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Exploiting the WIIFM Principle: Managing Data @ Melbourne online training

Effective research data management practice is promoted as providing numerous professional benefits for researchers such as increased research productivity and visibility.

There is evidence that across academic institutions researchers typically have ad hoc data management practices.  How do you facilitate a change in the culture of research practice to ensure that data is well managed, increasingly made openly-accessible, and that data citation is a norm, rather than the exception?

How does data planning become an integral part of the research lifecycle (rather than just an administrative burden) which commences even before research data is generated or collected?  How do you raise expertise and activity levels?  What are the motivations or incentives for researchers to undertake training and develop their expertise in best-practice data management?

The starting point for any change that involves individuals, has to be about the individuals. Unless you know your reason for what you are doing or the benefit to be gained, why do it? Building on adult learning theory and to address the varied needs of adult learners, it is critical to situate learning in a context that can be applied to real-life and to articulate the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) to pique interest and curiosity and reinforce the relevance of the learning.

Building on the successful UK MANTRA program, the University of Melbourne Library has developed Managing Data @ Melbourne – a new online training program that aims to demonstrate value and build a community and culture around good research data management.  Using a range of technology-supported learning experiences, the online program enables participants to learn at their own pace and apply learnings within their own research context. The outcome-focused program introduces and explores foundational concepts using inquiry-based learning. The participants are provided with case studies, real-world stories and discipline-focused examples from fellow early and late-career researchers, interactive learning activities, and self-reflection opportunities.

At the commencement of the program participants are asked to create a draft data management plan (DMP) using DMP Online. At the end of each module participants will apply their learning by reflecting on their own projects and completing the relevant sections of the their DMP.  Using a flipped classroom strategy, the Managing Data @ Melbourne is supplemented by face-to-face workshops and individual research consultations. By focusing on the researcher, we were able to use lean principles to streamline the program and to facilitate the creation of a DMP – a concrete output that will be of ongoing benefit to the researcher.

This paper outlines the implementation of the new program in 2017, and discusses the early results of our pilot, lessons learnt, and how we are measuring program success and impact.