Training researchers how to manage data to produce better results, enable reuse, and provide for long-term access
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The existing academic research workforce is ill equipped to manage research data using increasingly complex computing technologies available to them. Despite the availability of ever more powerful desktops, mobile technologies, and high performance cloud computing and storage, universities are failing to provide graduate students with adequate data management skills for research in academia or industry. The challenge for mid- and late-career faculty is even greater, given that it is much more difficult to change established research practices in the midst of ongoing projects. This skills gap puts at risk billions of research dollars, the integrity of vast quantities of research data, and the quality of life for millions of people.
Providing faculty and students with the skills they need to collect, manage, and share their data effectively is a challenge many academic libraries are taking on. Though libraries may provide some technological solutions, our most valuable contributions lay in expertise and trust. We have the resources to fill this skills gap using our information management expertise, teaching skills, knowledge of the scholarly ecosystem, ability to facilitate conversation across departmental and disciplinary boundaries, and a uniquely holistic understanding of the scholarly record. At IUPUI, data management training is the foundation of our data services. This perspective is informed by the recognition that many graduate programs are not sufficiently preparing students to manage research data in this digital age. Before we can expect academic researchers to share, preserve, and curate their data, they must understand the value and importance of data management.
This chapter will describe our initial foray into data management training, the lessons learned, and the next phase of our educational efforts. In developing the program, we drew upon best practices in instructional design and information literacy, literature on the lab experience in science, and data management expertise from various research communities. Focusing on teaching practical techniques for responsible data management, we use the data management plan as a tool for teaching as well as for research. The initial training offered at IUPUI has reached a diverse audience, many of whom were not identified as stakeholders when developing the curriculum. Development of the lab, assessment results, and modifications made to subsequent iterations will be described as a working example of an evolving data literacy program.