NWU Library Staff attend a Research Data Management Short Course

A Research Data Management (RDM) Short Course was held at the University of Cape Town from the 30th of March 2016 to the 1st of April 2016. Mr Louw Venter and Ms Zine Sapula from Potchefstroom Campus together with Mr Sabelo Chizwina from the Mafikeng Campus were   the NWU participants. The short course was attended by 15 participants from various universities such as the University of the Free State and Vaal University of Technology together with participants from Research Organisations such as the CSIR. It was facilitated by Ms Michelle Kahn a lecturer in the Library and Information Studies Centre at the University of Cape Town.

The focus of the short course was to introduce both the theoretical and practical aspects of RDM. The major topics that were covered in this workshop included the importance of RDM activities, RDM Policies, Data Curation Profiles, Infrastructure, RDM Plans, benefits of Data sharing and Data Citation and Use.

RDM is a new service which forms part of NWU eResearch drive. Academic libraries will play a significant role in supporting RDM activities. However, this initiative requires a collaborative approach from all relevant departments who work with researchers such as IT, Research Office, University Library. Discussions should begin on how to provide data management services to the University researchers. There is a need to identify in these discussions  the key processes in RDM activities and in the data lifecycle so that it appropriate roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.


The short course emphasised that the first step should be to develop an RDM policy at respective institutions. The policy will support, protect and commit researchers to data management and data sharing. Some funders already require researchers to submit an RDM plan together with their proposals. With regards to public funded research, there is an obligation for the data and other outputs to be made publicly available. An example of this is the NRF Open Access statement which mandates researchers to deposit data supporting publications in accredited Open Access repositories such as Boloka with the provision of Digital Object Identifier and metadata for future citation and referencing. Researchers have been involved in managing their own data in for example hard drives but managing it for public reuse   new to many researchers. To do this efficiently, researchers will need proper guidance from the Institutional RDM team (IT, Research Office, University Library and selected researchers).

Furthermore, researchers will require guidance on how to apply metadata techniques and populate RDM plans. Researchers will also need to be informed about intellectual property rights and licensing that applies to any original creative content published on the web as well as  assistance with the provision of DOI’s to all datasets and data citation. Academic libraries have been performing these tasks, such creating metadata, developing Institutional repositories, training and providing access to institution’s research output.  Librarians will need to use their knowledge and skills to support researchers in RDM.

Article compiled by Sabelo Chizwina, Zine Sapula and Louw Venter


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