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Data support in practice

If there's one thing I've learned in my job as a data librarian, it's the following: Step into the field, talk to colleagues, participate and share! | Renate Mattiszik

In this section we show, as an inspiring example of data support, how Saxion Research Services of Saxion University of Applied Sciences makes data storage possible for its researchers during research.

No Research Drive without a drive of our own

Interview, June 2019

It's 2017. One of the members of Saxion's Executive Board is sitting at the table with a lecturer and observes that research data is stored in an unsafe manner. This is the decisive trigger that ensures that Saxion Research Services (n.d.a.) starts working on, among other things, the implementation of Research Drive (SURF, n.d.a.), a safe working environment to store and share data during research.

The carrot and the stick 

Rudy Dokter, information architect at SRS: "The choice fell partly on SURF's Research Drive because the data is securely stored on a server in Amsterdam. As a result, we only have to take into account European legislation".

The decision to set up the Saxion Research Cloud Drive - as they call the implementation of Research Drive within Saxion University of Applied Sciences - came at exactly the right time. It even turned out to be the carrot (incentive) to make good use of the existing research registration system.

Renate Mattiszik, data librarian at SRS, says: "In setting up research support, we first focused on registering research projects. After all, you don't know what to facilitate if you don't have insight into running projects. Due to a reorganisation, the registration was brought to a standstill. Researchers were unable to take over this task. At the same time, they were eager to store their research data in a secure manner. We then linked the two tasks - registration and secure storage. If you register your research project - and only then - you get access to a project-centred environment in the Saxion Research Cloud Drive".

And this approach worked: Saxion researchers are queuing up to register their research projects and store their data in the Research Cloud. They also register their research output. "Everything that is not registered does not count towards the research evaluation", says Sarah Coombs, research support advisor at Saxion, "so that's the stick. If you had asked us two years ago what research we are doing, we would not have had an answer to that question. Now that is very clear". 


The added value of being a forefront runner

The implementation of the Saxion Research Cloud Drive took 3 months from the decision of the Executive Board to its implementation and use by researchers. Such a short lead time is only possible if there is a fertile ground for this to happen. And there was, because at the time of the decision, SRS had already been working for a number of years to support researchers as practically as possible - with the one-stop-shop idea. The Executive Board supports the publication policy, there are ambassadors in the line and the high degree of organisation with regard to research support makes the lines of communication short. Sarah: "We already were a team before we became part of an official team. People are competent and in touch with each other and dare to step out of their comfort zone. This is perhaps the most important success factor. No Research Drive without your own drive".

The Saxion Research Services team is a collaboration between, among others, the Saxion Library, the Quality Assurance Office, the International Office, Saxion Research & Graduate School and Legal Affairs. In addition, the team has its own communication officer.

SRS invests a lot of time in professionalisation and good cooperation. The team is a pioneer in the field of higher professional education and gets things done through its pioneering attitude. "Because we have already implemented Research Drive, we can now also inspire other universities of applied sciences to do the same. There is momentum to get things done together. For example, SURF is now also considering extending Research Drive to an RDM platform, in which standards and links ensure that information can be exchanged between different systems and that the researcher's entire workflow is supported," says Renate.  

The next level

Saxion Research Services is still in development. How does SRS envisage the next steps in research support? For example, does it make sense to support researchers per research discipline with their data management? How can you train researchers to handle their data safely? The path that SRS always takes is to get an overview first and develop support as a second step. 

Sarah is particularly interested in how registering research output will contribute to the discussion about the impact of higher professional education research on society: "We receive everything from PowerPoints to prototypes and articles as research output. Because the research output is now visible, you can discuss and ultimately evaluate social impact in a more focused way" (Saxion, 2018).

In the meantime, Rudy will continue to monitor the information architecture: "You may have all sorts of wishes for services 'above the ground', but - according to the principles of open science - they must also be compatible 'below the ground'".

Renate concludes with a number of tips for her fellow data supporters: "If there's anything I've learned in my job as a data librarian, it's the following: "Go into the field, talk to colleagues, participate and share!"". 

In the spotlight

Saxion Research Services for the entire research cycle

In this paragraph we have shown how Saxion Research Services (n.d.a.) has proceeded with the implementation of Research Drive (SURF, n.d.a.). However, SRS provides even more services in the various phases of the research cycle. See their Post-It page (Saxion Research Services, n.d.b.) for an overview of these services.

Research Drive as community instance

Saxion has chosen to implement its own Research Drive (SURF, n.d.a.) as a community instance, with the look and feel of Saxion and tailored to its own situation. It is also possible for a research group to make use of a piece of 'the Dutch Research Drive'. You can apply for an account at SURF (n.d.b.).

Tutorials for Research Drive can be found on the wiki of SURF (SURF, n.d.c.). 

You can also have a look at the other services for data storage that SURF offers (SURF, n.d.d.).


Click to open/close

Saxion (2018, 7 september). ‘Als we zeggen dat hbo-onderzoek impact heeft, moeten we dat ook aan kunnen tonen’. [Nieuws}.

Saxion Research Services (n.d.a.)

Saxion Research Services (n.d.b.). Post-It. 

SURF (n.d.a.). Research Drive.

SURF (n.d.b.). Obtaining an account.

SURF (n.d.c.). Research Drive [Tutorials].

SURF (n.d.d.). Data storage and management.