SND's Pilot Project: Creating Routines for Local Data Management

Published: 2019-05-17

This spring, SND launched a pilot project with some of the universities and research organisations in the SND network, in order to try out the new operative model for local data management. In the pilot, management and publication of research data which has so far been handled centrally by SND, has gradually been transferred to local Data Access Units (DAUs) that are being established all over the country.

Pilot i helikopter

When SND asked for participants to a pilot project for testing the coming work processes for DAU and researchers, the response revealed a keen interest from the network. Twelve DAU signed up and eight were chosen for the pilot: Chalmers University of Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Malmö University, Stockholm University, Swedish Polar Research Institute, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Borås, and University of Gothenburg.

The purpose of the pilot project has been to try out a workflow where the local DAU manage and publish metadata and research data from one or more researchers. This included creating routines for the work processes and trying out the tools and resources that SND have developed for the workflow. It has also been a test of SND’s new operative model, where the review, publishing, and storage of research data are local, and SND Gothenburg has a supportive role and functions as the system administrator.

Workshops to test the coming work routines
As part of the pilot SND Gothenburg has arranged workshops with representatives from each of the eight DAUs, where they have been able to try out the workflow for publishing research data in SND’s catalogue. The process has involved checking incoming data and reviewing the metadata with the help of SND’s data description form, and simultaneously exploring the support resources in SND’s DAU Handbook. As the pilot project has focused on creating routines for the cooperation between researchers and DAU, researchers have also participated in some of the workshops. SND Gothenburg’s role has been to support and guide the DAU representatives in the right direction, which means that they have also created routines for the communication between the DAU and SND Gothenburg.

What can we learn?
An idea behind a pilot study is to gather feedback, and SND’s project has certainly been fruitful in that respect. During the pilot, SND staff have collected plenty of valuable input from the DAU representatives and the participating researchers. The questions and considerations that have appeared highlight the problems that the users of the SND system and tools can encounter during their work, which is important information in the continued development work. As the participants have been working with different types of data materials, the discussions in the workshops have been very varied. Some have dealt with sensitive personal data, which led to discussions about confidentiality and legal matters. In some workshops there have been participants from IT and the archives, who have provided good insight into the local needs and some new perspectives to consider.

With the participants’ feedback and comments, SND can continue the work in optimising the workflow, developing and improving the data description form and the metadata profiles, and expanding and improving the DAU Handbook. The technical parts of the SND system, such as storage, various tools, and bug fixes, can also be addressed. After the feedback from the pilot has been compiled, SND plan to hold workshops in more universities and institutes in autumn. The focus will then be to test the work processes with more researchers and to give exercises that will create routines between all parties involved.

Further discussions in SND’s coming network meeting
Following the evaluation of the pilot project, SND has arranged a network meeting where parts of the pilot project will be up for discussion with the entire network. The meeting, labelled “Vårt arbete med forskare” (Our work with researchers), will be held in Gävle on 3–4 June, and focuses on research support and practical data management. During the meeting there will also be a session on experiences from the pilot project.