The Realities of Research Data Management

The Realities of Research Data Management is a four-part series that explores how research universities are addressing the challenge of managing research data throughout the research lifecycle. In this series, we examine the context, influences, and choices higher education institutions face in building or acquiring RDM capacity—in other words, the infrastructure, services, and other resources needed to support emerging data management practices. Our findings are based on case studies of four institutions: University of Edinburgh (UK), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (US), Monash University (Australia) and Wageningen University & Research (the Netherlands), in four very different national contexts.

Part Four: Sourcing and Scaling University RDM Services

Another key facet of RDM capacity acquisition is determining where that capacity will be sourced: will it be built and maintained internally, or will it be acquired from an external provider? Similarly, the question of scale must be addressed: should RDM solutions be deployed as institution-scale services, or should they be organized at scales above the institution?

This final report of the series examines the sourcing and scaling choices made by the four research universities regarding their acquisition of RDM capacity. What variables are being maximized in these decisions: efficiency/cost reduction? Reliability/trust? The choices that individual institutions make with respect to sourcing and scaling likely depend on a host of factors, including local staffing and infrastructure, availability of cooperatively sourced or nationally provisioned services and willingness to pay for commercially sourced solutions.

While each of the four case studies partners pursued a different strategy, there are trends that span the institutions, including:

  • curation services are the most likely to be externalized
  • education and expertise services are largely local in scale . . . so far
  • one size does not fit all: sourcing and scaling RDM changes to fit institutional needs

Read the full report for more findings.

Download US Letter .pdf

Download A4 .pdf

Suggested citation:

Bryant, Rebecca, Brian Lavoie, and Constance Malpas. 2018. Sourcing and Scaling University RDM Services. The Realities of Research Data Management, Part 4. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.


Research Data Management Part Four

Project staff

Rebecca Bryant
Senior Program Officer

Brian Lavoie
Senior Research Scientist

Constance Malpas
Manager, Strategic Programs

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