Where is the help and support for research data management?

The digital environment requires new skills from researchers. For example, a researcher has to understand the complexities of the relevant legislation, or know how to choose suitable IT solutions to keep their data secure. Fortunately, researchers are not left to navigate these issues alone, as we have several services available for data management.

(Tämä artikkeli on saatavilla myös suomeksi.)

Text: Tuija Korhonen, Tanja Lindholm & Liisa Siipilehto

When the planning of the data management support services at the University of Helsinki was started, it became clear that a single unit could not be responsible for all the support and training services required. However, it was important that all the data management services would be available for researchers in a ”one-stop shop”. Therefore, the University of Helsinki Data Support (datasupport@helsinki.fi) was created according to this principle.

Data Support helps researchers with issues related to data management and provides the necessary tools, services, and training.

The Data Support at the University of Helsinki is a network of experts from the Helsinki University Library, IT Support, Central Archives, Research Services, Personnel Services, and Legal Services. Data Support helps researchers with issues related to data management and provides the necessary tools, services, and training – topics that are covered include data use, data sharing, and the findability of data. This blog post summarizes the services provided by Data Support.

Courses in data management

Data management skills are an important capital for researchers and you can improve these skills by attending research data management (RDM) courses. It is best to start with the RDM Basics course if you are not already familiar with data management. In spring 2021, Data Support is piloting an RDM Advanced course that will go deeper into data management issues and connect more with your own research practice.

At the data management planning (DMP) workshops, you can write your data management plan in collaboration with other researchers. You need to have a basic understanding of data management concepts before you attend these DMP workshops.

On request, Data Support also tailors courses in data management for different research groups. In addition, the research lawyers at the University of Helsinki provide training sessions on data protection and contracts.

DMPTuuli tool guides the researchers

Different data management tools have been developed to help researchers write their data management plans. In Finland, we have the DMPTuuli tool, which uses detailed guidance to help researchers. DMPTuuli includes templates with the data management plan requirements from different funders, as well as guidance for writing a data management plan from different organisations.

DMP review service

Data Support reviews data management plans on request. It is a good idea to contact Data Support early on if the data management plan required by the funder is giving you gray hairs or you want to check that your data management plan has taken everything into consideration.

Generally, researchers send us review requests for data management plans that are required by the different funders as part of the funding application. In 2021, all projects funded by the Academy of Finland will need to have their data management plans checked by Data Support and approved by a dean in charge of research affairs in their faculty (see Academy of Finland’s DMP guidelines). The researcher must complete these steps before they receive their funding. A data management plan is also required for all EU funded projects, and it must be updated throughout the project.

Consulting service

Support is available to research infrastructures and faculties developing their data management policies – just contact Data Support. A data management plan can coordinate processes in a similar way to a quality manual, as well as help integrate PhD students into the research group. This type of plan is still relatively uncommon, or at least they haven’t been shown to the team at Data Support.

A one-stop-shop service for researchers

The services available from Data Support help researchers with all their data management related issues. For example, Data Services can provide information on the University of Helsinki’s storage solutions for the various kinds of data or help with finding locations to open data. The questions sent to Data Support are also used to improve the data services by identifying the service gaps. The launch of REDCap is an example of this development. REDCap is a new tool for creating surveys and it is particularly applicable for managing sensitive data. Researchers can have an impact on the development of services at the university by contacting Data Support.

Guides and websites

Several self-study guides on data management are available on our webpages and these are updated regularly. All of our course material is also freely available on our wiki pages. Check these out:

Additional guidance on data protection and contracts is available on the university intranet, Flamma.

   Research Data Management – know your data!

Research data management (RDM) is a crucial part of any research. First and foremost, the aim of RDM is to make the research process as efficient as possible. Second, RDM will help you meet the expectations and requirements of your organisation and research funders. RDM skills are fundamental skills for researchers and they apply to everyone who handles data for research projects. By learning RDM, you get to KNOW YOUR DATA!

In this series, the University of Helsinki Data Support team introduces the key components of RDM and data management planning (DMP): what they are, why they are important, and where to look for more help with RDMP (research data management planning) issues. The series comprises six parts:

1) What is research data management (RDM)? (3.9.2020)
2) The components of research data management (17.9.2020)
3) Why research data management? (30.9.2020)
4) Why plan research data management in advance? (22.10.2020)
5) Effective research data management? – DMP to the rescue! (19.11.2020)
6) Where is the help and support for research data management? (8.12.2020)