the Astronomy and Physics departments. Also, Engineering librarians are scheduled to offer another workshop for Engineering faculty and graduate students in late February. These are examples of how subject specialists continue to engage with the UM research community by extending their support for research and offering resources and consulting services in data management.

Data Education Workshop for Librarians

Internally, the library’s Data Education Working Group has been working toward providing data management training to librarians so that they will be better prepared to support researchers’ data management needs.

In the first phase of this training, Katherine Akers (e-science librarian and CLIR postdoctoral fellow), Justin Joque (Visualization librarian), Scott Martin (Biology librarian), and Fe Sferdean (CLIR postdoctoral fellow) held a series of workshops over the Fall and early Winter semesters addressing basic issues in research data management. The first workshop covered best practices in data organization and storage, and the second workshop covered emerging trends in data sharing and preservation as well as data management planning. In total, 63 librarians and staff members from across the library system attended one or both workshops. After obtaining feedback, we learned that librarians thought that the workshops were helpful, but most still felt only somewhat prepared to support researchers’ data management needs.

Therefore, the next step is to provide advanced training. Recognizing that the cultures and infrastructures for research data management and dissemination vary widely among disciplines, the plan is to hold workshops in which the research data management landscapes are explored in more depth, using sample subject areas within the STEM fields, social sciences, and arts and humanities. After librarians work together to answer questions (e.g., What are the major journals’ data sharing policies? What disciplinary data repositories exist? What are some specific concerns that researchers might have in regard to data sharing?) through the lens of particular disciplines, librarians will be encouraged to explore their own area(s) of disciplinary expertise and to identify ways in which they can extend their current modes of research support to encompass the management, sharing, and preservation of research data.

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One Response to Data Education: Outreach and Inreach at UM

  1. Pingback: Deep Dive into Data | Data@MLibrary

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