Creating a Community of Data Champions
Research Data Management (RDM) presents an unusual challenge for service providers in Higher Education. There is increased awareness of the need for training in this area but the nature of the discipline-specific practices involved make it difficult to provide training across a multi-disciplinary organisation. Whilst most UK universities now have a research data team of some description, they are often small and rarely have the resources necessary to provide targeted training to the different disciplines and research career stages that they are increasingly expected to support.
This practice paper describes the approach taken at the University of Cambridge to address this problem by creating a community of Data Champions. This collaborative initiative, working with researchers to provide training and advocacy for good RDM practice, allows for more discipline-specific training to be given, researchers to be credited for their expertise and creates an opportunity for those interested in RDM to exchange knowledge with others. The ‘community of practice’ model has been used in many sectors, including Higher Education, to facilitate collaboration across organisational units and this initiative will adopt some of the same principles to improve communication across a decentralised institution. The Data Champions initiative at Cambridge was launched in September 2016 and this paper reports on the early months, plans for building the community in the future and the possible risks associated with this approach to providing RDM services.
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