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Research data management: principles, practices, and prospects

17 Nov 2013
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The challenge of ensuring long-term preservation of and access to the outputs of scientific research, especially data sets produced by publicly funded research projects, has become a prominent topic in the United States. In 2011, the two-year DataRes Project was initiated at the University of North Texas to document perceptions and responses to this emerging challenge in U.S. higher education and to explore ways in which the library and information science (LIS) profession could best respond to the need for better re - search data management in universities. This chapter will highlight some of the most provocative findings of the DataRes Project on the topic of research data management in higher education and then consider possible research data management (RDM) scenarios for the future and the implications of these scenarios.

The DataRes Project sought to document and understand a critical developmental moment, when many universities were starting to articulate the conceptual foundations, roles, and responsibilities involved in research data management. The project investigated the perspectives of stakeholders (e.g., researchers, librarians, information technology [IT] professionals, sponsored research offices) throughout the research lifecycle. Because it is still too early to draw definitive conclusions about prospective roles for LIS or other profes - sionals in research data management, the DataRes Project instead sought to document basic quantitative and qualitative information about stakeholder expectations, current institutional policies, and the preparation that information professionals will need as they take on emerging responsibilities in this area. Because the project was funded by a 21st Century Librarians grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, our aim was to establish a baseline study of research data management practices that institutions can use in developing new curricula and training.

The greatest benefit of this baseline study may be that it brings to the surface fundamental problems in the emerging landscape of research data management responses and interventions in the United States. Our research suggests that effective institutional responses to meet the challenge of research data management may be slow in coming, but are inevitable in the long term.

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2013
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