Category Archives: Related initiatives

Describing and assessing research data management training: DaMSSI-ABC and the RIDLs draft criteria checklist

A key component of DaMSSI-ABC is identifying an appropriate assessment framework for research data management training materials, so that courses can be effectively found and compared. Our first step in this area is to trial the Research Information and Digital Literacies Coalition (RIDLs) draft criteria for good practice in describing, reviewing and assessing practice in information literacy training.

RIDLs was established in 2012 as a follow-on from the Research Information Network’s Working Group on Information Handling, and is a coalition of partners working together to promote the value of information and research data literacy for academic researchers. More information on the coalition can be found at http://www.researchinfonet.org/infolit/ridls/. One of RIDLs’ core activities focuses on testing, refining and disseminating the criteria for good practice in describing, reviewing and assessing training courses and other interventions in the area of information literacy. The criteria relate to all types of interventions aimed at developing researchers’ information-handling knowledge, skills and competencies, whether in the form of face-to-face sessions/courses or digital/online resources. They serve two broad purposes:

(i)     Helping those who design and deliver courses and learning resources to ensure they are developing materials that are fit for purpose as well as a means of describing them. The criteria might provide a means of enabling a structured and recognised way of presenting such interventions through online portals such as Jorum.

(ii)   Providing a simple means of assessing whether a particular course or resource is the right option and the right time. The criteria may enable the value of courses and resources to be better assessed by potential course participants as well as by other training providers who may be seeking to reuse the materials.

DaMSSI-ABC, working alongside RIDLs, have developed the proposed criteria into an easy-to-complete checklist (this can be found at http://www.dcc.ac.uk/training/damssi-abc), and are currently trialling the checklist with the Jisc RDMTrain projects and a number of other curation training providers in order to identify the usefulness of such a framework in a practical data management setting. RIDLs are also testing the criteria in its original format for a number of other information literacy projects and initiatives in over 20 institutions across the UK. Feedback so far has been very positive and the checklist format has ensured using the criteria is a quicker and simpler process.

It is hoped that the end result for the purposes of DaMSSI-ABC will be a set of criteria specifically adapted for the self-assessment, description and evaluation of data management training. We also envisage elements of the criteria being used as part of course description fields in the upcoming Jorum research data management ‘window’, which will be completed later in the year.

Next up, DaMSSI-ABC will be looking into benchmarking training courses and learning resources to help identify possible pathways through the content. This will allow course participants and training providers to better plan for progressive skills development. Watch this space for more updates.

DaMSSI-ABC and DigCurV: connections and correlations

DaMSSI-ABC is concerned with a few different areas of activity around the how digital curation training is developed under the auspices of the Jisc MRD programme and subsequently made available, but also, in a wider frame, identifying and agreeing benchmarks on learning outcomes and means of assessment so that courses from a range of training providers can be effectively compared.  In this way there are some similarities with other current initiatives, including the DigCurV project.  DigCurV – the Digital Curator Vocational Education Europe Project – is currently developing a curriculum framework for digital curation in the cultural heritage sector, and I’m involved in both projects.  So whilst the two initiatives have different aims and audiences, I hope it is of interest to share the DigCurV work here with the DaMSSI-ABC community.

Digital curation in the cultural heritage sector requires a wide and varied range of skills and knowledge.  DigCurV has undertaken research across a number of European countries in order to understand these skills and this knowledge as it is currently constituted.  Findings underpin the content of the DigCurV Curriculum Framework for Digital Curation.  As it is a priority of the project to create something relevant to and based upon the knowledge of the professional community, the Framework has recently (late 2012) been vigorously trialled with a number of groups and individuals from digital curation professional roles across Europe in order to refine its content and structure before the end of the project in summer 2013.

The DigCurV Curriculum Framework is comprised of three views or ‘lenses’, one for each of three different types of audience: ‘practitioner’, ‘manager’ and ‘executive’.  In addition, it is anticipated that there are three main ways that the Framework can be helpful.

Three audience types

The three audience types described in the Framework were initially identified by the Digital Preservation Outreach and Education initiative at the Library of Congress (see http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/education/) as being a useful way to characterise audiences for effective training in digital curation.  When using these terms, DigCurV complies with the definitions offered by DPOE.

  • Practitioners

‘Practitioners’ include front line staff, hands-on staff and other staff responsible for practical implementation of digital curation activity.  Practitioners need to be able to perform a wide variety of technical and people-orientated tasks.  They must also understand many diverse issues relating to both their area of cultural heritage and to digital curation.

  • Managers

‘Managers’, here, indicates project managers, team managers, managers of programmes of work and other middle management.  Individuals in these roles also need an understanding of both cultural heritage and of digital curation to successfully ensure projects and programmes of work are on track and to advise teams.  However, managers will not, in some areas, need as much in-depth practical knowledge of some tasks as required by practitioners.  Managers perform an important role in ensuring that digital curation programmes respond to institutional aims and anticipate upcoming institutional requirements.  Managers also often function as conduit between the staff they manage and institutional senior management and so an ability to effectively translate the meaning of digital curation activity across different types of staff is necessary.

  • Executive

The third of the three audience groups, ‘Executive’, corresponds here to senior management: chief executive officers, chief information officers, senior administrators, directors and other similar roles.  These roles require a strategic view of digital curation to understand the emerging challenges in digital curation for the cultural heritage sector, and to make appropriate funding decisions to meet these challenges.  The executive also has a key role in advocating for the need for digital curation activity within the organisation, based on an understanding of how digital curation underpins the organisation’s strategic objectives and business plan.

In some institutions, particularly smaller ones, it is recognised that individuals may find themselves working across more than one of these staff categories.  In such instances, the lenses can be used to support their respective areas of the role in a complementary way.

Three main uses

Each of the lenses can be used in three main ways.

  • To build or develop training

The framework aims to be useful to those building new training courses.  Depending on the user’s aims, the framework can assist in providing a structure for a generic training programme for the role of digital curator, or it can suggest which subjects should be covered in shorter, more specialised courses addressing one particular area of professional digital curation practice.  The framework may also supply a common language to allow those building and developing  training to meaningfully describe the value of their training offerings.

  • To compare existing courses

The framework provides a benchmark against which to compare existing training and also a way to map various training offerings against each other.  The professional who is considering undertaking training may wish to compare available training programmes to help identify which is most appropriate for their needs.  The framework can also be used by staff training providers to compare existing courses and assess suitability for their own institution’s requirements.

  • To plan professional development

The framework suggests the broad range of skills and knowledge needed by professionals of various levels to successfully deliver digital curation in the cultural heritage sector.  Individuals either intending to enter or already working in digital curation in the cultural heritage sector may find it useful to map their own strengths against the framework as well as to use the framework to identify  and describe areas in which they would find further training useful.

Of course DigCurV is always delighted to hear of additional applications of the framework!  Please visit the website to let the team know your thoughts.

Digital curation as an emerging profession – or set of professions – is diverse and rapidly changing: the Framework should not attempt to set a static definition of the skills and knowledge of the profession either at this time or in the future.  Rather, it is hoped that this Framework is a contribution to a longer conversation and debate about the skills of digital curation now and in the future, and will helpfully function as a checklist, starting point or aide-memoire to assist in the development and delivery of skills for an effective, adaptable digital curation profession.

For more information, visit http://www.digcur-education.org/eng.

To see a similar version of this post in the DigCurV newsletter, visit http://www.digcur-education.org/eng/News/Ahead-of-the-CurV-Newsletter/Feb-2013-Issue-4.

Laura Molloy

e: laura.molloy AT glasgow.ac.uk

Feedback?  Questions? Let us know in the comments!