Posted December 4, 2023 by Office of Research and Economic Development
The Comprehensive Research Data Strategy Task Force has identified its first set of recommendations from its initial focus on active research data storage across the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as well as unveiled a website and additional tools to guide faculty and research personnel in managing data storage requirements.
Data storage needs are becoming increasingly complex and are continuing to grow. Launched in late 2022, the task force is a coordinated effort to bring together faculty researchers, administrators and service units that are responsible for aspects of research data. Participating units include the Holland Computing Center, Information Technology Services, the Office of Research and Economic Development and University Libraries.
A central website – researchdata.unl.edu – will bring UNL research data services, policies, procedures and guidance, expert advice, and more into a single location for easier navigation. Site development will continue as the task force’s work evolves.
The first stage of the task force’s work, which concluded in September 2023, included quantitative and qualitative analyses of UNL’s active data storage offerings. A summary of the task force’s first stage of work is available. Key findings were:
- While active data storage is available to all researchers, these solutions are not fully mature. Many researchers lack information and knowledge about how to use them effectively. Policies and procedures on storage use also need further development. The task force recommends that UNL should aim to reach full maturation of these resources in three to five years.
- Improved communication is essential for researchers to learn how to leverage data storage resources on campus and follow both established and new policies and procedures. The challenge of sharing data with collaborating institutions was identified as a barrier that limits UNL’s research capabilities.
In response to the task force’s findings, two new resources are now available for research personnel:
- A self-assessment tool to help researchers identify the risk classification of their data, which NU policy requires.
- A research data storage tool to explore options ranging from standard enterprise offerings to alternative solutions for special cases.
The task force also identified recommendations for personnel, communication and infrastructure. Some action has already been taken in alignment with these recommendations.
Recommendation 1: Personnel involved in service delivery for active research data storage services must be well-networked, collaborative and knowledgeable about the research process.
- Action steps: The Task Force itself is one way that the involved service units are better networked. In addition, ITS and ORED meet biweekly to help coordinate IT needs as they interface with the administration of campus research. ORED also appointed Alian Kasabian, also director of the Methodology and Evaluation Research Core, to serve as a research and data security liaison available to help researchers campuswide.
Recommendation 2: Communication to Nebraska’s research community about active research data storage solutions and policies must be timely and communicated in ways that are easily understood across disciplines and by professionals outside the information technology field.
- Action step: The data risk classification and data storage web tools are examples of resources designed to provide simple, user friendly ways to navigate the selection of data storage solutions.
Recommendation 3: Physical research data storage infrastructure must be maintained and adapted to meet growing and changing needs. The costs associated with data storage solutions should be readily available to researchers, so costs can be considered in planning research projects.
- Action step: ITS will be ensuring that the data storage selection tool provides current cost information for different storage solutions so that researchers and grant specialists preparing new grant applications can properly budget for data storage as part of proposed projects.
Following its initial focus on active research data storage, the task force has focused in fall 2023 on data repositories for access and data curation. Findings and recommendations on these topics will be shared in early 2024.
For more information, contact Jennifer Nelson, assistant vice chancellor for research and research integrity officer.