Collaboration in RDM activities – Practices and development at Aalto University




Watch the VIDEO here. Presenter – Maria Söderholm

Research data management (RDM) is a complex and dynamic topic, and demands diverse expertise, skills and knowledge. The RDM expertise includes subtopics like collection/provision of data; storage and processing of data; long-term preservation requirements of the data; and funders’ demands and solutions to share, re-find and re-use research data. Usually the expertise related to these RDM subtopics is spread to several university units, both academic and administrative. Therefore, many tasks related to RDM, for example, day-to-day practices, the supply of services and the development work are best carried out in a network-based cooperation.

In the presentation, we will introduce our RDM related partnership and networking of Aalto University. As a starting point, we introduce the internal service development working principles that our RDM network work is based on. However, the focus will be on describing our RDM working group and development activities.

Aalto’s Research Data Management Programme forms the backbone for RDM work. It establishes seven separate action points for RDM activities: 1) open access  publishing; 2) implementation of data management planning tool; 3) metadata catalogue for open data; 4) data publishing; 5) comprehensive repository service for storage, back-up and collaboration; 6) combining openness and innovation; and 7) RDM awareness building activities. The actors in the RDM network consist of Research and Innovation Services (leading the group), IT Services, and Learning Centre (previously Library).

In the presentation, we will introduce the core actors in more detail, paying attention to the complementarity of the roles; and the activities and the aims, which steer the work. We also discuss the meaning and consequences of the network-based cooperation for the working group.

First, the RDM group acts as a joint platform for comprehensive RDM information. Important means of data gathering are surveys and informal discussion with researcher. In the future, formal group discussions on RDM needs are hosted. The previous discussions with researchers have underlined the importance of arranging services for both disciplinary and data specific needs in addition to common university level service needs.

Second, the group is a messenger of the RDM topics. Our task is to rise internal RDM awareness and disseminate national and international information and development trends in the university.

The third and the most challenging aim is the RDM service planning and delivery. Our task is to identify the existing in-house services, to map the suitable services provided by national and international agents as well as to recognize the needs for new services. Our service portfolio covers both consultation/informational services and technical, hands-on services. However, many of our research data services are still in the planning or piloting stage, thus cooperation with researchers is essential.

In our experience, the network-based collaboration model that foster individuals’ interconnectedness is crucial for surviving with the built-in dynamism of RDM. This model provides a non-hierarchical and flexible environment for actions to meet the increasing expectations for research data services we face from the funders, governments, and researchers.

Author Biographies

Maria Söderholm, Aalto University

Maria works as an information specialist in the Learning Centre’s Research and publishing team who is also responsible for the quality and coverage of university’s publishing information in research information system ACRIS. She coordinates and develops Centre’s research data management related activities and is a liaison for the school of chemical technology and a member of the school’s scientific publishing committee.

Anne Sunikka, Aalto University

Research and Innovation Services
Maria Söderholm




How to Cite

Söderholm, M., & Sunikka, A. (2017). Collaboration in RDM activities – Practices and development at Aalto University. Septentrio Conference Series, (1).