Third week

The Weather

It has been cold and rainy week. In the news, we saw that inland they got snow. For many Australians, it’s exotic. For us, it’s more exotic to have winter this warm. When it’s raining, it is nice to be in house and drink tea. This weekend the weather has been nice so we had a nice small trip to the Great Ocean Road. We can’t drive much because for us the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road. Driving takes much more energy than usually. So, we can make only short trips. We saw kangaroos and koalas during our trip this Saturday. So we’re very pleased of this small adventure we had.

This Sunday we visited Joy’s house and met her partner and their lovely cats! We’d a nice lunch at the local cafeteria and a nice tour to seeing a couple of impressive ocean scenes. When I asked my boys what was the best thing they remembered from this day, they said: “The cats!” They are both true cat lovers.

The Mentoring session

This Wednesday I arranged a “Reading contest” of the Barwon Health’s research articles for Joy and me. We had five articles/person, which we read through in 15 minutes (3 minutes/article). I did take time, so we’re quick. Afterwards we explained each other what we had found. Findings like, how data was collected and analyzed, how they reported results and other information about important research data management points like the ethical approval, who was responsible for the data, is data available in a data archive or elsewhere, etc.

I learned a lot from this task. The best of these articles where very transparent, they explained very clearly how the data collection and analysis was done, where are the week and strong points of the research and how reliable are the results. All articles were not as excellent. Sometimes I had a feeling that researchers need to hide something. Like articles where they wrote about data collection and analysis, but included no tables or diagrams, only text. It would be interesting to see their data.

By to way, those poor articles were not published in highly valuated journals. I’m not a big fan of the impact factors, but it is the fact that some journals are better than others journals, of course. Maybe those better ones get better editors and pear reviewers to urge researchers to write better publications?

Data have to be clear and well documented, if you want to publish in good journals. Maybe libraries can help researchers to get articles to better publications by helping them with research data management? This is maybe true especially in the clinical field, because physicians have so much else in their minds, they have patients to take care of and everything. I want to stress that there is nothing wrong in Barwon health’s research. They do an excellent job here. Only, it’s the same situation everywhere with research data management. There is much to work to do.

After our reading contest + findings, I asked Joy to write/draw a research data management life cycle of clinical research. Then we included related library services. We had a very nice discussion while drawing that. In picture 1, you can see our drawing. (If you find spelling mistakes, I wrote those words.)

Research data life cycle

Picture 1: The research data life cycle and library services.

We started interviews

On Thursday, we started our interview tour in hospital. Our first target person was a biostatistician, who has a nice grandstand view to the research data of the hospital. He helps the clinical researchers with their data, so much he can. He recommends them to use the Red Cap software ( It easy to use software to the end users. You can maintain a SQL database and document your data nicely with this tool. This biostatistician maintains the software in the hospital server. It’s protected well, so it’s suitable for highly sensitive data they often have in clinical research.

I much say that the interview gave me much to think about. I’m glad they have this Red Cap tool. I learned how to use the tool (only basics) on the MOOC I participated in a couple of years back. MOOC’s name is: Data Management for Clinical Research ( I hope we find a nice biostatistician or social scientist (this is useful to them as well) to build up this service also in the University of Helsinki. I have dreamed of that too long. (Yes, I have very odd dreams!)

The ANDS seminar

This Thursday was a very busy day. In the afternoon, we travelled by a local train to Melbourne to the ANDS seminar (the Australian National Data service) name “Hot Topics – What’s trending in RDM in VIC/TAS?”
(All the presentation will be published here:
RDM = Research data management

When people asked me, why they wanted me to help with RDM in Australia, I sometimes said: “Well, they are ahead of us in the RDM in Australia, you know (everybody knows that of course). They asked me, because all other Australian organizations have nice services already, so they need me to be as far it’s possible, so they’ll not get caught they needed help.” This answer was a joke, of course.

After the ANDS seminar, I know that there are many libraries in Australia still thinking what kind of role (if any) the library should take in RDM services. So, they are not very ahead of our European libraries after all..

The ANDS has done very nice work here for many year now. Here are many libraries which have had the RDM services long time now. They have collected a very nice table of these organizations and their toolkits on ANDS:

In the seminar, we’re thinking about skills you need if you work RDM services. We got the same outcome as always with this question. There are not such super human who have all skills needed. We need teams. We need to team up. Two people working in the team is better than two people working singly. And it so much more fun to work with other people. Isn’t it?

This reminds me the importance of networks. I’m writing this blog for my network of course. For the professional and the private network. There was quite many people who suggested that to me. It would be nice to know who are reading this. May I ask you to write your names and maybe you organization or how you know me to the comment field? (Click the link “Leave a reply“). It would also be a nice plus to my report on this trip.

uncork my Big Mac now. Thank you for reading!

Best regards,

12 thoughts on “Third week

  1. Thank you Mari Elisa, it’s really interesting to read about your thoughts and about your adventures there. Keep up the good spirit, and try to survive the Australian winter! 😉 From: Mari, an information specialist in the National Institute for Health and Welfare (Finland).

  2. Hi Mari Elisa, You’ve asked us to let you know if we are reading your blog – of course we know each other via EAHIL, so that’s our little network connection :). Many thanks for your blog posts – I’m really enjoying reading them. Also, I’m learning things and you give some useful links to explore. Thank you.

  3. G’day! I’m your husband 🙂 Great to see Oz with you! This post made me think about the impact good referees (and to a lesser extent editors) can make to a paper. While the stringency in the selection of papers probably is the most significant factor in the quality of the contents of a journal, the referees indeed can make a huge difference. In worst cases (unfortunately not that rare) the referee doesn’t even understand what the story is all about. In the best cases (to the joy of the authors, even in case of rejection) they provide constructive criticism that helps to improve the paper to a new level.

    And yes, many of us researchers could indeed use some help in getting our data management in order!

  4. Hi Mari Elisa,
    I love your blog, thanks for writing! Just waiting for you to come back with your new ideas – and we’ll see…

  5. Hi MEK, it’s interesting to read your blog! 🙂 Thank you. Have a nice time in Australia! Greetings from Ela

  6. Loving your blog. I have a similar role to Ann at Barwon but I am just up the road from you in Ballarat (Ballarat health Services). I think Ann shared this on Facebook which is how I know about your blog 🙂

  7. Hi Mari Elisa, it’s really great following your adventures & thoughts via your blog! This is already a rich pool of practical ideas and methods on How to improve RDM through libraries which others will find useful too – thanks so much for sharing. Greetings on behalf of the LIBER working group – one more component of your network, we very much look forward to you have you back 😉 – Cheers and enjoy your stay, Birgit

    • Thanks Birgit!
      Maybe we could start a secret society of European Data Queens? 🙂

  8. Finally found time to read about your interesting journey! The good thing is that now I can read all your posts in a row. Highly interesting and important things you have here and this also increases my desire to work abroad again 🙂

    And how I know you – we did not study at the same time at Information Studies in Oulu, but instead met first time at Informaatiotutkimuksen päivät (Days of Information Studies) in Tampere, in 2010. In fact, next month it will be 5 years anniversary of our friendship!

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