Research Data Repository June Update

By Toby O’Hara and Peter Sefton

This post is an update on the Research Data Repository (RDR) project. The short version is that initial efforts will be focussed on two areas where we can make an immediate difference:

  1. Work is proceeding as quickly as possible to get dedicated research storage (which we already have set up) to the point where it can be quickly and easily provisioned to researchers as a simple share (“the R drive”).

  2. We are also keen to make  immediate progress on the externally-funded portion of the RDR project, the Research Data Catalogue and to get the basic deliverables on that ticked-off; to set the scene for adding real value to the university’s research.

At UWS eResearch projects relating to research data are overseen by a very effective committee chaired by a representative of the Pro Vice Chancellor, Research, who represents the interests of Researchers. Also represented are IT, The Library and the Office of Research Services, and, of course eResearch. The chair is Professor Deborah Sweeney, Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) Health & Science.  Last Friday, our  brand-spanking new project/implementation manager for the Research Data Repository, Toby O’Hara faced the Data Related Projects Steering Committee for the first time. He was able to report progress and get agreement from the committee on the priorities mentioned above.

Progress to date has been to take initial work on defining and describing the RDR, and flesh it out a little more, through discussion with other stakeholders. For example, eResearch is working collaboratively with the Office of Research Services to firstly, understand researcher’s needs, and secondly meet as many needs as possible. This solution includes:

  • Advice and guidance on Data Management policies, practices, and approaches

  • Some technical assistance which will provide connected storage and data sharing options

The technical solution was discussed with Information Technology Services, and it was agreed with them that a good starting point would be a disk drive with storage space which researchers can use as data storage. In the office we are calling it the “R:\” for ‘research’. The reason it’s referred to as a starting point is because we view it as a very basic solution, and that there are many other storage and computing possibilities out there which need to be tamed, groomed, and made available.

This “R:\” storage option was discussed with the DRPSC and approved by them as a reasonable and doable first step.

The Research Data Catalogue (AKA ANDS project MS23), which is a portion of the RDR, was also officially kicked off, and a milestone schedule established. This milestone schedule was presented to the steering committee, and accepted with no concerns raised.

There is still some work to be done to further scope and define specifically what the RDR will look like, technically, and operationally.

To identify a problem that some researchers may not fully understand, eResearch may very well need to provide a strong source of information about data management, what it is and who is requiring it. Once that is established, we might get a few more people excited about what UWS is doing to make their data management easier.

We also hope to keep exploring local, remote, and cloud-y options “behind the scenes” that introduce technological efficiency and cost savings and at the same time be simple enough in presentation that it is easy for an interested researcher to take advantage of the services.

Comments and suggestions are welcome.

Copyright Toby O’Hara and Peter Sefton, 2012. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia. <>

1 thought on “Research Data Repository June Update

  1. Hi UWS team,

    Re your last note about cloud-y options, I’ve been wondering about information exchange between groups such as RDSI/NeCTAR and institutions.

    For example, if a researcher gets 1TB of RDSI space, would it be worthwhile to have them capture some information/metadata about the data? This could then be provided to the associated institution, to be fed into their RDR. The benefit would be that the institution would become aware that the research data existed and then work with the researcher to ensure it’s properly described and shared with systems such as RDA.

    I think it would be worthwhile but am interested in your thoughts.


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