In June 2017 Data Services in the University Libraries was contacted by Carola Haas (Professor, Fish and Wildlife Conservation). Professor Haas outlined several data management issues they wanted to address with respect to their long-term ecological field research projects in the Florida Panhandle.
Data Management Consultant Jonathan Petters responded. Over the course of a few meetings with Professor Haas and her local research colleagues (Dr. Jennifer Smith and Mr. George Brooks), they agreed that the field workers (both seasonal and more permanent) would benefit from a more formal training curriculum in research data management prior to next field season’s data collection.
In September 2017 Jon presented a framework for a customized data management training curriculum to several of the field workers when they were in Blacksburg. This curriculum incorporated important input from Professor Haas, Dr. Smith and Mr. Brooks, and includes
An important aspect of this presentation and ensuing discussion was not to impose external rules on the field workers, but rather to begin a dialogue as to how field data collection and management was done in the past and how everyone could work together to improve the management of the data. It can be very difficult to change collaborative data management practices without collective buy-in from members of the group.
Upon conclusion of the presentation and discussion, and in follow-up via e-mail, both the field workers and Blacksburg-local researchers expressed their appreciation for the proposed curriculum. The data management session for the field workers was held a few months later, and they were on board with instituting new protocols for data management and acquisition.
There is not always an immediate payoff when focusing time and effort on improving research data management, and that is true for this case as well. While it is expected to be substantially positive, the real impact of this deeper consultative assistance will be best understood when the field season ends and data aggregation and analysis begin.
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