As its Open Access Week and yesterday was #ThesisThursday we thought we would write a blog post about how we support our PhD students in Research Data Management (RDM) at Imperial.
Good RDM is important for all researchers, whatever stage they are at in their careers. In particular, we recognise that for PhD students, understanding the benefits of RDM and Open Science can help them with their studies and also set them up for success in their future careers.
PhD students carrying out research at Imperial are required to deposit a copy of their final thesis in Spiral, the College’s institutional repository. They are also often required by funding bodies to produce a Data Management Plan for their project, to archive the research data underpinning their thesis, and to make this data publicly available where possible.
To support them with these requirements we’ve developed a number of initiatives.
What we offer
Once a term the RDM team hosts a ‘Managing Your Data’ session for PhD students, organised through the Graduate School Professional Development Programme. This tailored course familiarises PhD students with the Imperial College Research Data Lifecycle and explains how they can plan, store, archive and publish their research data as well as pointing them to the support available within the College. The session combines presentations with hands on exercises and activities that engage the students and encourage them to think about their particular RDM needs. Running since 2016, this course has already been delivered to over 200 PhD students.
In conjunction with this the RDM team also host a termly ‘How to write a Data Management Plan’ webinar which all Imperial PhD students can attend. This hour long tutorial introduces students to Data Management Plans, explains the key pieces of information contained within them, and how a plan may evolve over the course of a research project. This helps students to consider their own research data and the specific data management requirements of their projects in particular.
Finally, the RDM team attempt to attend as many wider PhD library inductions as possible to introduce themselves and outline the RDM service to the students. These brief introductions are a key activity as they make visible the support available to PhD students, which otherwise may be overlooked. The offer of project specific and one-to-one support is emphasised, as are the benefits of good data management and open science. These drop in presentations are often delivered in conjunction with the Open Access team in order to promote RDM’s relevance to the wider Open Research movement.
Rather than waving the stick of compliance, the aim of all of these initiatives is to highlight the benefits of RDM to individual PhD researchers and the wider academic community. They form part of a broader objective to foster a positive culture of responsible and open science within Imperial’s research community.
If you are an Imperial PhD researcher and would like help with managing your research data then you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out our Research Data Management Guide, or visit our webpages here.