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 Three: Incentives for Building University RDM Services

In this third report in the series, Incentives for Building University RDM Services, the authors explore the incentives that inspired the acquisition of RDM capacity on the part of the four research universities described in the case studies, and describe both the general patterns and context-dependent circumstances that shaped these incentives.

Based on the case studies, as well as the broader RDM landscape, the authors organized these incentives into four broad categories: compliance, evolving scholarly norms, institutional strategy, and researcher demand.

Key takeaways:

  • University investment in research data management infrastructure, services, or
    personnel is motivated by locally relevant incentives. In other words, the increased
    attention to RDM in research universities operating in different local circumstances
    reflects an alignment of institutional interests and external motivations.
  • Case study partners acted to establish RDM services in anticipation of, rather than in direct response to, researcher demand and explicit policy mandates. Incentives related to institutional strategy and evolving scholarly norms played a larger role in directly catalyzing RDM service development at these institutions.
  • Researcher demand and compliance with policy mandates were important factors in re-shaping and sustaining the RDM service bundle over time, but were not the key drivers for establishing RDM services in our case study institutions.
  • While the constellation of relevant incentives differs from one context to another, the acquisition or development of local RDM capacity is invariably motivated by an interest in protecting or enhancing institutional reputation and success.
  • Consequently, the long-term sustainability of university RDM services is contingent upon alignment with institutional needs, as much as individual researcher needs.

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 Suggested citation:

Bryant, Rebecca, Brian Lavoie, and Constance Malpas. 2018. Incentives for Building University RDM Services. The Realities of Research Data Management, Part 3. Dublin, OH: OCLC Research.


Research Data Management Part Three

Project staff

Rebecca Bryant
Senior Program Officer

Brian Lavoie
Senior Research Scientist

Constance Malpas
Manager, Strategic Programs

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