Tag Archives: funders

Strategies for engaging senior leadership with RDM – IDCC discussion

This blog post gathers key reflections and take-home messages from a Birds of a Feather discussion on the topic of senior management engagement with RDM, and while written by a small number of attendees, the content reflects the wider discussion in the room on the day. [Authors: Silke Bellanger, Rosie Higman, Heidi Imker, Bev Jones, Liz Lyon, Paul Stokes, Marta Teperek*, Dirk Verdicchio]

On 20 February 2017, stakeholders interested in different aspects of data management and data curation met in Edinburgh to attend the 12th International Digital Curation Conference, organised by the Digital Curation Centre. Apart from discussing novel tools and services for data curation, the take-home message from many presentations was that successful development of Research Data Management (RDM) services requires the buy-in of a broad range of stakeholders, including senior institutional leadership


The key strategies for engaging senior leadership with RDM that were discussed were:

  • Refer to doomsday scenarios and risks to reputations
  • Provide high profile cases of fraudulent research
  • Ask senior researchers to self-reflect and ask them to imagine a situation of being asked for supporting research data for their publication
  • Refer to the institutional mission statement / value statement
  • Collect horror stories of poor data management practice from your research community
  • Know and use your networks – know who your potential allies are and how they can help you
  • Work together with funders to shape new RDM policies
  • Don’t be afraid to talk about the problems you are experiencing – most likely you are not alone and you can benefit from exchanging best practice with others

Why it is important to talk about engaging senior leadership in RDM?

Endorsement of RDM services by senior management is important because frequently it is a prerequisite for the initial development of any RDM support services for the research community. However, the sensitive nature of the topic (both financially and sometimes politically as well) means there are difficulties in openly discussing the issues that RDM service developers face when proposing business cases to senior leadership. This means the scale of the problem is unknown and is often limited to occasional informal discussions between people in similar roles who share the same problems.

This situation prevents those developing RDM services from exchanging best practice and addressing these problems effectively. In order to flesh out common problems faced by RDM service developers and to start identifying possible solutions, we organised an informal Birds of a Feather discussion on the topic during the 12th IDCC conference. The session was attended by approximately 40 people, including institutional RDM service providers, senior organisational leaders, researchers and publishers.

What is the problem?

We started by fleshing out the problems, which vary greatly between institutions. Many participants said that their senior management was disengaged with the RDM agenda and did not perceive good RDM as an area of importance to their institution. Others complained that they did not even have the opportunity to discuss the issue with their senior leadership. So the problems identified were both with the conversations themselves, as well as with accessing senior management in the first place.

We explored the type of senior leadership groups that people had problems engaging with. Several stakeholders were identified: top level institutional leadership, heads of faculties and schools, library leadership, as well as some research team leaders. The types of issues experienced when interacting with these various stakeholder groups also differed.

Common themes

Next we considered if there were any common factors shared between these different stakeholder groups. One of the main issues identified was that people’s personal academic/scientific experience and historic ideals of scientific practice were used as a background for decision making.

Senior leaders, like many other people, tend to look at problems with their own perspective and experience in mind. In particular, within the rapidly evolving scholarly communication environment what they perceive as community norms (or in fact community problems) might be changing and may now be different for current researchers.

The other common issue was the lack of tangible metrics to measure and assess the importance of RDM which could be used to persuade senior management of RDM’s usefulness. The difficulties in applying objective measures to RDM activities are mostly due to the fact that every researcher is undertaking an amount of RDM by default so it is challenging to find an example of a situation without any RDM activities that could be used as a baseline for an evidenced-based cost benefit analysis of RDM. The work conducted by Jisc in this area might be able to provide some solutions for this. Current results from this work can be found on the Research Data Network website.  

What works?

The core of our discussion was focused on exchanging effective methods of convincing managers and how to start gathering evidence to support the case for an RDM service within an institution.

Doomsday scenarios

We all agreed that one strategy that works for almost all possible audience types are doomsday scenarios – disasters that can happen when researchers do not adhere to good RDM practice. This could be as simple as asking individual senior researchers what they would do if someone accused them of falsifying research data five years after they have published their corresponding research paper. Would they have enough evidence to reject such accusations? The possibility of being confronted with their own potential undoing helped convince many senior managers of the importance of RDM.

Other doomsday scenarios which seem to convince senior leaders were related to broader institutional crises, such as risk of fire. Useful examples are the fire which destroyed the newly built Chemistry building at the University of Nottingham, the fire which destroyed valuable equipment and research at the University of Southampton (£120 million pounds’ worth of equipment and facilities), the recent fire at the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute and a similar disaster at the University of Santa Cruz.

Research integrity and research misconduct

Discussion of doomsday scenarios led us to talk about research integrity issues. Reference to documented cases of fraudulent research helped some institutions convince their senior leadership of the importance of good RDM. These cases included the fraudulent research by Diederik Stapel from Tilburg University or by Erin Potts-Kant from Duke University, where $200 million in grants was awarded based on fake data. This led to a longer discussion about research reproducibility and who owns the problem of irreproducible research – individual researchers, funders, institutions or perhaps publishers. We concluded that responsibility is shared, and that perhaps the main reason for the current reproducibility crisis lies in the flawed reward system for researchers. 

Research ethics and research integrity are directly connected to good RDM practice and are also the core ethical values of academia. We therefore reflected on the importance of referring to the institutional value statement/mission statement or code of conduct when advocating/arguing for good RDM. One person admitted adding a clear reference to the institutional mission statement whenever asking senior leadership for endorsement for RDM service improvements. The UK Concordat on Open Research Data is a highly regarded external document listing core expectations on good research data management and sharing, which might be worth including as a reference. In addition, most higher education institutions will have mandates in teaching and research, which might allow good RDM practice to be endorsed through their central ethics committees.

Bottom up approaches to reach the top

The discussion about ethics and the ethos of being a researcher started a conversation about the importance of bottom up approaches in empowering the research community to drive change and bring innovation. As many researcher champions as possible should convince senior leadership about important services. Researcher voices are often louder than those of librarians, or those running central support services, so consider who will best help to champion your cause.

Collecting testimonies from researchers about the difficulties of working with research data when good data management practice was not adhered to is also a useful approach. Shared examples of these included horror stories such as data loss from stolen laptops (when data had not been backed up), newly started postdocs inheriting projects and the need to re-do all the experiments from scratch due to lack of sufficient data documentation from their predecessor, or lost patent cases. One person mentioned that what worked at their institution was an ‘honesty box’ where researchers could anonymously share their horror data management stories.

We also discussed the potential role of whistle-blowers, especially given the fact that reputational damage is extremely important for institutions. There was a suggestion that institutions should add consequences of poor data management practice to their institutional risk registers. The argument that good data management practice leads to time and efficiency savings also seems to be powerful when presented to senior leadership.

The importance of social networks

We then discussed the importance of using one’s relationships in getting senior management’s endorsement for RDM. The key to this is getting to know the different stakeholders, their interests and priorities, and thinking strategically about target groups: who are potential allies? Who are the groups who are most hesitant about the importance of RDM? Why are they hesitant? Could allies help with any of these discussions? A particularly powerful example was from someone who had a Nobel Prize winner ally, who knew some of the senior institutional leaders and helped them to get institutional endorsement for their cause.

Can people change?

The question was asked whether anyone had an example of a senior leader changing their opinion, not necessarily about RDM services. Someone suggested that in case of unsupportive leadership, persistence and patience are required and that sometimes it is better to count on a change of leadership than a change of opinions. Another suggestion was that rebranding the service tends to be more successful than hoping for people to change. Again, knowing the stakeholders and their interests is helpful in getting to know what is needed and what kind of rebranding might be appropriate. For example, shifting the emphasis from sharing of research data and open access to supporting good research data management practice and increasing research efficiency was something that had worked well at one institution.

This also led to a discussion about the perception of RDM services and whether their governance structure made a difference to how they were perceived. There was a suggestion that presenting RDM services as endeavours from inside or outside the Library could make a difference to people’s perceptions. At one science-focused institution anything coming from the library was automatically perceived as a waste of money and not useful for the research community and, as a result, all business cases for RDM services were bound to be unsuccessful due to the historic negative perception of the library as a whole. Opinion seemed to confirm that in places where libraries had not yet managed to establish themselves as relevant to 21st century academics, pitching library RDM services to senior leadership was indeed difficult. A suggested approach is to present RDM services as collaborative endeavours, and as joint ventures with other institutional infrastructure or service providers, for example as a collaboration between the library and the central IT department. Again, strong links and good relationships with colleagues at other University departments proved to be invaluable in developing RDM services as joint ventures.

The role of funding bodies

We moved on to discuss the need for endorsement for RDM at an institutional level occurring in conjunction with external drivers. Institutions need to be sustainable and require external funding to support their activities, and therefore funders and their requirements are often key drivers for institutional policy changes. This can happen on two different levels. Funding is often provided on the condition that any research data generated as a result needs to be properly managed during the research lifecycle, and is shared at the end of the project.

Non-compliance with funders’ policies can result in financial sanctions on current grants or ineligibility for individual researchers to apply for future grant funding, which can lead to a financial loss for the University overall. Some funders, such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) in the United Kingdom, have clear expectations that institutions should support their researchers in adhering to good research data management practice by providing adequate infrastructure and policy framework support, therefore directly requesting institutions to support RDM service development.

Could funders do more?

There was consensus that funding bodies could perhaps do more to support good research data management, especially given that many non-UK funders do not yet have requirements for research data management and sharing as a condition of their grants. There was also a useful suggestion that funders should make more effort to ensure that their policies on research data management and sharing are adhered to, for example by performing spot-checks on research papers acknowledging their funding to see if supporting research data was made available, as the EPSRC have been doing recently.

Similarly, if funders would do more to review and follow up on data management plans submitted as part of grant applications it would be useful in convincing researchers and senior leadership of the importance of RDM. Currently not all funders require that researchers submit data management plans as part of grant applications. Although some pioneering work aiming to implement active data management plans started, people taking part in the discussion were not aware of any funding body having a structured process in place to review and follow up on data management plans. There was a suggestion that institutions should perhaps be more proactive in working together with funders in shaping new policies. It would be useful to have institutional representatives at funders’ meetings to ensure greater collaboration.

Future directions and resources

Overall we felt that it was useful to exchange tips and tricks so we can avoid making the same mistakes. Also, for those who had not yet managed to secure endorsement for RDM services from their senior leaders it was reassuring to understand that they were not the only ones having difficulty. Community support was recognised as valuable and worth maintaining. We discussed what would be the best way of ensuring that the advice exchanged during the meeting was not lost, and also how an effective exchange of ideas on how best to engage with senior leadership should be continued. First of all we decided to write up a blog post report of the meeting and to make it available to a wider audience.

Secondly, Jisc agreed to compile the various resources and references mentioned and to create a toolkit of techniques with examples for making RDM business cases for RDM. An initial set of resources useful in making the case can be found on the Research Data Network webpages. The current resources include A High Level Business Case, some Case studies and Miscellaneous resources – including Videos, slide decks, infographics, links to external toolkits, etc. Further resources are under development and are being added on a regular basis.

The final tip to all RDM service providers was that the key to success was making the service relevant and that persistence in advocating for the good cause is necessary. RDM service providers should not be shy about sharing the importance of their work with their institution, and should be proud of the valuable work they are doing. Research datasets are vital assets for institutions, and need to be managed carefully, and being able to leverage this is the key in making senior leadership understand that providing RDM services is essential in supporting institutional business.

Published 5 May 2017
Written by Silke Bellanger, Rosie Higman, Heidi Imker, Bev Jones, Liz Lyon, Paul Stokes, Dr Marta Teperek and Dirk Verdicchio

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Open Research Project, first thoughts

Dr Laurent Gatto is one of the participants in the Office of Scholarly Communication’s Open Research Pilot. He has recently blogged about his first impressions of the pilot. With his permission we have re-blogged it here.

I am proud to be one of the participants in the Wellcome Trust Open Research Project (and here). The call was initially opened in December 2016 and was pitched like this:

Are you in favour of more transparency in research? Are you concerned about research reproducibility? Would you like to get better recognition and credit for all outputs of your research process? Would you like to open up your research and make it more available to others?

If you responded ‘yes’ to any of these questions, we would like to invite you to participate in the Open Research Pilot Project, organised jointly by the Open Research team at the Wellcome Trust and theOffice of Scholarly Communication at the University of Cambridge.

This of course sounded like a great initiative for me and I promptly filed an application.

We had our kick-off meeting on the 27th January, with the aim of getting to know each other and somehow define/clarify some of the objectives of the project. This post summarises my take on it.

Here’s how I introduced myself.

Who are you?

Laurent Gatto, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Biochemistry, physically located in Systems Biology and the Maths Department. SSI fellow and Software/Data Carpentry instructor and generally involved in the Open community in Cambridge, such as OpenConCam and Data Champions initiative.

What is your research about and what kind of data does your research generate?

My area of research is computational biology, with special focus on high-throughput proteomics and integration of different data and annotations. I use raw data produced by third parties, in particular the Cambridge Centre for Proteomics (mass spectrometry data), and produce processed/annotated/interactive data and a lot of software (and also here).

What motivated you to participate in the Pilot?

Improve openness/transparency (and hence reproducibility/rigour) in my research and communication, and participate in improving openness (and hence reproducibility/rigour) more widely.

What kind of outputs are you planning to share? Do you foresee any difficulties in sharing?

My direct outputs are systematically shared openly early on: open source software (before publication), pre-prints, improved data (as data packages). Difficulties, if any, generally stem from collaborators less willing to share early and openly.

A personal take on the project

It is a long project, 2 years, and hence a rather ambitious one, of a unique kind. Hence, we will have to define its overall goals as we go. The continued involvement of the participants over time will play a major role in the project’s success.

What are attainable goals?

It is important to note that there is no funding for the participants. We are driven by a desire to be open, benefit from being open and the visibility that we can gain through the project, and the prospect that the Wellcome Trust will learn from our experience and, implement any lessons learnt. We get to interact with each other and with research support librarians, who will help us throughout the duration of the project. We also commit to sharing of research outputs beyond traditional publications and to engage with the Project, by participating in Project meetings and contributing to Project publications.

A lot of our initial discussions centred around rewards for open research or, actually, lack thereof and perceived associated risks. Indeed, the traditional academic rewarding system and the competitiveness in research leaves little room for reproducibility and openness. It is, I believe, all participants hope that this project will benefit us, in some form or another.

A critical point that is missing is the academic promotion of open research and open researcher, as a way to promote a more rigorous and sound research process and tackle the reproducibility crisis. What should the incentives be? How to make sure that the next generation of academics genuinely value openness and transparency as a foundation of rigorous research?

Some desired outputs

Ideally, I would like that the Wellcome Trust’s famous Research investigator awards to be de facto Open research investigator awards. There’s currently a split (opposition?) between doing research and supporting open science when doing research. In every grant I have written, I had to demonstrate that the team had a track record, or was in a good position to successfully pursue to proposed project. Well, how about demonstrating a track record in being good in opening and sharing science outputs? Every researcher submitting a grant should convincingly demonstrate that they are, have been and/or will be proactive open researcher and openly disseminate all the outputs. By leading by example in the frame of this Open Research Project, this is something that the Wellcome Trust could take away from.

Unfortunately, it is a fact that open science is not on the agenda of many (most?) more senior researchers and that they are neither in a position to be open nor that open science is a priority at all. I find it particularly disheartening that many senior academics (i.e. those that will sit on the panel deciding if I’m worth my next job) consider investing time in open science and the promotion of open science as time wasted of actually doing research. A bit like time for outreach and promotion of science to the wider public is sometimes looked down at, as not being the real stuff.

Another desire is that this project will enable us to influence funders, such as the Wellcome Trust, of course, but also more widely the research councils.

As a concrete example, I would like all grants that are accepted to be openly published beyond the daft layman summary. Published grants after acceptance should include data management plan, the pathway to impact, possibly more, and these could then be used to assess to what extend the project delivered as promised.

This serves at least two purposes. First, it is a way to promote transparency and accountability towards the funder, scientific community and public. Also, it is a great resource for early career researchers. Unless there is specific support in place, writing a first grant is not an easy job, especially given the multitude documents to prepare in addition to the scientific case for support. And even for more experienced researchers, it can’t harm to explore different approaches to grant writing.

Another concrete output is the requirement for a dedicated software management plan for each grant that involves any software development. I certainly consider my software to be equivalent to data and document it as such in my DMPs, but there seems to be a need for clarification.

I believe that I do a pretty decent job in conducting open science: pre-prints, open access, release data, … In the frame of this project, I shall do a better job at promoting open science for its own sake.

I also hope that by bringing some of my projects under the umbrella of the the Open Research Project, I will benefit from a broader dissemination that will, directly or indirectly, be beneficial for my career (see the importance of benefits and rewards above).

Next steps

It is important to make the most out of this unique opportunity. We need to create a momentum, define ambitious goals, and work hard to reach them. But I also think that it is important to get as much input as possible from the community. Nothing beats collective intelligence for such open-ended projects, in particular for open projects.

So please, do not hesitate to comment, discuss on twitter or elsewhere, or email me directly if you have ideas you would like to promote and or discuss.

Published 08 March 2017
Written by Dr Laurent Gatto
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Show me the money – the path to a sustainable Research Data Facility

Like many institutions in the UK, Cambridge University has responded to research funders’ requirements for data management and  sharing with a concerted effort to support our research community in good data management and sharing practice through our Research Data Facility. We have written a few times on this blog and presented to describe our services. This blog is a description of the process we have undertaken to support these services in the long term.

Funders expect  that researchers make the data underpinning their research available and provide a link to this data in the paper itself. The EPSRC started checking compliance with their data sharing requirement on 1 May 2015. When we first created the Research Data Facility we spoke to many researchers across the institution and two things became very clear. One was that there was considerable confusion about what actually counts as data, and the second was that sharing data on publication is not something that can be easily done as an afterthought if the data was not properly managed in the first place.

We have approached these issues separately. To try and determine what is actually required from funders beyond the written policies we have invited representatives from our funders to come to discussions and forums with our researchers to work out the details. So far we have hosted Ben Ryan from the EPSRC, Michael Ball from the BBSRC and most recently David Carr and Jamie Enoch from the Wellcome Trust and CRUK respectively.

Dealing with the need for awareness of research data management has been more complex. To raise awareness of good practice in data management and sharing we embarked on an intense advocacy programme and in the past 15 months have organised 71 information sessions about data sharing (speaking with over 1,700 researchers). But we also needed to ensure the research community was managing its data from the beginning of the research process. To assist this we have developed workshops on various aspects of data management (hosting 32 workshops in the past year), a comprehensive website, a service to support researchers with their development of their research data management plans and a data management consultancy service.

So far, so good. We have had a huge response to our work, and while we encourage researchers to use the data repository that best suits their material, we do offer our institutional repository Apollo as an option. We are as of today, hosting 499 datasets in the repository. The message is clearly getting through.


The word sustainability (particularly in the scholarly communication world) is code for ‘money’. And money has become quite a sticking point in the area of data management. The way Cambridge started the Research Data Facility was by employing a single person, Dr Marta Teperek for one year, supported by the remnants of the RCUK Transition Fund. It became quickly obvious that we needed more staff to manage the workload and now the Facility employs half an Events and Outreach Coordinator and half a Repository Manager plus a Research Data Adviser who looks after the bulk of the uploading of data sets into the repository.

Clearly there was a need to work out the longer term support for staffing the Facility – a service for which there are no signs of demand slowing. Early last year we started scouting around for options.  In April 2013 the RCUK released some guidance that said it was permissible to recover costs from grants through direct charges or overheads – but noted institutions could not charge twice. This guidance also mentioned that it was permissible for institutions to recover costs of RDM Facilities as other Small Research Facilities, “provided that such facilities are transparently charged to all projects that use them”.


On the basis of that advice we established a Research Data Facility as a Small Research Facility according to the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology. Our proposal was that Facility’s costs will be recovered from grants as directly allocated costs. We chose this option rather than overheads because of the advantage of transparency to the funder of our activities. By charging grants this way it meant a bigger advocacy and education role for the Facility. But the advantage is that it would make researchers aware that they need to consider research data management seriously, that this involves both time and money, and that it is an integral part of a grant proposal.

Dr Danny Kingsley has argued before (for example in a paper ‘Paying for publication: issues and challenges for research support services‘) that by centralising payments for article processing charges, the researchers remain ignorant of the true economics of the open access system in the way that they are generally unaware of the amounts spent on subscriptions. If we charged the costs of the Facility into overheads, it becomes yet another hidden cost and another service that ‘magically’ happens behind the scenes from the researcher’s point of view.

In terms of the actual numbers, direct costs of the Research Data Facility included salaries for 3.2 FTEs (a Research Data Facility Manager, Research Data Adviser, 0.5 Outreach and Engagement Coordinator, 0.5 Repository Manager, 0.2 Senior Management time), hardware and hardware maintenance costs, software licences, costs of organising events as well as the costs of staff training and conference attendance. The total direct annual cost of our Facility was less than £200,000. These are the people cost of the Facility and are not to be confused with the repository costs (for which we do charge directly).

Determining how much to charge

Throughout this process we have explored many options for trying to assess a way of graduating the costing in relation to what support might be required. Ideally, we would want to ensure that the Facility costs can be accurately measured based on what the applicant indicated in their data management plan. However, not all funders require data management plans. Additionally, while data management plans provide some indication of the quantity of data (storage) to be generated, they do not allow a direct estimate of the amount of data management assistance required during the lifetime of the grant. Because we could not assess the level of support required for a particular research project from a data management plan, we looked at an alternative charging strategy.

We investigated charging according to the number of people on a team, given that the training component of the Facility is measurable by attendees to workshops. However, after investigation we were unable to easily extract that type of information about grants and this also created a problem for charging for collaborative grants. We then looked at charging a small flat charge on every grant requiring the assistance of the Facility and at charging proportionally to the size (percentage of value) of the grant. Since we did not have any compelling evidence that bigger grants require more Facility assistance, we proposed a model of flat charging on all grants, which require Facility assistance. This model was also the most cost-effective from an administrative point of view.

As an indicator of the amount of work involved in the development of the Business Case, and the level of work and input that we have received relating to it, the document is now up to version 18 – each version representing a recalculation of the costings.

Collaborative process

A proposal such as we were suggesting – that we charge the costs of the Facility as a direct charge against grants – is reasonably radical. It was important that we ensure the charges would be seen as fair and reasonable by the research community and the funders. To that end we have spent the best part of a year in conversation with both communities.

Within the University we had useful feedback from the Open Access Project Board (OAPB) when we first discussed the option in July last year. We are also grateful to the members of our community who subsequently met with us in one on one meetings to discuss the merits of the Facility and the options for supporting it. At the November 2015 OAPB meeting, we presented a mature Business Case. We have also had to clear the Business Case through meetings of the Resource Management Committee (RMC).

Clearly we needed to ensure that our funders were prepared to support our proposal. Once we were in a position to share a Business Case with the funders we started a series of meetings and conversations with them.

The Wellcome Trust was immediate in its response – they would not allow direct charging to grants as they consider this to be an overhead cost, which they do not pay. We met with Cancer Research UK (CRUK) in January 2016 and there was a positive response about our transparent approach to costing and the comprehensiveness of services that the Facility provides to researchers at Cambridge. These issues are now being discussed with senior management at CRUK and discussions with CRUK are still ongoing at the time of writing this report (May 2016). [Update 24 May: CRUK agreed to consider research data management costs as direct costs on grant applications on a case by case basis, if justified appropriately in the context of the proposed research].

We encourage open dialogue with the RCUK funders about data management. In May 2015 we invited Ben Ryan to come to the University to talk about the EPSRC expectations on data management and how Cambridge meets these requirements. In August 2015 Michael Ball from the BBSRC came to talk to our community. We had an indication from the RCUK that our proposal was reasonable in principle. Once we were in a position to show our Business Case to the RCUK we invited Mark Thorley to discuss the issue and he has been in discussion with the individual councils for their input to give us a final answer.

Administrative issues

Timing in a decision like this is challenging because of the large number of systems within the institution that would be affected if a change were to occur. In anticipation of a positive response we started the process of ensuring our management and financial systems were prepared and able to manage the costing into grants – to ensure that if a green light were given we would be prepared.  To that end we have held many discussions with the Research Office on the practicalities of building the costing into our systems to make sure the charge is easy to add in our grant costing tool. We also had numerous discussions on how to embed these procedures in their workflows for validating whether the Facility services are needed and what to do if researchers forget to add them. The development has now been done.

A second consideration is the necessity to ensure all of the administrative staff involved in managing research grants (at Cambridge this is a  group of over 100 people) are aware of the change and how to manage both the change to the grant management system and also manage the questions from their research community. Simultaneously we were also involved in numerous discussions with our invaluable TRAC team at the Finance Division at the University who helped us validate all the Facility costs (to ensure that none of the costs are charged twice) and establishing costs centres and workflows for recovering money from grants.

Meanwhile we have had to keep our Facility staff on temporary contracts until we are in a position to advertise the roles. There is a huge opportunity cost in training people up in this area.


As it happened, the RCUK has come back to us to say that we can charge this cost to grants but as an overhead rather than direct cost. Having this decision means we can advertise the positions and secure our staffing situation. But we won’t be needing the administrative amendments to the system, nor the advocacy programme.

It has been a long process given we began preparing the Business Case in March 2015. The consultation throughout the University and the engagement of our community (both research and funder) has given us an opportunity to discuss the issues of research data management more widely. It is a shame – from our perspective – that we will not be able to be transparent about the costs of managing data effectively.

The funders and the University are all working towards a shared goal – we are wanting a culture change towards more open research, including the sharing of research data. To achieve this we need a more aware and engaged research community on these matters.  There is much advocacy to do.

Published 8 May 2016
Written by Dr Danny Kingsley and Dr Marta Teperek
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